How to Stop Poison Ivy & Poison Oak

How to Stop Poison Ivy & Poison Oak featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Gabrielle of Design Mom

The (FREE) trick to stopping poison oak and poison ivy rash before it starts! | How to Stop Poison Ivy & Poison Oak featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Gabrielle of Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Poison Ivy botanical print found here.

Oh my goodness. At the moment, there is a major portion of my brain fixated on poison oak and poison ivy. Turns out I’m highly allergic! And I’ve been battling some intense poison oak rashes for months. I’ve had shots, used up dozens of tubes of prescription cream, and taken one million showers to ease the itch. (Oh the drama! Hah!) Remember the red dress I wore to the Iris Awards? It was chosen because it covered my poison oak rash all over my arms and legs.

Happily I think I’ve finally got it under control. So three cheers for that! But while it’s still on my mind, I thought I’d jot down the most helpful things I’ve learned about it in case anyone else out there is dealing with it too. Here are 10 things I’ve learned about poison oak and poison ivy since we moved to California:

1) Poison Ivy is found in the East. Poison Oak is found in the West. There’s Poison Sumac too, but I don’t know where it’s found.

2) Not everyone is allergic to these plants, but most people are — 85% of people have some sort of reaction. I seem to be on the highly allergic end. I swear, even if I don’t touch any plants at all, if it’s nearby I seem to break out in a poison oak rash. Luckily, no one else in the family (Ben Blair or the kids) seems to be quite as affected as I am.

3) The rash is intense. It goes deep and gets these nasty weeping blisters. So gross! For me, it doesn’t seem to improve at all on it’s own. I have to get medical help before I see improvement.

4) To ease the pain, someone recommended taking a super hot shower and putting the rash under the shower stream. She said to hold it there until it’s like a “good” pain. I followed the advice and found it totally works for me. Doing this can relieve my pain and itching for up to an hour. Though I should also note, no doctor has ever mentioned this to me, so I don’t claim it’s an official treatment. : )

5) Once it clears, you can see the scars of the rash for months and months — I had some on my leg that lasted a full year.

6) The thing that causes the rash (and that both poison oak and poison ivy have in common) is urushiol oil. It’s invisible, but it can rub off from the plant onto clothes or shoes or skin, or onto gardening tools or pretty much any surface.

7) Apparently, the urushiol oil stays toxic indefinitely. So if your garden rake comes in contact with poison oak, and then you put the rake away for the winter and don’t touch it again for 6 months, the oil would still give you a rash when you pick up the rake again.

8) Washing with soap and water doesn’t necessarily remove the oil. It’s intense stuff!

9) The rash doesn’t show up instantly. It can take 8 hours or more. So again, you may not even know you’ve come into contact with any of the plants or oil until the next day — at which point it’s too late to wash the oil off before it does damage.

10) Because you can’t see the oil, it can come into your life without you knowing it. Perhaps on your kids’ shoes, or on something like bike tires. Which means, it’s possible to get the rash even if you haven’t left the house!

Turns out number 10 is real the nightmare part for me. Our yard is like a bit of forest, and in the wild parts, poison oak thrives. We’ve removed as much of it as we can — and hired professionals to help too — but sometimes it grows back faster then we can keep up with it. So when the kids go exploring (which we want to encourage), they might run into some by accident, and then bring it home on their clothes or shoes. Or maybe the soccer ball gets kicked through a patch, and then picked up so the oil transfers to hands, and then the hands pick up the mail as they come inside, and then I open the mail, and then I end up covered in a rash.

But yesterday, I feel like I had a breakthrough in my poison oak battle. My friend Laurie shared this video on Facebook and I found it so helpful! Apparently the trick to getting the oil off is using a washcloth instead of plain soap and water. Take a peek:

Pretty awesome, right? I feel so much more confident about keeping the rash at bay now. Hopefully, some of you find it helpful too!

