We often think of poison ivy as something children unknowingly find themselves in. I should know. When I was seven years old, I spent a week in bed with poison oak. My poor mom was hospitalized with her diabetes, so my dad had to take time off from work to tend to me. It is a fond memory of my father’s Italian-style TLC, but I vowed never to get myself in that kind of situation again!
Fast-forward to last summer...
My overzealous gardener-wife attacked what she thought was an extension of the ivy on our fence. An ambitious vine was choking her beloved and blooming Mountain Laurel bush, so she just started in on it—with a vengeance!
When a couple little isolated bumps started to appear on her forearm and hand, she blamed insects for biting her. By the time she recognized the telltale rash and knew it was poison ivy, she’d already passed it along to me.
Naturally, I resisted doing anything chemical to treat my skin. For a week, the poison ivy just spread. It oozed, and I got more and more miserable, as did my wife Jan. Reaching the end of her rope, Jan got a prescription for a steroid cream and the Calamine lotion I’d refused to buy. Instead, I used homeopathic remedy for poison ivy, called Rhus Tox, and took comforting oatmeal baths to relieve the itching.
I tell you this story because, despite my insistence that my own body would handle the situation and beat the poison ivy wrap, I was wrong. I also share this with you because most folks were surprised to learn that poison ivy can spread from person to person.
I finally succumbed to steroid creams and a couple of low-dose steroid pills to get relief from the itching, and resolve the progression of skin lesions. And now, I am on the poison ivy campaign trail:
Here are some poison ivy pointers:
1. Be on the lookout for poison ivy whenever you walk in areas of lush greenery—including in your own yard.
2. Know what poison ivy and poison oak look like. The telltale shiny leaves at the end of the vine may not always appear.
3. Cover your arms and wear glasses when you garden in thick greenery.
4. When you come inside, thoroughly wash up with soap and water.
5. Don’t be in skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a rash.
6. If you’re exposed to poison ivy, try the homeopathic remedy Rhus Tox, which is most effective before you break out.
7. Oatmeal baths can help to sooth the rash, and if need be you may need to try conventional treatments like Medrol or Prednisone.
8. Wash clothing, sheets, and towels after each use to avoid spreading any possible discharge.
Now it’s your turn: Do you have any natural poison ivy prevention and treatment tips to share?
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