Sunday, May 21, 2006

Poison Ivy

Back in 2004 I wrote about my experience with poison ivy. I have it, or poison sumac, again. I know what poison ivy looks like so that's why I'm wondering if it's oak or sumac. It's been about a week and as before, I'm not sure where I picked it up. This time I've tried a couple of different things to alleviate the itching:

  • Hot showers on the afflicted parts; this time it's my arms. Heat apparently stimulates the release of the itch-causing histamines in your skin. If you can stand under hot water for five minutes you can get your skin to release its store of histamines. It then takes several hours for the skin to replenish them. So, plain old hot water can give you relief for a few hours.
  • Today I went out and bought a tube of Zanfel Poison Ivy Wash. This stuff is expensive as hell ($38 for an ounce) but seems to be working. After following the instructions on the tube, I scrubbed the hell out of the areas on my hands and arms where I have the rashes, and they seem to be subsiding. I'll render a final opinion tomorrow but it seems to be worth it.
Since I'm not certain where I'm being exposed to poison ivy/sumac/whatever, I'm going to start wearing a long sleeve shirt while I'm doing yard work, then changing out of it as soon as I'm done and going straight into the shower. The urushiol oil that causes the rash is fucking nasty shit, but it can be removed with soap and water if you can get to it before it binds to your skin. Dawn dishwashing detergent is supposed to be very effective for this.

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