Tell me, friends: Have you ever had a poison ivy/oak rash? How about your kids? Do you have any tips that worked for you? Or any other pieces of info you’d add to my list? I’d love to hear.

P.S. — I hear there is a scientist working on a specific light bulb that will make urushiol oil visible. That would be amazing!

80 thoughts on “How to Stop Poison Ivy & Poison Oak”

  1. Yikes!! I can sympathize! I was helping an older couple clean up their yard once and pulled down a vine from their barn. Turns out, it was poison oak or sumac. The pollen rained down on me. I had it all over! Down my shirt, next to my eyes. Thankfully, some steroids and cream helped me. But I fear I am a highly allergic type too.

  2. I spent my childhood bi coastal. I am HIGHLY allergic to poison ivy (like in the hospital) but have never gotten poison oak despite being outdoors where it lives. I have always heard you are allergic to one but not the other. Sounds like that’s not true.

    1. I feel like there are all sorts of rumors about poison oak and poison ivy. I heard that once you’ve had a bad rash, the next one won’t be as bad — but that has definitely not been true for me.

      1. You’re right: that one’s definitely a myth. In fact, as with any allergy, it can work the other way – exposure can increase sensitization.

      2. Strangely, that one was true for me. As I child, I got a terrible poison ivy rash after a woods walk during summer camp. it must have gotten on my shirt and shorts, because the worst of the rash was on my belly and thighs. I had to get cortisone shots from the pediatrician. But I’ve never gotten a reaction since–despite coming into contact with it, even deliberately, as an older child. I was the one sent into the underbrush to retrieve a ball because I would have no reaction.

        I haven’t tried deliberately exposing myself since I was a teen, and I do avoid it and have taught my daughter what to look for as well (it’s common in our area). But I have never gotten another rash. I count myself extremely lucky.

    2. Absolutely not! From a botanical point of view, they’re very closely related species – almost like subspecies of the same thing. The differences are fairly superficial.

  3. I don’t think we have poisoned oak/ivy/sumac in Australia (we have lots of other deadly things though to make up for it). I wonder if a microfibre type wash cloths would be a good option? They are really effective, I use a microfibre face washer instead of a regular towelling face washer to remove my make up and the difference is really noticeable.

  4. I’m terrified of the stuff. This was a great video.

    I learned a couple interesting things about poison ivy (not sure about oak). It grows in part shade/sun which is why you see it on the side of the road so much. Good to know where to watch. It’s related to the mango plant.

    Thanks for sharing and I hope yours is better soon.

  5. Oh yes, poison ivy was a feature of my childhood. And let me add that burning the plants to get rid of them is the worst possible. The oil is carried in the smoke–imagine blisters in your nose and throat. I wasn’t sure my mom would ever forgive my dad’s ill-fated DIY effort. I think your only real solution is to make sure no one in the family touches it–so steadfast professional eradication is probably the answer. Truly horrible to have those blisters–I know!!

  6. I’m like you-if I get into Poison Ivy I have to take Prednisone. Same with my oldest who has even had poison ivy during a snowy winter.

    You can also get the rash from unripe mango skins if you don’t completely peel the fruit. It happened to my oldest and it looked like he had the most epic case of cold sores ever.

    1. I am allergic to mango skins! I had no idea it was related to poison oak/ivy. I break out into a rash on my lips if I eat mango right out of the skin (prescription steroid creme required) but am ok if it has been carefully cut away from the skin.

  7. Poison Ivy/Oak is no fun. I had it last year and it took a little while to get it turned around. A doctor friend told me to try the mean green power hand scrubber wash and it was great. I scrubbed it until it was a “good” hurt, like you did with the water, every few hours and each day it got much better. It is a soap for industrial oil with micro scrubbers built in, so I think it worked like the video said with soap and friction to get rid of the oil. Now I keep a little tub of it on hand!

