Monday, July 18, 2005

Poison oak or poison ivy

I always wished I had some American Indian blood. It's not because I don't like what I have, it's because Indians don't know what it's like to be itching for days from poison oak/poison ivy. Mrs. Zombieslayer is lucky. She can walk right through the stuff and not get it. She has just enough Indian blood to not get affected by it.

I used to go camping with my Pomo roommate and his Navajo friend. None of us had working cars back then so we'd camp illegally. We'd just go so far out that nobody would find us. To top it off, we'd go through some places that have so much poison oak that if Ranger Rick wanted to bust us, he'd regret it for weeks afterwards.

They'd take the poison oak vines and move them by hand so I could crawl through without touching them. I'd be really careful about it too. But still, a few days later, I'd end up with the itch and the itch would spread.

Some years I'd get it about five or six times that year. It no longer bothers me. No, it's not because I've magically turned Indian. It's because I learned a few tricks.

First off, to beat poison oak, you must learn to control your scratching. When you scratch, you spread the oils that cause those bumps. So don't do that. Think of anything else but your skin. I know it's hard. Well, now you have a good excuse to blog for hours. You won't be thinking of poison oak.

Don't sweat either. Sweating spreads the oils. Don't play contact sports. A good bump from someone and you'll end up spreading the oils to other parts of your body.

Every day, take cold showers. Use a pure soap like Ivory or a glycerin soap too. Hot showers spread the oils and I've found a pure soap is better. I have no idea why that is. Maybe less chemicals to react to the oils?

Change the sheets to your bed daily as well. In your sleep, you'll inevitably move around and spread the oils. Changing your sheets daily until it goes away helps a lot.

Also, you have heard about Calamine lotion. Don't use it. It won't spread the oils, but those pink splotches of Calamine lotion stand out and they will remind you that you have poison oak. You don't want to think about it. If you think about it, you will scratch.

Oh, and lastly, don't ever burn poison oak plants. It doesn't matter how much willpower you have. People have died from inhaling that smoke. If you inhale it, go to a doctor immediately and they will give you the shot.


Blogger Melanie said...

I've never heard that about Indians not getting poison ivy. My husband is half Cherokee and he's had poison ivy.

7/18/2005 12:13 PM  
Blogger tshsmom said...

I've never been afflicted and I've LAID in poison ivy. We have a friend and he gets severe reactions even when he takes a shot for it every spring. This friend accidentally burned poison ivy one time and was in the hospital for 2 weeks! It was EVERYWHERE! This friend swore by Ivy Dry. I don't know if they still make it or not.

7/18/2005 1:19 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Melanie - strange. Wonder why he gets it. These American Indian guys were literally grabbing the poison oak vines and moving them so I could get through without touching them. My wife will walk right over plants, but I'd bug her to shower first before touching me or else I'd break out.

Tshsmom - Never heard of Ivy Dry. If it works for him, then maybe it is good stuff. Calamine lotion only stopped the itching slightly, but it stood out and psychologically drew attention to the area so I scratched worse than if I didn't use it.

7/18/2005 2:08 PM  
Blogger Kunaxa said...

Is Poison Ivy the same as Poison Oak?

Never had the pleasure of either. I suppose if I get it I can just pour rubbing alcohol on it - that works for everything.

But seriously, I heard that you're supposed to use a highly alkaline substance such as Toothpaste or Maalox so it can neutralize the oil. (I think ... zombieslayer I also suffer from CRS).

7/18/2005 2:43 PM  
Blogger Slade said...

wow, pretty cool info...yeah, calomine lotion does look pretty lame!

7/18/2005 3:02 PM  
Blogger dave said...

one time when i was out in the woods picking mushrooms, i got swatted in the face by a poison oak branch. the next day, my left eye was swollen shut. then it somehow spread to my nether regions. so for two weeks, i was a blind filipino with a rash on my face and an itchy crotch. and i wonder why i'm not married...

7/18/2005 3:16 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Cultureshocked - I heard something about toothpaste too, but maybe it was from you. As for poison oak vs poison ivy, I heard they are related and it's the same kind of oils that make you itch.

Slade - Well, you're married, but if you're single and walking around with Calamine lotion, I think the hotness factor drops significantly.

Dave - you probably spread it by touching your eyes, then going pee pee. That will do it. As for the rash on the face, 4 out of 5 hot chicks surveyed think that's not pimp.

7/18/2005 3:57 PM  
Blogger Mokuyobi said...

poison ivy sucks~ read my blog!

7/18/2005 4:18 PM  
Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Wow ZS seriously re smoke? Never got poison ivy but feel very sorry for those who do suffer...and love American Indian (and others') high cheekbones!


7/18/2005 5:34 PM  
Blogger exMI said...

I'm not an American Indian. I do get Poisno Ivy but not Poison Oak or Sumac. different folks have different resistence factors I guess.

7/18/2005 7:22 PM  
Blogger geekWithA.45 said...

The "poison ivy/oak/sumac" family is a histological reaction that has an allergy component.

