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Leaves of 3, Let it Be . .

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First, let me say that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv. The advice, articles and recipes that I post on this site are based on my own experiences in life, either my own, or directly from close friends and family.

That being said, let me share with you something that brings me great personal Displeasure. I am extremely allergic to the following plants:

Poison Ivy ~ Poison Oak ~ Poison Sumac

When I say allergic, I don't mean, I get a few itchy bumps if I touch the plant.. what I mean specifically is I am so allergic to these that I once got Poison Ivy in the Middle of January -while living in MAINE, (with 3 feet of Snow on the ground) simply by touching dear husband's hunting clothing when putting away Christmas decorations!

Let me give you some pointers on dealing with the horrendous effects of the leaves of 3:

  • # Only 1 nanogram (billionth of a gram) is needed to cause rash
  • # Average is 100 nanograms for most people
  • # 1/4 ounce of urushiol is all that is needed to cause a rash in every person on earth (wonder if the terrorists ever thought of that!) *shudder*
  • #Urushiol oil stays active on any surface, including dead plants, for up to 5 years.



1. Contact If you believe you have come into contact with ANY part of the plant (leaves, stem, roots, Flowers), Immediately Flush your skin with COLD water continually for at Least 15 minutes.

Do Not use Warm water, do NOT use Hot water! Using warm or hot water simply opens up the pores in your skin and allows the urushiol oils to settle in, guaranteeing you misery within 48 hours.

If the urushoil oils are not completely removed from your skin within the first 20 minutes, they will bind with the proteins in your skin and you WILL get a rash.

2. Use COLD Water Shower in Cool water if at all Possible, but do NOT bathe in a Tubful of water, as you may find that when the rash erupts (& it will), you will have spread it to very delicate parts of your body that you did not wish it to be.

3. It can take 24-72 hours for the rash to fully appear... your skin may feel tight, swollen, hot and itchy.

4. Burning Any of the Plants (Ivy/Oak/Sumac) can result in the rash in your eyes and respiratory system, so be cautious when you burn leaves/brush in the spring and fall.

5. Is it Spreading? Well.. according to Medical Professionals, poison ivy/oak cannot spread through the bloodstream, or by itching the rash. Personally, I think this is complete BS and vehemently disagree with the establishment.

Once it is on your body in 1 spot, it can reappear Anywhere regardless of how meticulously you wash your hands, apply creams, lotions or sprays.

6. Preventing Recurring Rashes - Did you know that the oils of the plants can remain on clothing for up to 5 years? So, if junior rolled around in the poison ivy while he was playing hide and seek and then threw his clothes on top of yours in the laundry basket and you just happen to toss a load of laundry in, You might have just caught yourself a case of nasty poison ivy.

If your dog spot, or cat fluffy walks through poison ivy, and you pet him/her, you can get it.


Treatment & Remedies:

7 .Treat poison ivy like you would a lice or flea infestation- that is wash ALL the clothing, skin, bedding and toys that may have come into contact with a person covered in it. Washing clothing in your washer with regular detergent is just fine, no need to purchase special additives from the store.

8. My favorite Remedy for Poison Ivy is Jewelweed or Sweetfern- which just happens to grow right alongside them. Unfortunately, during certain times of the year, (like early April!) it can be rather difficult to find. If I have access to either, than no further treatment is necessary as the poison ivy/oak/sumac heals within just a few days.
More on Jewelweed & how to Prepare It

9. If you can be convinced that taking a bath would be soothing (at some point, you'll TRY anything), you could grind 1/4 c of oatmeal into a fine powder, place it in a nylon sock under the running water and bathe in it. It will relieve the itch. Pay close attention to how much you are using and how often you are using it, it can wreak havoc on your plumbing if you use too much oatmeal.

10. Treatments I've Tried:

Bleach-often recommended online, it's drying to the skin, can cause chemical burns and I don't recommend it. I know f several older folks who did this years ago and experienced issues with their skin (sensitivity, pain) for YEARS afterwards.

Tea Tree Oil- this is often diluted in a small amount of water, applied with a clean cloth or cottonballs. I've personally tried this- it Does dry the rash up, and helps a bit with the itching (for about 3-4 hrs) on average. Unfortunately, some people experience allergic reactions to the tea tree oil, and once again, if you have neglected to remove ALL of the urushiol oil, it'll spread.

Lemon & Salt- another foolish remedy I found on the web and was so desperate to try something/anything that I applied it. This one really sucks - you cut a lemon in half, douse it in salt and scrub. It results in a drying rash- broken blister bubbles, weeping poison ivy and a burning sensation that is matched by little else.

Preparation H - Once again, this is a remedy I saw online, several people swore by it. Upon application it is slightly cooling, then warms for a few moments, then back to itching as usual within a few minutes.

Hot Water - This remedy is one that again, is reserved for those in utter desperation. The idea is to place the affected part under water as hot as one can stand. This causes the body to release histamines (which is what makes you itch like hell!) and after several minutes, actually seems to overload the senses, bringing several hours of relief from itching. From experience, this does work, but it also opens the pores of your skin and lets any urushiol oils penetrate even deeper, causing more problems than its worth.

