Poison Ivy

Ivy_1As I was running outside this afternoon, I was reminded of summer’s entrance and what comes with it. Every year around this time I have to be careful to avoid one of nature’s greatest scourges: poison ivy. Actually, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac all have the basic effect, but poison ivy gets the blame. A good friend of mine is currently battling an outbreak, and I sympathize. I have had numerous nearly total body outbreaks. In high school I got it so bad that it covered my entire calves, and I remember having to practice football in the hot summer with socks pulled up to my knees while the oil oozed from the sores.

The oil in poison ivy responsible for its effects (urushiol oil) is so potent that one ounce of it could cause everyone in America to break out. There is just no real good way of treating or preventing poison ivy, save avoiding contact with it, which is difficult for those like me who like to run and hike outside. I usually avoid an area of the local state park we call "the pines" because poison ivy grows on and around the trail. That is too bad because it’s an intriguing area of the park that smells like Christmas year round.

As far as treatment goes, as I said, not much works. Sure, some of the products relieve the symptoms, but in general you just have to wait it out. I have tried various home remedies as well, and nothing really works. I just have to be very careful and avoid it like the plague and wash well after any potential exposure. However, I got a few patches in late April that disappeared in a few days. I scrambled to think what I might have been taking or doing to reduce the outbreak. The only thing I am doing differently this year is taking Stinging Nettle (whose white blooms fill the forest in the late summer) capsules for my allergies. Of course, it all could just be a coincidence or maybe it wasn’t even poison ivy to begin with. Remember "leaves of three, let it be!"