Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac more prevalent this year

10:53 a.m. on June 22, 2010 (EDT)
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This morning's Wall Street Journal has an article on the front page of the Personal Journal section on the Least Welcome Sign of Summer. One hopeful sign for me is that it says that sensitivity declines with age. BUT, it also notes that people go many years with no reaction and then develop a severe reaction - that's me! I had no reaction to poison oak (what we have on the Left Coast, especially California), poison ivy (found everywhere east of the Rockies, though starting to spread westward), and poison sumac (mostly swampy areas, such as the Deep South). I had encountered all three during my moves around the country and no reaction. I could participate in trail building and maintenance projects and carry bundles of the cut plants while wearing T-shirt and shorts and no reaction. Then, shortly after a trail building project on a drizzly day, I got this rash over my entire body. A visit to the doctor told me, "You react now!".

Ever since, I have taken myriad precautions. I have used Ivy Armor (seems to work in conjunction with other treatment) before going on advanced orienteering competitions (lots of off-trail excursions), and washed immediately after my runs with Tecnu and dishwashing detergents (like Dawn). I find that a diphenhydramine tablet or two immediately after exposure helps, as does slathering diphenhydramine gel on the developing rash (diphenhydramine is the generic Benadryl - don't take the tablets while coating with the gel). I am told that Zanfel ($40 for a 4-ounce tube) works well, but somehow I haven't felt like spending that much when other things work.

The WSJ also has a parallel article on home remedies and a video. I tried to embed the video, but wasn't successful. I think you can see it by going here, except with a bunch of commercials.

11:39 a.m. on June 22, 2010 (EDT)
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If you are in a region somewhere that it grows, Jewelweed is excellent at clearing up and preventing poison ivy (or oak) reactions. There are two main varieties, Pale Jewelweed (Impatiens pallida), and Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).

Though there are conflicting studies on the effectiveness of the plant at helping with or preventing reaction to Poison Ivy and other skin irritants, I know how my skin responds if i don't use it. When I have applied Jewelweed after exposure to poison oak and ivy, even if I waded through dense thickets of it, I have never developed a rash. I will experience a festering, spreading, horrible reaction that lasts for weeks if I do not treat it with jewel weed.

Apply juices from the suculent leaves and stems of the plant by crushing and squeezing the liquid out.

11:42 a.m. on June 22, 2010 (EDT)
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Jewelweed is among the home remedies discussed in the second article. It is an ingredient in some soaps.

12:57 p.m. on June 22, 2010 (EDT)
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We run into poison ivy often when we do tree clearing on our lot. If you notice immediately that you have touched poison ivy you must start washing your hands almost immediately for the next fifteen minutes. you have to be very aware of it so you can react, but at that point you might just try to avoid it :P


but if you realize it, you can almost immediately prevent it!

1:37 p.m. on June 22, 2010 (EDT)
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Reminds me: A couple summers ago we were at a popular trailhead. There was a big patch of poison ivy. Kids in shorts and their dogs were just having a grand time running around in it. I told one of the parents what they were running through and she freaked.

3:17 p.m. on June 22, 2010 (EDT)
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My mom swears that if you come into contact with something like poison oak, ivy, sumac etc use some old school fels naptha soap. Soap up the areas to a good lather and let it dry on you skin. She sez problem solved, I have never have had the opportunity to try it I have used benadryl gel and had good results from that.

Leaves of three let them be.... well for some of it anyways

7:06 p.m. on June 22, 2010 (EDT)
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Shouldn't this thread have preceded the Naked Hiking Day thread??

9:00 p.m. on June 22, 2010 (EDT)
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My mom swears that if you come into contact with something like poison oak, ivy, sumac etc use some old school fels naptha soap. Soap up the areas to a good lather and let it dry on you skin. ..

I don't know about letting the suds dry on your skin. But Fels Naptha is a pretty good grease remover. So that part is good advice, basically the same as washing thoroughly with a grease-cutting dishwashing soap, but do rinse it off. Dried on soap can cause itching by itself.

11:22 p.m. on June 22, 2010 (EDT)
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Itching is not a good thing at all. My secretary thinks I am really strange for scratching my back on my office door jamb.


I asked her to rub my back with lotion but she says it's not in her job description......... I told her I just can not reach that part of my back. I think that she is just uncaring...............


JK :)

11:52 p.m. on June 22, 2010 (EDT)
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I used to have a very good article saved to my computer, I'll see if I can find it.

I am not fortunate enough to be immune to any of the 3 plants, but I usually have very few problems as long as I stay alert and avoid rubbing or scratching with my hands while hiking. I wash my face, hands, arms, & legs with Technu when bushwhacking in warmer months. If I remember correctly Technu contains Mineral Spirits.

According to what I have read, you have to wash soon after coming into contact with the plant, the Urushiol will bind with the skin in about 30 minutes and it doesn't take long for the irritation to start. The general rule of thumb is to wash within 4 hours of contact, again based on what I read.

I have also had good results with these:

A mixture of 1 part white gas and 4 parts dish soap. This can be made on the trail and will strip the Urushiol (the oily irritant ) off your skin pronto. I can not attest to how safe this is, or what the chances are of some one having a sensitivity to this mixture, but I do know it works. Works on pine sap too.

Gojo (contains petroleum distillates) hand cleaner works well also.