Rubbing Alcohol - once again, it depends on who you ask as to whether this works, some folks swear by it. Personally , if the alcohol is not at least 92%, it's useless. Then again, I certainly wouldn't apply 92% alcohol to a rash on a child!

Honorable Mentions - A few others that have been mentioned over the years, baking soda paste, banana peel puree, chlorine paste (again with the bleach- yech), maple syrup, saran wrap, and Miracle Whip. While I could on in great detail about these items, I don't recommend any of them.

11. Opting for Conventional Medicine- there have been times, (in winter, early spring) where my favorite herbal remedies have not been available- if you opt to go to the doctor they will more than likely prescribe a course of steroids (and if it's severe enough, will give you a steroid shot before you leave the office).

They may suggest Hydrocortisone Creams, which can be purchased at your local grocery store, such as Walmart. What you might not know is that creams containing hydrocortisone are not particularly safe for use on the face. (It thins the tissues of the face and can actually leave permanent marks).

Be aware that taking steroids suppresses your immune system and has several issues of its own. I experienced weight gain (9 lbs in 1 week)!, blurred vision (difficult to ascertain whether it was direct fault of the steroids or whether it was due to the blisters in my eyelids, hat in door syndrome (this is when all family members must first toss a hat through the doorway to determine if it's safe to enter the home). You may laugh, I'm quite serious.

There are wonderful homeopathic preventative treatments that you can take (daily) to prevent a case, such as Rhus Tox.

I hope if you've come across this article that it 's NOT because you are currently suffering with poison ivy/oak or sumac!

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Comments

  1. JoAnn's Avatar
    My favorite Remedy for Poison Ivy is Jewelweed or Sweetfern- which just happens to grow right alongside them. Unfortunately, during certain times of the year, (like early April!) it can be rather difficult to find. If I have access to either, than no further treatment is necessary as the poison ivy/oak/sumac heals within just a few days.
    I'll have to try the above section.
    Liss, you are not alone -- I sincerely Thank-You for the above post. I feel like a magnet to Poison Ivy ~ Poison Oak ~ Poison Sumac. When I was younger I never had a problem with these devil weeds ( I actually rolled in this stuff as a kid ). Talk about swelling and rash, Oh my I get it from head to toe... I wonder why this stuff is even on earth? Is there really a good use for " Poison Ivy ~ Poison Oak ~ Poison Sumac ". If someone could answer this question, maybe it could put some understanding in me.
  2. FreebieQueen's Avatar
    I'll have to try the above section.
    Liss, you are not alone -- I sincerely Thank-You for the above post. I feel like a magnet to Poison Ivy ~ Poison Oak ~ Poison Sumac. When I was younger I never had a problem with these devil weeds
    Sweetfern is my absolute favorite, you just pick a handful of the leaves, steep them in simmering water for 15-20 minutes and then dip a washcloth (it'll stain your cloth!) in and rub it on. I always use it hot, because 1. it feels better, lol, 2. the heat opens the pores and sucks up the medicine in the plant
    Really could've used some the last few weeks.
  3. JoAnn's Avatar
    Liss, I was wondering when you said
    you just pick a handful of the leaves steep them
    could you harvest this plant for it's leaves when it's bloom and maybe dry it or vacumn pack it and keep it for later use ? So when someone or myself has a out break, I could have it handy to use.
    I found this web site Poison Ivy Treatment from Nature's Jewelweed today and didn't find an anwser to my above question. But it did have a place that you can order a soap and spray to help prevent an out break.
    The soap and spray showed a health shelf life of two years
    they are stating..
    Looking for a little relief and maybe prevention this year..I ended up in the hospital last year --throat about closed up.
  4. danghsia's Avatar
    thank for sharing the information
  5. Liss's Avatar
    could you harvest this plant for it's leaves when it's bloom and maybe dry it or vacumn pack it and keep it for later use ?
    Yes, you probably could, although drying would remove alot of the oils of the plant. Usually I make a salve, I steep the plant in olive oil for several weeks (make sure the leaves are completely covered, check everyday) then melt a small amount of beeswax, strain your oil so no pieces of sweet fern (or jewelweed/or combo of both) remain, combine the infused oil with the melted beeswax, pour into mini mason jars, add 1/4 tsp vitamin E oil (the contents of 2 capsules usually)- I use this for preservative.
    This is wonderfully soothing and seems to work great for us. We've also frozen sweet fern cubes to use to "wash" poison ivy off the skin when we come in from hunting/fishing, gardening, etc. Basically anywhere we could have been exposed. The hard part for me is making Enough of it, lol.Last year I thought we had eradicated the poison ivy/oak around the property, so I got lazy and didn't make any salve. I won't make that mistake again.
  6. mdowdy's Avatar
    Thanks for the info Liss, I can look at the stuff and catch it.
  7. KawaiiGiggle's Avatar
    thanks for this info. some i knew, since i have the same allergic reaction to it. but there are a few tips i'm gonna keep. Thanks so much hun!! also, i forgot to add this, my grandfather used to use paint thinner on poison ivy. i got it real bad when i was about 6 or 7 when i was playing in a field near a family friend's house.. it burned horribly but it did work... i'm still not sure if you REALLY want to put paint thinner on a child.. crazy old grampas.. LOL
    Updated 04-14-2009 at 02:59 AM by KawaiiGiggle (forgot to add something..)

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