Like any allergy, some people have it, and some don't, although in the poison plant case, the allergy is so common that it is the norm.

Allergies can also be acquired if you are exposed to massive doses of the item in question.

I was immune to poison ivy, sumac and oak, until I was 37.

Trusting to my immunity, I overdid it by cutting down thick ivy vines without any sort of protective measures, which ended up being too much.

I ended up having to take a course of steroids to get the mess under control, and I sure do miss my poison plant immunity.

7/18/2005 8:18 PM  
Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

I got in a patch of poison ivy and I got hives up to my waist. The hives were even in between my toes - it was horrible! Good tips - thanks!

7/19/2005 7:11 AM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Good ol' Poison Oak!
Hey ZS, did you know that Calimine Lotion makes a product now that is clear, instead of pink? It goes on like a gel and if you keep it in the fridge--oooooo--it feels so good on those irritated, hot, rashy areas.
Before my husband learned his lesson, he used to throw his work clothes in with the rest of the family's clothes. (He works for the phone company and sometimes has to wade through waist-high poison oak to get to a phone poll).
I have gotten it from putting his clothes in the wash.
Have you ever used the product Tecnu?
It's awesome.
If you think you may have been exposed to the plant or the oils, you can shower with Tecnu and it strips away the oils or you can add a small amount to the wash if you're washing clothes that might have it. If you have it already, you can bath with Tecnu and it reduces the 'itch' factor.
My dad is a landscaper and he's been taking poison oak pills for like years--he doesn't get it anymore.

7/19/2005 7:35 AM  
Blogger bsoholic said...

The best cure for poison ivy/oak is to swim in a highly chlorinated swimming pool. It will be gone by the end of the day. It works for me everytime.

7/19/2005 8:51 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Bsoholic and Sadie - Those are excellent tips. I had no idea. I guess swimming in a chlorinated pool is equivalent to taking a two-hour shower and probably removes all the oils from your skin. Cool that you can buy Calimine lotion that's not pink too. Didn't know that, but then again, I haven't had a bad case of poison oak in years now.

Jen - I've had ant bites between my toes, but never poison ivy. Yuck!

Geek with a .45 - Love your name. That sucks. I've heard that too that it's an allergy that could come later in life.

Exmi - That's strange. I thought they were both the same oils. I've have to do more research then.

Bridget - I've always thought Native American dudes looked cool. Got big posters of Geronimo and Sitting Bull. People ask me if I'm part Native American and I tell them, "yes, I'm from the Wantabe tribe" (with the emphasis on the 2nd syllable).

Mokuyobi - I missed you. Did you get my email about my musician advice? I'm telling you, your songs do have potential. Would love to see you get a record contract.

7/19/2005 10:20 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Poison Oak is actually the devil.

7/19/2005 11:11 AM  
Blogger quycksilver said...

I've never had any of the poison plants, but my mom is so allergic that she couldn't get out of bed when she PIvy as a child.

Then there's my college ex who used the wrong kind of leaves while camping . . . you getting itchy yet? It was awful, and he was so embaressed that I had to call my doctor-aunt and tell her it was me who needed the steroid prescription because he was too embarassed to go to the health center. . . and no, I'm not making that up.

7/19/2005 11:20 AM  
Blogger savage said...

Holy Crap: Burn them?!?? Who the hell'd do an asinine thing like that? Besides me, I mean.
When I went camping with my buddies (married couple, they were) I got poison ... something. Of course it spread. Alot. But I know I must have gotten it while I collected, guess what?, pine needles to burn in the fire. It started on my wrist. I was told, but unable to confirm, that my friend, due to outside restroom practices *winks* got poison ivy/oak on her ass. She may have just said that to amuse me; or horrify me.
The weird thing was, it wasn't "real" camping, like you described. It was $10/day pre-arranged camp-site camping. Like having some government sponcered jerkoffs telling you where it is Ohkay for you to camp and making sure you don't start a forest fire. (Officially designated fire pits and bar-b-ques) …
But, still, who'd burn them ON PURPOSE?

7/19/2005 7:09 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Savage - the folks who die from poison oak smoke inhaliation are usually fire fighters, not knowing that there are poison oak plants among the burning trees. That's really sad, especially since I've never met a fire fighter I didn't admire as a person. Supposebly it's a really bad way to die.

Quycksilver - Yeah, I guess that would be embarassing. I've heard a few cases of people doing that though, so he wouldn't be the only person ever to do it.

Joe - Yup. Most evil plant on the planet.

Oh, and I got a partial answer to Melanie's statement about Indians not getting poison ivy. I did a little research and found that the West Coast Indians built an immunity. Why my Navajo friend was immune (he's from the desert), I have no idea.

7/19/2005 8:02 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I'm with geekwitha.45: my mom grew up in East Texas with thick, lush amounts of poison oak and poison ivy. She could roll in the stuff and be fine.

Then, for some reason, she hit her 30s and if she got a whiff of the stuff, 10 feet away, she would break out in an uncontrolable rash.

Who can fully understand the human body?

7/19/2005 8:51 PM  

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