March 16, 2005

Curious George: Poison Ivy Within the past two days, poison ivy has started to develop on my hands. Gross details inside.

The problem is that for some reason on my hands (which are the only place I have ever been able to get poison ivy) it can spread and grow to the point where my fingers are one mass of flesh and blisters. At that point my hands are essentially lobster claws as I cannot bend my fingers anymore. Doesn't happen every time I get it, but more often than not it does. I googled for information last time I got it, so I figured this time I'd put MoFi to work. What are your remedies for Poison Ivy?

  • Calomine lotion. Antihystemines. I'm looking for, but so far have not been able to find, my bottle of this stuff that supposedly totally wipes out poison ivy (it works on all sorts of surface irritants, though I've never had poison ivy).
  • There is a lotion I've heard good things about, but a quick google search isn't helping, and I'm short on time. Bleach is painful, but it will dry out your skin. Use at your own risk.
  • Hell, if it is as bad as you describe it, I would get myself directly to a dermatologist, or for that matter, even a nurse practitioner. They will give you a shot of cortisone or something like it to nuke your allergic response. If you can't afford going to the doctor, get yourself some vinyl gloves (you might have a reaction to the latex ones) buy yourself some hydrocortisone cream (available over the counter for just this purpose) fill them with a couple of tablespoons of the goo and tape them off at your wrist with surgical tape. Sleep overnight in them. Repeat if necessary.
  • And antihystimines. Pseudophedrine should do.
  • Unfortunately, bleach, calamine, cortisone (shots and goo), and antihystimines have failed me in the past. The glove thing, however, does make your skin baby soft. I just tried an allergy pill with pseudophedrine a few minutes ago (for my normal allergies) so hopefully that will work. First time trying it. Thank you all for the suggestions, I very much appreciate it. I'll update as soon as I can determine whether the pseudophedrine helped, in the meantime keep the suggestions coming!
  • The trick with poison ivy and other allergic reactions that are big and nasty are LOTS of antihistamines, and LOTS of corticosteroids. If you can get prescriptions, clarinex, allegra, zyrtec etc. I am not a pharmacist, but when I had an allergic reaction, my doctor said I could take clarinex AND zyrtec 12 hours apart. Apparently, they function slightly differently. And not just cortizone, but other steroids like prednisone (which is a pill, and quite strong; I've only taken it for about 5 days and boy did it screw with my sleep patterns, but boy did it clear up the hives and the swelling in my face and hands). Get ye to a doctor, really. And stay away from the poison ivy!
  • My father kept a jug of hydrochloric acid in the garage for when we yonkers got poison ivy. It basically removed the first couple of layers of skin from the affected area, carrying off the offending urushiol oil. He would pour it onto a rag and then dap it onto whoever's hand, leg, etc. needed doctoring. The burning was unspeakable, something akin to the lye scene in "Fight Club." We learned to suffer poison ivy in silence after a few doses. Better the disease than the cure.
  • Yeah, another vote for going to the doc. I get really bad allergic reactions to poison ivy. One summer a small scratch on my leg exploded into massive, painful hives and a pepper rash, EVERYWHERE. The only thing that got rid of it was a few weeks on lots of prednisone. I don't go camping much anymore.
  • It can spread to different parts of your body. Avoid porn sites at all costs.
  • I second going to the doc, if you can afford it. If not, think about soaking your hands in a couple of different solutions: 1) baking soda: stops a lot of allergic/irritant reactions (remember bathing in this when you got chicken pox?) 2) collodial oatmeal: Aveeno sells lots of stuff with this (including a Hydrocortizone that has it) This also dries out and soothes skin irritations. Follow up with LOTS of ointment. Rather than wearing rubber gloves, which don't let the skin breathe, I'd wear cotton ones (dime stores have them, if only for the kids in marching band. So do the beauty depts of some stores) The cotton gloves will let your skin breathe. The rash needs to dry out to heal. Good luck -- I'm in the midst of an allergic reaction to some shampoo, so I itch everywhere the shampoo went. I feel your pain. (or itch)
  • I meant to say, The cotton gloves will let your skin breathe while keeping the ointment on your hands (and off of everything else).
  • I've had poison ivy and poison oak many times and Ivy-Dry does wonders. Most pharmacies carry it and quite a few pharmacists recommend it. However, if it's really a bad case (which it sounds like), definitely see a doctor.
