Poison Ivy? Do this.

behaviorkelton(7-ish)May 20, 2008

It is poison ivy season, so I thought I'd share my discovery on a way to beat the itch.

Actually, it isn't *my* discovery... I found it through perusing the 'net.

I've tried every darn thing, and none of them helped with the itch at all as far as I could tell. If they did, it was subtle.


Hot tap water.

Let the water get as hot as you can take it (don't hurt yourself), and let it run directly on your poison ivy rash spots.

If you hit the rash dead on, it actually feels fantastic... like the feeling you get from scratching the actual itch.

Let it flow over each rashy spot for 30 seconds to a minute, and enjoy at least a couple hours of full relief.

The relief is total... it isn't a subtle thing... the itch is totally gone. Finally, you can actually lay down and fall asleep with that terrifically nasty itch keeping you awake.

If you remember to do this right when you notice the "itch", you will heal up much quicker because you won't scratch at it.

I have been hit with ivy at least once every few months since moving into my house a couple years ago. I'm doing a lot of brush clearing and "stuff" in my wooded areas and can't seem to avoid it. This latest rash... the one that is on my arm as I type this... was treated fully with the "hot water "system" and the results are fantastic.

In the past, I tried the prepackaged systems, the pink stuff, banana peels, alcohol, ammonia, etc. etc. intermixed with the occasional hot water treatment.

Granted, when the itch is at it's peak worst, you may have to wake up in the middle of the night and make your way into the bathroom for a re-application of the water, but it is a thing of beauty to lay back down with nary a hint of itch!

OK, there you go.


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Ok. I'm gonna try it your way. I've tried stuff for years. Different soaps, scrubs, herbal stuff. My only relief has ever been to wash in COLD water, and lay down in front of the fan. As you can imagine, in the fall when I do this, I become an ice cube shivering on the bed with my fan blowing directly on me. But hey, I don't itch for a while.

I guess you'll think I'm a complete moron for not trying hot water, but I'm EATEN UP with poison ivy right at this moment, and willing to give it a go. I'll let you know if I get some relief.

Oh, and most of the time, it's on the front side, so you can see it and get to it easier. This time, it is on the back of my upper legs, on up. So yes, if you can imagine, it's even MORE irritating then usual. I'll let you know. Thanks!!!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 2:15PM
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For a more pharmacological solution, try this...

200mg ibuprofen + 25mg diphenhydramine every 4-6 hours during the worst period of the itch. Correctly and judiciously administered and there will be little discomfort or itch. Probably only need this for a day or two after the rash peaks, somewhere around 48 hours after contact.

Ibuprofen (motrin by brand name) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) and when combined with an anti-histamine like diphenhydramine (benadryl by brand name) it helps "disconnect" your body's alarm system that is trying to tell you to remove whatever the irritant is.

Found all of this out after a killer bout of sun poisoning earlier this year. I'll never complain about poison ivy/oak again - although I just got over a bout of *THAT* a week ago, lol.


And for the truly cruel and twisted, if you ever want to make someone's pain worse after being exposed to poison ivy or sun poisoning, convince them to take a couple B6 (niacin) vitamins...as they cause "flushing" which is a quick release of histamine throughout your whole body. Found out *THAT* when I took my multivitamin during my sun poisoning as well... ;-p

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 2:42PM
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Grandmother always just told me to wear jeans, a long sleeve shirt and a pair of gloves. It works for me. :-)

Now when I didnÂt listen to her she made me take a bath with a box of Arm & Hammer thrown in. That worked too.

If your dogs are out there helping you they will get the resin oil on them too so as soon as you pet them guess what?

Soap & water within 30 minutes of contact helps a lot, after 30 minutes  not so much.

IÂve also heard of folks using bleach. IÂd almost rather have the itch than the smell.

Wash your clothes immediately after working in the stuff because they have it on them too.

DonÂt ever burn it!!!

"Leaves of three, let it be. Leaves of five, let it thrive."
"Berries white, danger in sight."
"Hairy vine, no friend of mine."
"Only dopes play with hairy ropes."
"Leaflets three, quickly flee!"

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 12:50AM
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I guess I'm over my ivy itch for this bout...using only hot water along the way.

During the most intense itch...(and I was about to go out of my mind before starting with the hot water) I probably ran the hot water for less than 30 seconds over each area.

I can't imagine that any topical treatment would truly make the itch vanish... the itchiness is just sooo intense.

For a period of time after the hot water, I'm saying that the itch is utterly gone.

Please tell me how it works for you folks as you try it.

I really love the idea of fixing a problem in the simplest way possible... no potions, chemicals, or complexities....*if* the simple solution actually works.

I will surely get "in" to poison ivy again and again ... averaging once every two or three months since moving to Tennessee, so I will be able to re-run the only-hot-water solution numerous times in the future.

There is no way I am going to wear jeans or other heavy body cover while gardening. I work like a mad-man in the garden...quick... with lots of thrashing about. In the heat, I'm wearing shorts and t-shirt and gloves.

My gloves have also given me recurring bouts of ivy rash ... so I guess I need to find an effective way of washing them.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 9:05AM
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After years of frustration with poison ivy vines cropping up everywhere in my gardens, I discovered the "mother plant", and its a monster! I've included a few photos.