  8. My husband is severely allergic to poison ivy, which we discovered after moving to our own bit of forest. We’ve found that washing with Tecnu and changing our clothes after any gardening or exploring has made a big difference. We’ve also abandoned a few balls in the woods – they’re just not worth the itch!

  9. If you buy a load of firewood and see a log with a vine attached, it’s likely poison ivy. Don’t touch it or burn it for the reasons revealed in your other messages. My guilty pleasure is buying inexpensive garden gloves by the dozen and disgarding them if I’ve even had an inkling that I’ve been exposed. That may sound fool-hardy and wasteful, but it’s certainly less expensive than medical treatments and minus all the misery.

  10. Oh I can totally relate!!!! Each summer we would spend weeks at my parents in Washington and it was a nightmare for my boys. We would travel home overseas on long flights with terrible itching. One of my boys has very sensitive skin and eczema and got cellulitis from the itching. Finally after many summers of poison oak we learned how to keep it at bay. It is so hard though for all the reasons you mentioned in your post. My parents have neighbors who had their front yard cleared from any foliage because they could not keep it under control. I hope you are able to finally be rid of it!!!

  11. Um, I went back and forth about commenting because this is going to sound really hokey and far-fetched but…my dad visited us in Colorado and woke up with his shins covered in big red itchy blotches. I’d heard a rumor from my husband’s family about peeing on poison ivy/oak rash, so I told my dad to try it. He said it worked way better than the steroid cream he’d applied earlier in the day! Maybe it’s a total old wives’ tale but it seemed to work for him!

  12. Now I’m worried. I’m supposed to go on a hike this summer in Acadia Nal park Maine, so I wonder what I should do. Should I only wear long sleeves and pants? And clean our shoes after we get home? I’ve never been in contact with poison ivy, as I’m European, but I don’t want it to ruin my holiday. My husband already has a terrible skin condition known as psoriasis.
    My son has a lot of allergies and he’ll be at camp on his own. Ok,now I’m more than worried!

    1. It might be similar to nettles that are common in Europe? I remember getting terrible rashes from brushing by nettles as a kid.
      If there is poison ivy where your trail is, there usually are warning signs put up. Make sure you know how they look like so you can keep away.

    2. National Parks, especially Acadia, keep the poison ivy under control along the trails. They have a website on what to look for.

      Ticks are much more of a problem. Long sleeves and pants are a good idea!

    3. I’m so sorry to worry you! If it makes you feel any better, I practically grew up in the National Parks and I never had contact with poison oak or poison ivy till I was an adult — and that has always been at private residences.

      The National Parks do a really good job of either clearing it out or pointing it out so that you can stay clear.

    4. Poison ivy is actually very easy to spot. Once you see the photos of the very shiny/oily three-leaved plant, you will not forget it. And children are even better at spotting it! Parks and camps are usually no problem at all.

      1. Thanks guys, I feel better! and thanks for that website, I’ll have a look at it later today, it’s good to be informed! Have a nice day all of you.

  13. I just wanted to add one more plant to the conversation: poison parsnip. It causes a rash because of a different chemical ( same family as giant hogweed), but here in the East it is pervasive in the roadside ditches in the month of July. I’m a science teacher, so I often mention it to my kids in the spring and a lot of them don’t know (thus, I assume their parents don’t know). Here’s a link, so you can see a picture of it.

  14. It sounds just awful. As an Australian it’s really only something I have read about in Trixie Belden books a very long time ago!

  15. I’m insanely allergic to poisin ivy. My sensitization went through through the roof after somebody burned it at a bonfire when I was in jr. high ~ I ended up in the hospital looking like an alien for a week! Fast forward a bunch of years to when hubby and I moved to West Africa. I was so glad that I wouldn’t have to deal poison ivy every year. Then guess what I found out the hard way? Mango skins carry urushiol oil! I was eating a fresh mango straight from the tree, just sliced off the top and was slurping it out, and the next day I woke up with balloon face! I started doing some research, and sure enough poison ivy and mango are somehow related. Many people with severe poison ivy allergies will react to mangoes!

