Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are wild plants that thrive in many wooded parts of this country. They all produce a compound called urushiol. People who get this chemical on their skin frequently develop a contact dermatitis that is maddening, with a rash and itching that just won’t quit. The suffering can be intense. Is there a way to stop the suffering from poison ivy?
Preventing Suffering from Poison Ivy with a Wash:
Q. I have been using Tecnu for years to control poison ivy. It removes the poison ivy oil completely when it’s used after contact with the plant. It also helps dry up the rash if I haven’t washed with it after contact, though I don’t know why.
Some people use Zanfel for their poison ivy rash, but I have found that it is pricey. It costs about ten times more per ounce than Tecnu.
Removing Urushiol to Stop Suffering from Poison Ivy:
A. Zanfel Poison Ivy Wash and Tecnu Outdoor Skin Cleanser help remove the urushiol oil from exposure to poison ivy, oak or sumac. If used promptly after contact, these washes can prevent the itchy rash that normally results.
A barrier cream such as IvyX can be applied before going outside. It should help protect the skin from urushiol and make it easier to wash off.
The sooner you remove uroshiol after contact with poison ivy or poison oak, the better the result. Scrubbing with soap and water can be effective. Alcohol may also be used to wipe off urushiol before it causes a reaction. Best of all, of course, is to avoid it in the first place. Remember the simple guidance: “Leaves of three, let it be.”
A Solution for Poison Ivy Rash:
Another reader offered this about using Zanfel to ward off suffering from poison ivy:
Q. I read in your column about using banana peel on a poison ivy rash. There’s a product out there that beats anything I have ever tried for my severe bouts of poison ivy.
Zanfel is a mixture of soaps that has an affinity for the urushiol oil that causes the rash. One day I got a few spots on my cheek from cutting weeds and used Zanfel as directed. The itching stopped for six hours after use, and the rash was gone in about six days; normally the poison ivy rash remains for 14 to 16 days.
Zanfel to Wash Away Urushiol:
A. The maker of Zanfel maintains that it is able to break the bond that urushiol makes with skin so that the irritating oil can then be washed off. If you live where poison ivy, oak or sumac is abundant, it certainly makes sense to keep either Zanfel or Tecnu on hand. Use it promptly upon coming in from outside. Ordinary soap also works if used soon after exposure.
Tell us how you avoid suffering from poison ivy in the comment section below.