I have not tried it, but there is a commercially prepared solution of Manganese Sulfate that de-activates the Urushiol. I can not remember the name of it.

One thing is for sure, I hate rashes & itching and Poison Ivy is hard for me to get rid of.

12:04 a.m. on June 23, 2010 (EDT)
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My mom swears that if you come into contact with something like poison oak, ivy, sumac etc use some old school fels naptha soap. Soap up the areas to a good lather and let it dry on you skin. She sez problem solved, I have never have had the opportunity to try it I have used benadryl gel and had good results from that.

Leaves of three let them be.... well for some of it anyways

Um....Fels Naptha soap is a bar laundry soap...right?

I'll give that a try.

12:46 a.m. on June 23, 2010 (EDT)
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If you are in a region somewhere that it grows, Jewelweed is excellent at clearing up and preventing poison ivy (or oak) reactions. There are two main varieties, Pale Jewelweed (Impatiens pallida), and Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).

Though there are conflicting studies on the effectiveness of the plant at helping with or preventing reaction to Poison Ivy and other skin irritants, I know how my skin responds if i don't use it. When I have applied Jewelweed after exposure to poison oak and ivy, even if I waded through dense thickets of it, I have never developed a rash. I will experience a festering, spreading, horrible reaction that lasts for weeks if I do not treat it with jewel weed.

Apply juices from the suculent leaves and stems of the plant by crushing and squeezing the liquid out.

Curiously, one of the names for this most helpful plant is "Touch-Me-Not!"

10:39 a.m. on June 23, 2010 (EDT)
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mike068 said:

My mom swears that if you come into contact with something like poison oak, ivy, sumac etc use some old school fels naptha soap. Soap up the areas to a good lather and let it dry on you skin. She sez problem solved, I have never have had the opportunity to try it I have used benadryl gel and had good results from that.

Leaves of three let them be.... well for some of it anyways

Um....Fels Naptha soap is a bar laundry soap...right?

I'll give that a try.

Yes, it is the big yellow bar, been around for a century or more. It is a bit hard to find these days - old school and all that, doesn't come in a fancy box with perfumes, decorative colors, fancy shapes, etc.

11:57 a.m. on June 23, 2010 (EDT)
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Yep trying to find Fels Naptha Soap it hard to find these days, the last time I saw a bar of it it was double the length of a standard bar soap and was packaged in white paper with a green label.

12:32 p.m. on June 23, 2010 (EDT)
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hmm.. Im certainly not old yet by any means, but it sure seems that my poison ivy attacks have diminished over the past several years. And not because Ive been spending less time in the woods by any means.

I can distinctly remember as a child getting those intense rashes quite frequently during the Summertime after messing around in the woods behind my house. But presently I don't remember getting any rashes at all in the recent past 3 or 4 years.

Even in the past couple months ive made several runs to my favorite gorge which requires off-trail bushwhacking to reach a waterfall. Climbing out of the ridge through thick poison ivy growth, I thought i was doomed come the next morning. However, no rashes showed up.

Maybe i just lucked out, maybe my susceptibility to it diminished?... who knows. But I sure don't mind the new talent though ;]

9:25 a.m. on June 24, 2010 (EDT)
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Renegade, Do you mind if I ask which gorge and waterfal you metion? There are so many locations that it could be here- I have probably been to the same spot...

9:31 a.m. on June 24, 2010 (EDT)
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Curiously, one of the names for this most helpful plant is "Touch-Me-Not!"


That's because the ripe seed capsules snap open when you touch them, throwing the seeds away from the plant. Always good for at least a few minutes entertainment with kids.

10:55 a.m. on June 24, 2010 (EDT)
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I always use a solution of baking soda and white vinegar by making a paste of it and smearing it on the affected area, Ahhhh relief in no time, but I tend to be fairly immune to the effects of oak, ivy and sumac...Knock on wood, but I carry a zip lock bag with baking soda in it and a small bottle of white vinegar with me when I am out and about, both can be used for other things around the campsite also, the vinegar can be used to help remove burnt gunk from scorched pans, the baking soda and some flour and water and a pinch of salt for some drop biscuits, vinegar will also help sooth sunburn, here is another tip Prep-H jell works GREAT! On insect stings and bites draws the poison out and cools the wound, this is from the high amount of witch-hazel in it R_Ranger

11:08 a.m. on June 24, 2010 (EDT)
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yep gonzan you've more than likely been there, its the off trail waterfall at the Rock Creek gorge section up there near Sale Creek..pretty dang close to my house conveniently. When on the trail at the 4th creek crossing, i do some boulder jumping and follow the rocky bed down into the gorge. gorgeous creek. ill post some pics of it all soon.

11:37 a.m. on June 24, 2010 (EDT)
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Renegade,

What up man this is Joe W. from Athens we were in B. S. together, good to see your stil in the area we should go hiking sometime.

11:14 p.m. on June 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Joe long time no talk! and whoda thought we'd end up coming across each other on this medium. Of course im always game for some hiking, got plenty of close places in mind. hope all's well

1:18 a.m. on June 29, 2010 (EDT)
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I always use a solution of baking soda and white vinegar...

Baking soda also prevents shoe odor, so it can do double, triple, maybe quadruple duty depending on the many uses you guys mentioned. Maybe I should write a gear review ;-)

It creates an alkaline environment that prevents bacterial growth.

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