  16. Burts Bee’s makes a poison ivy bar that is the best!! If I remember correctly, it has juniper berries which grow next to the poison ivy. I had a terrible rash from that awful plant and was sent home with steroid cream from the dermatologist. I remembered I had this bar of soap with an outdoor kit and tried it. It cleared up the rash so much quicker than the cream. I lathered it on the rash and left it there to dry. It helped the itch and cleared up the rash. Plus, it is all natural!

    1. Good to know. I’ve been curious about more natural options, but the info online is all over the place — it’s hard to tell the old wives tales from the stuff that has really worked.

      1. The natural remedy that I had great success with was vinegar! I knew I had gotten some poison ivy on me. So I came in and first thing poured vinegar right out of the bottle onto my arm. The vinegar caused the urishiol to turn black. I missed a spot on my leg, which went on to itch me horribly for three days or more. The spot on my arm stayed black for like two weeks, then itched me just like the untreated spot, but only for one day! Also, I removed some poison ivy while wearing leather gloves and latex gloves and both showed black spots after i doused them in vinegar.

  17. When I was in high school my best friend got the worst case of poison oak I’ve ever seen. Like other commenters have mentioned, she got it through the smoke at a huge bonfire while camping – it was all over her arms and legs, on her face, and inside her throat! No matter what she did – hot showers twice a day, scrubbing, changing the sheets on her bed every day, etc – it just got worse and worse.

    She eventually had to go to urgent care to get steroids, and the doctor there told her and her mom that the absolute worst thing you can do is take a hot shower because it spreads the rash down your body. She took cold showers every day for over a month until it was gone.

    This was 10 years ago, so it’s totally possible that has been debunked – especially since it sounds like you’ve been working so closely with doctors on this so I assume they would have mentioned it, but it might be worth asking your doctor about to make sure your hot showers aren’t making it worse if you haven’t already.

  18. Keep Tecnu on hand and wash with it if you even suspect exposure to poison oak or ivy.
    I found out the hard way that I’m very sensitive to it and that its in my back yard, now I give myself a good rundown with Tecnu after any yard work, and so far no more reactions.

  19. So sorry! My son is highly allergic too. He got it while we were camping. His eye was swollen shut. It stayed in his system for months. I recommend oatmeal (not instant- use organic steel cut oats) baths. You take about two cups and put it in a nylon stocking. It makes the water very cloudy but it is very soothing to the skin. We did that a lot the first few days.

  20. Poison ivy/oak is the worst! One Earth-friendly treatment of the source is goats. They eat many weeds, including poison ivy/oak, and there are places that rent them as a method of weed control (this is the 1st place that popped up on Google in CA, but there are many). Might be something to consider for your wooded area if that is the main source if exposure. Feel better!

      1. Another thing about goats is drinking their milk after they’ve eaten poison ivy (don’t know if this would work for poison oak or not). We had goats growing up and I am the type of person so allergic to poison ivy that I would get it just by walking by a poison ivy plant on a windy day, so my mom would make me drink the goats milk during the summer months and my reactions were much much less than the total body reactions I would get as a kid. One thing to figure out is whether or not you get a systemic reaction. My body kicks into overdrive if I’ve been exposed, so I get a rash pretty much all over my body, not just the parts that were exposed to the oil (that’s where I get the weepy blisters though). Anyway, if you get goats, you should try drinking the milk after they’ve had their fill…it might work for you too.
        And further down you had a comment about the pool…the chlorine in the pool really does help dry out the poison ivy for me. In fact there have been times that I’ve been so desperate that I’ve taken a hot shower which usually makes the blisters pop and then put a soaked rag with bleach on the open blisters…not medically recommended I’m sure, but it dries it up in a couple of days instead of the weeks it normally takes for me. I’ve only ever done this when it’s been on my arms though and only when I’ve had it and can’t seem to get rid of it.

