If you’ve ever had a bad case of poison ivy, you fully understand how severe the itch and pain can be. I’ve had small tiny bouts with it in the past, but those were NOTHING compared to what I experienced last year.
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That Time I Had the Worst Case of Poison Ivy
It was a few days before labor day weekend. I vividly recall letting the dogs out front to run around. As soon as I let them in, Koda layed on top of my lower legs to cuddle up and nap. The next day, I had the worst, full blown case of poison ivy ever – it was terrible and covered the lower half of both my legs and parts of my back where I must’ve transferred the oils. It itched, it burned and I literally wanted to tear my skin off.
I did not work in the gardens at all so, in hindsight, I’m certain she stepped in a small patch in the well garden because I saw her in that garden right before she came inside. I should have known better because I knew there was small vine in the center of that bed that needed to be pulled but I hadn’t gotten around to pulling it just yet? Do you think that way sometimes too? Well that is the last time I will ever put off doing that again! I learned that lesson the hard way.
Identifying Poison Ivy
Leaves of three leave them be! Be on the look out for anything with three leaves. Some incorrectly assume the leaves need to have some red to them to be Poison Ivy but that is not always the case. Always err on the side of precaution because it’s not worth the risk.
Also, it does not matter what time of year you come in contact with a vine. Every part of this plant, which includes the leaves, the stem, the vine and the root system, has the oils on it. The oil does not go dormant. So beware!
For more information about identifying and controlling Poison Ivy, see Poison Ivy and Brush Control Around the Home Grounds by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
Remove it when you find it
As soon as you see Poison Ivy – don’t wait. Grab a pair of gloves and get it out. Given what happened to me, it’s not worth walking away thinking you’ll pull it later.
To insure the follow through, preparation is key! I keep kitchen gloves on hand with my garden supplies, so I can quickly grab long, disposable gloves to yank those vines out. When you pull poison ivy, be sure to get the whole vine and root system out. If you don’t pull the whole thing out, it will grow back. Throw it all away in a garbage bag and do not compost it or let it lay around in your yard.
When working in the garden it is strongly recommended to wear long sleeves, long pants, socks, sneakers and completely cover as much skin as possible to protect yourself from Poison Ivy exposure. Wash it all plus any tools that came in contact with the vine when you are done. Admittedly, this is not always possible, particularly in the heat of summer. But the less covered your are, the more at risk you are for coming in contact with the plant.
After working in the garden, always wash up with soap, a washcloth and cold water. This is extremely important, particularly if you know you came in contact with Poison Ivy. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT wash with warm or hot water. Warm and hot water will open your pores and allow the ivy oils to penetrate the skin. Always always ALWAYS use cold water!
In addition to washing yourself immediately, be sure to wash everything you wore and any tools you used. Those oils can remain on things for a very long time and the last thing you want is to reinfect yourself later. So be sure to wash it all with hot soapy water.
The Best Over-the-Counter Products
There are some that swear by a good scrubbing of soap, washcloth, and cold water when they come indoors. That’s great if that works for you. In general, I do that. However, I also use the following products when I have been knee-deep weeding in my gardens or know I came in contact with Poison Ivy because I want to insure I got all of the oils off me.
As with any product, follow the manufacturer’s directions of each. I cannot guarantee you will never get Poison Ivy with the use of these products. However, for me, these products have significantly minimized the impact after coming in contact with the plant. If you try these products, I hope you find the same success. They are pricey, but well worth the cost!
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I use several Technu products religiously and they work extremely well. During the gardening season, I keep supplies in the shower and around the house so I can quickly grab one if necessary on the fly.
I keep this cleanser in both my kitchen and shower so I can quickly wash off any potential contamination after working in the beds. Since I use this product often, I purchase the larger size.
I keep this scrub in the shower. The tube is not large so get the two pack and keep the other one on hand. This products not only helps to get the oils off but also helps control the itch.
Maximum Strength Anti-Itch Gel
This soothing gel helps relieve the itch and pain associated with the rash.
The Itch Relief Spray
This anti-itch spray helps reduce the itchiness of the rash.
In my opinion, Zanfel is one step above Technu products, but a little more expensive. And I say this with the utmost respect for Technu because I love those products and use them regularly.
But, when I had the worst case of Poison Ivy ever, Technu products did not provide me with as much relief as Zanfel. Since I had no idea I came in contact with the oils, it remained on my skin for a while until it was too late. When I realized I had Poison Ivy and it was getting worse, I tried everything and went through several Technu products but nothing really resolved the severity of that particular rash.
My doctor prescribed a steroid which helped a little but I was still miserable. A week and a half in, nothing was working so I started researching home remedies as well as other products on the market. Through research, I found lots of positive reviews for Zanfel. With no healing in sight, I was so desperate for a cure that I bought it and let me tell you, it was the only thing that really helped with the pain, suffering and healing process. From the first use, that rash started to improve.
Since that happened to me, I keep this product on hand. Zanfel was not well stocked in local pharmacies. And where I did find it, the product was more expensive than Amazon.
Have you ever had a bad case of poison ivy? Since last year’s debacle, I am super sensitive whenever I see it. I look for it everywhere I go – my gardens, on hikes, running around town and even walks around my block. After my experience last year, I do not want to go through that again.
I would love to hear what you think! Do you have any tips, tricks or products you like to use to combat the rash? Please leave your ideas, comments & more below or contact me here. Be sure to find me @bricksnblooms on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram!
Thank you for following along and touring the gardens with me. Enjoy your day! xo
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