It's back. This was the first summer that I didn't get poison ivy -- or so I thought. I typically get a terrible case in June. It can be tough to figure out where it came from because sometimes it doesn't emerge until DAYS after the garden work was done. Other times it will emerge on places on my body that would never have come in contact with the leaves -- like my stomach. There are certain areas of my body that seem to be weakened or more susceptible. I've gotten on my neck, my face, my ears, armpits, ankles and between the toes, but its usually on my lower arms. The itch can be debilitating -- I've called in sick because of it.
Most over the counter products don't work for me. Some that lots of people swear by are Technu soap and Zanfel. I found that these took off the oils and helped the itching for a little while. Zanfel did seem to help stop spreading, but the itch came back. Ivy-Dry helped the itch -- for about 20 minutes. Below are a few things that I think work:
Fels-Naptha soap. This soap is meant to be used for laundry. It's very strong and corrosive so you shouldn't leave it on your skin for too long. But it will strip any poison ivy oil that is left on your skin right off. It's also cheap - less than $2. Unlike Technu. Try to get in the shower within 2 hours of being exposed.
2) Stopping the Spreading
Chlorine Bleach. I learned about this remedy by asking a pharmacist what he thought the best cure for poison ivy was. He said to take 1 part bleach and 2 parts water and wash with it. I've taken it a step farther - rather I've taken this advice to the crazy extreme. The best way to stop blisters in their tracks is to APPLY THE BLEACH DIRECTLY ONTO YOUR BLISTER with a Q-tip. Just a little dab. It might sting a little, but within a day or so, the bleach will have neutralized the oils, and the blisters will dry up and start to scab over and flake off. Once the bleach is applied, the blisters won't spread. Make sure you let the bleach dry completely before putting your clothes back on. (I learned the hard way.)
These are the two best products for itching and I use them alternately. The Benadryl is a nice cool gel and feels good at bedtime. Cortizone 10 (or Cortaid) will take the swelling and redness down.
4) Last ditch effort. Prednisone (cortisone tablets)
My doc is used to writing me a prescription for this every summer when I decide I can't take it anymore. The relief is significant after 1 day, but you have to take it for 10.
What else works??