  21. Oh my, I’ve had poison ivy more time than I’d like to count. I grew up on a farm, and we baled a lot of hay, which sometimes had poison ivy in it. I do remember one time, getting poison ivy in the fall from the vine. (I didn’t see the leaves, and must have touched my face before getting washed up. My entire face swelled up so much that I couldn’t see over my cheeks. I had to take oral steroids and use cream. Even so, when I went back to school a few days later, my friends almost didn’t recognize me for the swelling. On the east coast, we have jewel weed. If you smash up the leaves and rub it on the area, the itching goes away for hours and it heals faster.

  22. oh man.. yes! I live in Missouri where we have poison ivy, oak, and sumac! I just wanted to add that your sensitivity to it can change over time (and I also I think you just get better at avoiding it.) In my 20’s I was highly allergic and I had a bad case just like you described. I didn’t have any bad cases in my 30’s and I know I was around it many times. The only thing that helped me was Zanfel which is a scrub. I don’t always use Zanfel anymore but if I know I’ve been near it, I’ll use a body scrub to get all the oil off. I imagine it works similar to your tip to use a washcloth. So many misconceptions about poison ivy!

  23. The worst. My brother and I are both really sensitive to poison ivy, mango skins, and somehow cashews, too (whatever is in the shell is related to poison ivy and mango skins, so if you get the wrong batch of cashews, watch out!). Drives me crazy (because I love mangoes and cashews!).

  24. julia g blair

    My husband was born and raised in Santa Barbara,CA. and claims that he is not allergic to Poison oak , which is abundant near his childhood home, because his family drank goat’s milk!
    Thanks for sharing this very interesting topic, though it does make me itch!

    1. I remember hearing that — that goats can eat poison oak without a reaction. I wouldn’t be surprised if drinking the goats’ milk inoculated him. I’ve heard something similar about eating local honey — that it can help people become more resistant to seasonal allergies.

  25. patty blaettler

    Once I had it spread to the underside of my breasts cuz I was nursing. I had to wean the baby immediately. Not fun for either of us.

  26. Ugh I’m sorry. For years I’ve gotten terrible eczema on my hands and I’ve gotten the same recommendation about soaking in super hot water. It does help temporarily. I have found that taking a daily antihistamine at the first sign really does help (after trying every different kind of steroid cream with varying success). I’ve also found that swimming in a chlorinated pool, oddly, helps. Hang in there :(

      1. We took a wrong turn on a hiking path and ended up trekking our whole extended family of 8 through poison ivy that was clinging to the walls we had to climb. I was super worried since there was no way any of us escaped contact. As soon as we got back to the car, we drove an hour back to town straight to the pool and I insisted we all jump in as a preventative measure before going home to shower. To my amazement and relief- not a single one of us broke out in the rash. I believe in the chlorine pool option. I also have found other times that the hot shower over the rash (and also chigger bites) draws out the histamines so that the painful itching subsides for a few hours to allow a little sleep when it’s at its worst. I was surprised to read the above comment that ot showers can spread it, so I will make sure I go to a pool first!

        1. When you go to the pool after getting poison oak, you get the urushiol off yourself by sharing the toxic oil with everyone who uses the pool. Don’t do it.

  27. Hi Gabrielle, So sorry to hear about your battle with poison oak! I grew up in Oakland and am also highly allergic. I used to take hot showers to ease the pain until a doctor told me it actually can make your rash worse. It opens the pores and can cause your rash to spread. Cool showers and cool compresses are what she suggested and subsequently it has seemed to help prevent future cases from spreading as quickly. Good luck!

  28. Re: the shower trick for poison ivy. To make the relief last even longer, put the affected area under the shower in VERY HOT water. Hot as you can stand it (without, you know, burning yourself. The hotter, the longer the relief! I am on the highly allergic end and this is the only thing that works for me!

