|I really feel as if I am am somewhat of an expert of living with Poison Ivy and Poison Oak. I have had Poison Ivy hundreds of times and since I moved to California I have had posion Oak several times. If someone even breathes the word Poison Ivy/oak I will undoubtedly get it.
Posion Oak is by far 1000 times more potent than Poison Ivy, which means it makes your life absolutely miserable. One year my husband and I passed it back and forth for 6 weeks!!!
I once got Poison Oak from a pair of hiking boots I had worn a year earlier!!!
Fun fact: the amount of poison Oak oil that fits on a pinhead is enough to infect a small village!!!
Here are some tips in dealing with these rashes:
-Poison Ivy/Oak is an oil that will act as all oils will, heat will warm it up and spread it around- so hot water will act as a great highway for spreading the oil around to other parts of your body. Be very aware of your showers since this is how much of the oil with spread from place to place and start new itchy colonies. I would seriously refrain from bathes and please do not go and use public pools or other public areas where you have a chance to infect others- steam rooms, hot tubs, hot springs etc.
- Always wash everything your rash touches on a daily or bi-daily basis! Very important since the reason my husbnad and I kept sharing the rash was the sheets in our bed. We eventually had to have seperate sheets.
-You will need to clean and redress your rash out twice a day at first and then at least once a day nearer to the end.
I have some other tips that docotrs may not approve of- but if you have these rashes you will quickly say "to hell with the doctors"
I am a pretty anal retentive/OCD type of functioning person so when I say "clean," or "controlled environment" I really mean it.
These rashes are at times unlivable and yes you can go to the hospital and get a cortizone shot to stop the itching- however I do not believe that this is 100% fool proof for itch blocking and you will still need to deal with an oozing or weeping rash that is still very potent to you and others. I think the cortizone shot desensitzes your itch nerves so you can function.
Do not try any of the following on any private parts, eyes, ears, throat etc. See a doctor if you get rashes in any of these places!! these could be very very serious!!!!
Most of the time I get poison oak on my ankles/legs or arms after hiking.
-The rash will appear a couple of days after you are kissed by the plant.
I use the following regiment:
You will need:
soap- no oils or fragrences- Ivory soap works good
calamine lotion or calahist lotion (Calahist stops the allergic itching) I prefer the spray on calamine lotion.
If you do not have calamine lotion handy, create a paste with water and baking soda. Some people use clay as well
1.in a controlled environment- a sink- with running water I take a paper towel, get it wet in cool water, rub it on soap...and then use that to itch the hell out of my poison oak/ivy. This is my favorite step and I usually itch it until it bleeds. I do not rinse and reuse the towel EVER! or touch anything after the paper towel has touched my poison oak/ivy. If I felt I needed more soap I would get a new paper towel and start from the beginning. After using the towel I throw it away or flush it down the toilet.
2. I then wash my hands with soap scrubbing under my nails thuroughly. I wash my hands often during the day.
3. I pour hydrogen peroxide on the open ooozing, bleeding rash and let bubble for a couple of minutes
4. I rinse off by pouring isopropyl alcolhol on the oozing, bubbling rash
* you will need large bottles of hydrogen peroxide and Isopropyl alcohol as you will use much of it in the coming weeks...yes weeks
5. pouring directly onto your skin from the bottle, apply a thick layer of calamine/calahist lotion. use the cotton ball to stop dripping and spread lotion around. throw cotton ball in trash and do not reuse.do not touch used cotton ball to calamine lotion bottle as it is now contaminated.
*ANYTHING that touches the rash should be considered contaminated and thrown away- do you have a Hazmat suit? just kidding.
6. let lotion dry and reapply if necessary.calamine lotion cracks and you want a thick sturdy layer. If you are using baking soda paste this will stay on for a short bit and then flake all over the place. you can also use clay if you want to try that-
***they key to this process is that you are drying out weeping, oozing oils.
DO NOT EVER USE ANY OILS, LOTIONS OR CREAMS TO TREAT POISON OAK/IVY- you are trying to dry out the rash and the surrounding skin. you do not want to create moist, supple skin- you want dry aligator-like flaky skin
7. once dry, bandage the rash so you can move on with life. For my ankle I have actually wrapped a paper towel around it and taped the paper towel on. Sine you will be going through several dressings a day I prefer to use cheaper materials. scotch tape and tape towels. (I tape the towel to itself, not to my skin)
8. you will repeat this process twice a day until the itching goes away a bit and then, when livable, once a day until the rash is completely gone. this could take 2 or more weeks.
The key is to keep the rash clean and to dry it out with calamine lotion, clay or baking soda.
for my legs and ankles I will wash my pants after wearing them once- remember that boot I mentioned earlier?
In some cases I will take an oral antihistimine because it will help stop some of the itching- by blocking whatever it is I am allergic to.
Good luck, wash your hands often and do not focus on the itching.