  • This thread is interesting... I was doing some outdoor construction this weekend in a piny wood area (with camping to boot) and have gotten some persistent itches here and there. I haven't quite figured out what it is... I thought it might be chiggers but I think it's too early in the season and not enough grasses in the area. Now I'm wondering if it might indeed be poison oak/poison ivy.
  • use bleach,It reallys works fast, growing up I had it from head to toe,One time me and my girlfriend got it bad from making out in apatch of it,She got it internally,That took a doctor.
  • I didn't realize it was an acid, though it makes sense. If so, a heavy dose of a base might help too. Start with baking soda before you work up to lye.
  • How on earth do you come into contact with poison ivy in the middle of March? I suggest asking Lux Interior for his recommendations on dealing with this problem.
  • Thanks for all the tips, everyone. Luckily it is not to the point it has been in the past, so I can still use my hands (Yay!) I'm just trying to keep it from getting bad. Haven't tried the Baking Soda thing, so I will pick up a box, and some Ivy-Dry, tonight. I have a doctors appointment tomorrow for my "normal" allergies, so I'll ask about other options there. As for where I got it. I blame my fiance. She was down in Florida recently and I believe the oil s from Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac can last up to a year.
  • Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant. that's for stuffy noses. what you need is an antihistamine, two common forms are Chlorpheniramine and Brompheniramine. look for those at the drug store, they should help. you can buy them over the counter. but decongestant won't do much, IMHO.
  • Zanfel is expensive, but it has worked for me in the past, although it's best at the very first stage, which it sounds like you're past. The other prevention thing is a poison ivy soap - I can't remember the name of it - but using it as soon as you think you might have been exposed. I get it every spring, summer and fall - I've had it systemically a few times now so it has an evil habit of just popping up on random places on my body when I'm exposed. Zanfel helps a LOT, but sometimes steroids are the only way to go. I also started taking homeopathic poison ivy pills from the health food store, and although I don't really believe in them, I have noticed that my poison ivy episodes have been fewer and shorter and less harrowing - YMMV.
  • The poision ivy soap I've used (and that has worked) is Tecnu Poison Oak and Ivy cleaner. You use it if you know you have been exposed, and it doesn't help once you've started reacting. The first rule of poison ivy reactions is (and this may be obvious) *Don't Touch It!*. Your skin I mean. If it is on your hands, this is going to be hard, but every time you touch it, itch it or pick at it, that just means more time you are going to have to deal with it. Calamine lotion is milky pink bullshit. In my experience it doens't stop the itching or help things clear up more quickly. Hydrocortisone (at least the kind you can get in the drugstore) feels great and stops the itching... for about a minute. The only topical thing that has helped me much is Benedryl spray. It is sticky nasty stuff, but it stops the itching and coats the mess in a pleasing way. I have not tried Ivy-Dry, and hopefully I won't have to. The other thing that I do that helps is hot showers. Really, really painfully hot. When you are done, and the pain ends, you itchy area will feel cool and wonderful. But most of all, learn to spot it. Everyone knows what it looks like, but you have to be proactive. Learn the places that it usually grows. Never go tramping through underbrush without looking around for it. Develop a sixth sense for it.
  • It is update time! My regimine at the moment includes one Alavert-D every 12 hours (Contains an antihistimine and psuedophedrine, I have normal allergies I am combatting on top of the poison ivy) and washing my hands with Ivy-Dry scrub. It is similar in ingrediants to Zanfel, but cheaper. Besides that, I have been washing my hands religiously to make sure none of the oil remains. Itching has never really been a problem with poison ivy, for me at least, so nothing to reduce that is needed. The rashes have stopped spreading and growing and are holding at their current state. I have a doctor appointment tomorrow so I'll see what he/she thinks about the rash. Argh: I really -can't- get it anywhere but my hands, luckily. I've had the stuff sprayed out of a lawnmower on me and managed to only have the rash appear on my hands. Pants: I don't normally get Poison Ivy myself, but from touching something that has come in contact with it like a pair of shoes or an animal. I can't thank you all enough for your help, I think I've beaten it this time around.
  • Im telling you bleach is the best,clorox works best dab it right on your hands,even pour some in a bath,Just dont drink it!All that creme lotion stuff is crap,it just prolongs the agony.