  29. After years of having systemic reactions to poison ivy (and mangoes) I discovered what seems like a miracle cure (at least for me) At the first sign of a reaction I start taking Claritin daily and it seems to stop it from getting any worse. For a few summers as a camp counselor I just took Claritin all summer long and never even had a reaction.

  30. No hot water! I’m incredibly allergic also and have had multiple exposures, including inhaling smoke and ingesting it after eating roasted marshmallows (someone collected the firewood in the dark. Not a good idea!). I live in Northern CA and am active outside, so I’ve had it more times than I can count and have ended up in the emergency room with a horrible reaction. After years of fighting it, this is how I keep it in check and keep myself from getting all blistery:
    Wash up after exposure thoroughly with COLD water to keep the oil from spreading. If a rash begins to appear, start taking Benedryl and DO NOT touch it, scratch it or put it in contact with hot water. Those thing feel great, I know, but they spread the oil and make the rash much, much, much worse! Take Tylenol to help with the itching and use an anti-itch cream (I like Aveeno) to keep yourself from scratching the area inadvertently. If you do these things, it shouldn’t blister or scar and you can expect the rash to clear up in a few days. I also start taking the Hyland’s homeopathic Poison Ivy/Oak remedy and that seems to help keep it from blistering. It can be a bit of a mind game not to scratch it, but it makes a huge difference! Good luck!!! And I’ll be adding the wash cloth to my routine!

    1. I wondered that about my sheets and towels when I was having my first big rash, but I found if I washed them in really hot water with extra detergent it apparently got out the urushiol oil — at least I think it did, because I didn’t get further outbreaks.

      But if you’re in an area where it’s a constant problem, having a stack of the most inexpensive washcloths on hand, and then tossing them in the outside trash, wouldn’t be a bad option.

  31. Tecnu, Tecnu, Tecnu. I’ve struggled with poison oak most of my life and had some bad, so bad cases.

    As soon as you see any signs, wash with Tecnu. Wash all your clothes. Anything the oil may have touched.

    And yes, for those of us extremely allergic, mango skin can be a problem (wash w/Tecnu after dealing with the skin) and cashews. Two days after I eat cashews, my lips break out in poison oak blisters, oozing and all – so beyond horrible. I no longer do cashews, obviously!!

      1. Heather Marks

        I will second TECNU – easy to find at Fred Meyers/Krogers or any pharmacy-type store on the west coast. I too, get it very bad, my eyes swell shut, and if I get it anywhere, it seems to spread no matter what I do!

        One year at Girls Camp, we did a light coat of Tecnu as a lotion (which I don’t think the bottle suggests, but we did it anyway) and hiked RIGHT THROUGH the poison oak trail, and washed with it again in the river after the hike – NO poison oak!!! :) I have used it ever since if I know I will probably be exposed, or if the kids are in the backyard playing in the forest (and I’m somehow stuck with laundry that week), and during the busiest/outdoorsiest part of summer, I just add it to my shower routine.

        Since then, I haven’t had poison oak in 7 years!!! Definitely check it out! :)

  32. I have been dealing with a miserable poison ivy rash for the last two weeks! I’d never had it before and it wasn’t until I saw a doctor that I found out what it was. I have never felt so uncomfortable. It comes in these terrible waves where suddenly I am too hot and itchy to stand it. The best relief has been cold compresses, which seem to calm everything down. If I could just lay in a pool all day, I’m sure it would feel better. Wish I knew how I’d gotten it so I could avoid it in the future.

    I hope you get some relief soon!

  33. I live in Ohio and poison ivy is quite common here. I have had to deal with outbreaks at unlikely times due to not realizing something was contaminated months earlier. (like DURING the birth of my first child) The best thing I have found is washing off with FelsNaptha soap. It is a laundry soap, but it removes oils extremely well. Not quite organic I know, but it works! So my shins is wear I usually get it or hands and if I know I have been exposed- straight to the heavy duty soap for me. Seems to help with the duration of the rash as well. Just my two cents- although friends from Tennessee swear by soap made from Jewelweed. She says the rash will vanish immediately. But I don’t even know that I would recognize a jewelweed plant!

