Yes as the title reads you may think I have found a way to stop a poison ivy outbreak. Unfortunately no, I have not. However I have gotten it so many times now that I have a system of making it much less bothersome. First some background:
I have had a poison ivy infection six times in my life. Three of those times included trips to the emergency room. My last trip to the emergency room was due to partial blindness caused by the infection taking over 70 percent of my face. It seems now that if I even get downwind of the stuff, I start to itch. Each infection was treated medically with steroids via a shot or pills and creams. The problem being that eventually these creams made no difference and I had to find a new solution.
I know your thinking “Well Bill, learn what it looks like or just don’t go in the woods."
Due to my fondness for all things outdoors I have settled with the fact that I am going to get it again no matter how hard I try not to. My last outbreak was my dog's fault. She had been running in it and brought the Urushiol home on her fur.
Urushiol, what the heck is Urushiol?
It is the oily chemical compound on the plant that causes the skin outbreak. Urushiol can be found on poison ivy, sumac and poison oak. Urushiol is the reason just wearing pants, gloves or long sleeves is not enough when exposed. The oily chemical and be rubbed on or absorbed by clothing (or dogs) and still cause an outbreak days later if skin contact is made. Thankfully washing these items in the laundry will knock it out. Although putting your dog in the laundry machine is not advisable.
Now on to my relief or cure:
I strongly suggest going to the doctor and getting a steroid shot as the first step. Also, I have found the science behind what makes you itch is the buildup of histamines in your body. Taking an anti-histamine can help. The best way to cure the itch without medication is to run the affected area under very hot water for about 5 minutes. I start with water warm and build it up until I get it hot enough to the point where I can barely stand it anymore without pain. Once at that heat level I start timing the five minutes. This heat releases the histamines and the itch will be gone for up to two hours.
The other cure I have found that works better than anything else out there is a product called Zanfel. I have tried every home remedy you can find on the internet as well as many of the different prescribed creams. Some worked a little bit, others did absolutely nothing. I found that nothing beats Zanfel. It is expensive (around $25 per bottle, which has multiple doses in it) and you must follow the directions perfectly, but in the end Zanfel will stop the itching, remove the urushiol and cure you in one if not two treatments. You can find Zanfel in most pharmacies and outdoors stores. Here is a link to their website http://www.zanfel.com/help/
Remember, the only way to stop the infection is to get the urushiol off of your skin. Once the urushiol is gone itching will not spread the infection and you are on your way to recovery. Spend some time outdoors, its a wild place to be!