[WARNING!!] Severely allergic people may break out in a rash just at the sight of this thing! Monster Poison Ivy

I also read an article recently on PI that was very helpful. Points made were:

1.) The toxic oil (urushiol) persists in clothing, garden gloves or other absorbtive materials even after being washed in detergtent and scalding hot water. Best to use rubber gloves.

2.) Rubbing alcohol removes the oil best from garden implements or rubber gloves.

3.) The best way to remove it from your skin is to wash with brown laundry soap and COLD water. Cold water closes pores and keeps the oil from penetrating. Washing with hot water opens pores and forces the oil into the skin. A commercial poison ivy and oak cleanser called Tecnu is said to be effective in removing the toxin. It's an over-the-counter lotion. You just apply the lotion to the affected areas and then wash it off.

4.) Each exposure to PI increases the severity of the reaction the next time. Best advice - avoid exposure! Wear gloves, long sleeves and jeans! Put clothes thru at least 2 washings before wearing again. Clean garden tools after use.

5.) Japanese Beetles love to eat poison ivy! Its the only positive thing about them!!!



    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 9:59PM
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the hot water forces your body to use up histamine which is what makes you itch, your body can only make so much so fast so relief for a while. wash it off if you even suspect you may have been exposed, several showers will keep it to a minimum

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 11:55PM
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intimidator_3(7a TN)

I know no one will believe me when I say this, but I have never been allergic to Ivy. My wife and son arent either. I guess were kind of an anomoly. Not sure about Maleah yet though. Hopefully Bec and I have passed the Ivy resistant gene on to her as well.

Ive been known to make people swallow their tongues when I bend down and pull it bare handed. Ive even walked through it in sandals many times. Never got anything more than a small bubble between my fingers after pulling it for a while.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 6:00PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)


That's not that unusual at all. I've met lots of people that aren't allergic to PI.

BUT!!!!! Don't assume that you will never be allergic. When we grew up, my brother could roll in PI and never get a single bump. I could hear about some PI in the next county over and break out. About a year ago, my brother came over with his huge chainsaw to cut a really large stump at ground level for me. After he was through, I told him he should wash off before going to work. He said there was no need and that he didn't have time. I tried to talk him into it, but he wouldn't listen. Then about three days later, I heard from my parents that he had to go to the hospital because he had PI so bad. He went from being about to play in the stuff with no reaction to having to go to the emergency room for a severe reaction. It's always best to avoid this stuff when possible.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 9:30PM
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cannahavana(z7a Knoxville)

Ok, Doug lied...unintentionally!

I have a severe reaction to pulling poison ivy out of the gardens the past couple of weekends! I developed Black Spot poison ivy. It looks like tar on the skin and it burrows into the skin and makes these huge itchy welts around it and is swollen. Some of the black spots will not come off! I am about to scratch my skin off. From what I have read on the internet, it is a rare reaction from the actual sap from the stems, not the leaves. Anyone seen this before? I haven't been to the doc...yet.


    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 3:17PM
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search out these products:

Put Ivy Block on before venturing near the plants.

Wash body and clothing with TECNU® Poison Oak-N-Ivy Cleanser or for really bad cases TECNU® Extreme Medicated Poison Ivy Scrub.

this stuff actually breaks down and removes the toxic substance urushiol ( the oils )

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 7:57PM
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cannahavana(z7a Knoxville)

Thanks sandsquid!

I am not venturing into the poison ivy again any time soon...say in the next 20 years... I still have spots popping up.

Amazing but true, the hot tap water is wonderful! It actually works.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 3:15PM
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Just be aware that the hot water is only palative, and temporary, and this water is simply spreading the oil around from a more concentrated area to a larger, but less concentrated. So you could be in fact prolonging the process if all you do is hot water, you NEED to remove the oils.

I'm kinda a super geek and did a bunch of ersearch on this and I have found that what is REALLY happening is this...

Heat releases histamine, the substance in the cells of the skin which causes the intense itching. A hot shower or bath will cause intense itching as the histamine is released.

Increasing the heat to the maximum tolerable and continued until the itching has subsided (usually while screaming and writhing in pain form the heat)

This process will deplete the cells of histamine and you can obtain (up to) eight hours of relief from the itching, until the histamine is re-generated by your body.

But again, if you can't break down or remove the oils themselves you are only prolonging the pain/itching.

BTW, a histamine blocker such as Benadryl works too and is not as dangerous ;-)

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 4:17PM
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I'm always on the lookout for it but if I do get in some I try to get in the shower asap with soap and a washcloth and do some serious scrubing. I had a serious case when I was 7 or 8 and my parents were going to cancel our vacation to Panama City Fl. but the doctor said the salt water would be the best thing for it. Instant itch relief and it cleared up quickly. The last time I had a bad case of it I did the hot water thing but I included a salt shaker.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 8:09AM
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cannahavana(z7a Knoxville)

I went to the doc yesterday and have been on the steroid pack for a day and a half and already look/feel better! He told me also to stay away from the hot water, but that was the ONLY relief I got.

Jim, I like your prescription the most...go to the beach! I'll have to remember that next time :).


    Bookmark   August 8, 2008 at 3:17PM
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myrtleoak(z7 TN)

Ok this may freak some people out, but this is what I do. Once the poison has come to the surface in small clear bubbles, sterilize a razor blade and cut open each bubble so that the clear liquid is released. Wash extensively with soap and cold water to remove the poison. Apply rubbing alcohol and allow to dry. Seal with benadryl spray. Scabs should form the following day.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 1:14AM
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