  34. Really interesting and helpful advice! I have one question: what do you do with the washcloth after using it to clean off your arms/legs/etc? Isn’t it now contaminated with the oil that can stay there for months or years? Can you wash the washcloth, or do you have to throw it away? Actually, same question for clothes that have come in contact with poison ivy–how to effectively wash them?

  35. I scanned through the responses and did not see anyone mention pets. Your cat and dog can bring the oil into the house on their coats. When you pet them you come in contact with the oil. When I was ten I got a horrible case of PO when I was at camp. Had to come home early. Never had another case until my fifties and it was not bad. Best to learn what it looks like and avoid.

    1. Sacha (@zigged)

      YES. A friend of mine’s daughter just got a super nasty case of poison ivy from their dog. I worry every time we go hiking in the woods and my dog goes snorfling off the trail. Been lucky so far!

  36. I learned the hard way that poison sumac is in my backyard in Baton Rouge, LA. Horrible, pussing, itchy mess that went systemic and then left absolutely no scars – after a steroid shot, oral ‘roids follow up, and the blessed “Luxiq” foam.

  37. staci torgerson

    I too am highly allergic. So when we had 2 largr.trees to fall in a storm my while family and neighbor and son all got infested with it. Thankfully, a friend brought me some Young Living Oregano oil and I mixed it with coconut oil and applied it and it was gone in 3 days. The itching stopped within 15 mins of applying it and I’d have to reapply ever 8 hrs. Yes, I smelled like a walking pizzeria but it saved my sanity and the scarring was minimal because I wasn’t clawing myself to death. Hopefully, you’ll never get it again but if you do, please try it. You’ll be the biggest fan.

  38. Relatives in East Texas taught me to take a bath in bleach. I know it sounds crazy, not to mention dangerous, but it works! I had a very similar experience with poison ivy and now am more susceptible to it with every year.
    Put about one cup of bleach in warm bath water, just enough to cover your legs. I get in and rub the water/bleach mixture all over my body. Usually stay in for about five minutes.
    Then drain the tub and take a regular shower with soap. Works every time. I also wash any clothes that I came into contact with in diluted bleach. Make sure you keep your hair out of the water!
    The one time I didn’t do this? You guessed it, poison ivy rashes everywhere. Be careful with it, obviously, but you’ll be able to enjoy the outdoors again!

  39. How awful for you! I was never allergic to poison ivy, but 3 weeks ago found out suddenly that now I am! I heard your allergies can change every seven years or so? Boo

  40. My friend at UC Santa Cruz, Dr. Rebecca Braslau, has developed a spray that lights up when it comes into contact with urushiol oil and is viewed unde a black light. Like you, she has an allergic reaction after any contact with poison oak. I think she’s trying to get funds to market her sprat, which would allow you to see this nasty oil. I smell a kickstarted campaign! Sorry to hear about all the suffering — I’m one of the lucky, asymptomatic few.

  41. Rachelle Ranck

    Jewelweed!! I live in PA and it has saved me. Google to find a picture. It grows abundantly near running water. I just open the stems and rub all over the rash. Also, boil down the leaves in a big pot and apply with a washcloth when cooled. It really helps me every summer when I inevitably contract poison ivy while raspberry picking. :)

  42. Sacha (@zigged)

    I can confirm that a doctor friend of mine told me to do what you describe in #4 when I had a bad case of the hives. At first it hurt/itched much worse but then SWEET RELIEF. She said the heat confuses the histamines and the relief comes as they try to regroup (or something, what do I know, I’m not a doctor). I never bothered with tepid oatmeal baths again.

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