Reasons to get out of bed…

I’m really allergic to poison ivy and I always have been. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t like the outdoors. I’m not convinced that I can recognise poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac… so pretty much anything green makes me nervous.

Here is what WedMD says poison ivy looks like:

Does anyone else read that as “It could seriously look like anything… move to Alaska or Hawaii?” I do…

I have gotten poison ivy every year of my life since I was 6 years old (at least that’s the first time I remember getting it… and it was so terrible my mother had to take me to the doctor). Most years, I simply get it from my cats (because I certainly won’t touch anything green!) I typically get it on my forearms and it’s not that bad when I get it second-hand because the cats have played in the bushes.

I’ve had poison ivy this time since Saturday… I’m guessing it’s somehow from the Color Run, but I don’t remember touching any flora… Anyway, it’s the second time  in one month that I had poison ivy and my patience is running a little thin… This time, it’s not just on my forearms, but I have patches from my eyebrows to my ankle (but the worst spot is the inside of my elbow! Curses… it’s just helping itself to spread!)

To cheer myself up, I thought I would share some of the home remedies that my (also very allergic) family and I have discovered. WebMD recommends calamine lotion and a cold compress… let me offer a few others for you if you’re in the itchy boat with me. (Note: these are just some tricks I’ve learned over the years, everyone is different, and you should never take a blogger’s advice over your doctor’s.)

I totally agree with WebMD – a cold compress can be heavenly!

I’m not a fan of calamine lotion personally. First, anything I have to rub on poison ivy, makes me nervous of spreading it more. I think calamine only stops the itching for a short period of time. Once it has dried, it becomes flaky and then makes you want to scratch at the flakes. Oh and it’s bright pink and the whole world can see it… making my ugly rash MORE noticeable. Nope, that doesn’t work for me. If I want some instant pain relief, I want a spray. I found this Anti-itch spray at CVS a few years ago and I LOVE it! It works really nicely… not for too long of course, but it’s easy to reapply.

My all time favorite cure is Apple Cider Vinegar “with the Mother” (it means that it’s fermented and has a gross, brown slime – but it works better than the kind without it) As long as you don’t mind smelling like a slightly rotting salad, this stuff is amazing! It totally dries out the skin (and the nasty oils that cause the rash). While it won’t actually numb the pain, your rash will be gone so much faster. And it’s the only thing that I don’t mind rubbing on because I’ve found it doesn’t spread the oils (because it makes your skin so uninhabitable). I love, love, love this stuff!!!! I worked from home today just so I could keep covering my rashes with a vinegar compress and I can already see my rash going away (I was out of the vinegar from earlier in the month, so I just picked up a new bottle last night). You might not be able to find it at any grocery store (my local Stop & Shop didn’t have it), but I found it at Whole Foods (or try at a local health food store if your town has one). Note: I would not recommend putting this on your face: it really burns the eyes!

To avoid the spread: obviously wash your hands often and thoroughly! You can easily spread the nastiness with your fingers and nails, so keep them clean! Try not to scratch… it will only make things worse…

Next, I would recommend having a finger dedicated to your eyes. Don’t let that finger touch anything else (even if you don’t think that body part is infected). Personally, I use only my ring fingers on my eyes (in case I have an eyelash in my eye or if I want to rub them when tired). I can promise you, the last thing you want to do is spread poison ivy to yours eyes… My poor brother was completely blind for 36 hours in 1994 (he was 8 years old) because his eyes were 100% swollen shut.

When sleeping, cover the infected area. If you have poison ivy on your arms, may I suggest covering them with their own pillow cases at night? Use a new, clean pillow case every night. If it’s on your torso or legs, wrap the area in a separate sheet. This will help keep the rash from touching an area that’s not infected (and thus spreading it). If you know you’re a scratcher when you’re asleep, cover your hands in pillow cases or oven mitts. Yes, it’s ridiculous, but I swear it helps!

Arms in pillow cases (and those are shorts, in case you were wondering) And I’m rocking some Olympic pride with my USA Luge shirt… yes, it’s a winter sport…

Also, to avoid the spread, I avoid physical activities because the sweating makes me nervous. I haven’t run in almost a week. 😦 I ran the Finish on the 50 with poison ivy (there was no way I was going to miss that race) and it only spread a little bit (and the endorphins kicked in so I wasn’t focused on the increased blood flow making me puffier and itchier) – but I’m not going to risk it for a fun run, alone in my neighborhood.

Lastly, the ultimate, premier, most spectacular cure is the ocean. It’s not always easy to get to an ocean, but if you can: do it! I swear it’s like a wonder cure for me! A few hours in the ocean and my rash is on its way to dried up! It’s not just the salt water though, I’ve tried making my own at home and it’s not as good. I don’t know what it is about the ocean, maybe the fish pee is the secret ingredient (or more likely the other minerals), but it’s the antidote to poison ivy.

Good luck staying itch free this summer!

Do you have any poison ivy home remedies?


Comments on: "I Smell Like Vinegar – and Other Poison Ivy Home Remedies" (7)

  1. I am also very allergic to poison ivy. When I get it, it starts as a tiny patch and within 24 hours, I am covered head to toe. I have to get a prescription of prednisone from the doctor. That’s the only thing that helps me. Nothing worse!!!

  2. My best remedy for poison ivy is hot water. I run the affected area under hot water and keep increasing the temperature until it is unbearable (of course stop before the possibility of burns). While you do this, the area will itch like it never itched before but, whatever you do, don’t scratch. You’ll notice after a few minutes the itching will subside. After this “treatment” I am comfortable and itch-free for several hours. When I shared this with a doctor friend, he said that it works because the hot water is temporarily releasing all the histamines that cause itch and it takes awhile to build them up again. All I know is that it works for me. Hope you feel better soon!

    • That’s my mom’s favorite “treatment” as well! How cool to know the science behind it now! Thanks!

      I made it to the ocean on Saturday so I’m feeling much better, thanks. The swelling in my arm has gone down and I can bend my elbow again, so I’m much, much happier! 🙂

  3. Gordy Sheer said:

    Love the vintage USA Luge shirt!

    • Thanks! It’s from the 90s. I got it when I tried out for the USA Junior team… I didn’t make the team because I broke my hand. 😦 Luge is still my favorite winter Olympic sport though.

  4. […] I Smell Like Vinegar – and Other Poison Ivy Home Remedies « My … […]

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