We went blackberry picking on a friend’s farm. It was a lot of fun, and I have to admit that I’d have brought home more berries if I hadn’t been eating them as well as picking. Even though I followed instructions and wore long sleeves and long pants, I still ended up with a patch of poison ivy on my leg. Mom gave me an over-the-counter remedy containing camphor. I’m allergic to camphor and that’s how we found out.
What is poison ivy? It is one of three plants that can cause serious rashes in those who are sensitive. The other two are called poison oak and poison sumac. The oils from the plant can stay on clothing and equipment that has come in contact with it and cause a rash when handled.
“Leaves of three” Leaves of three, let it be is great advice…with a problem. Blackberries can also have leaves of three and you are likely to run into poison ivy where these berries grow.
Over-the-counter remedies: The product I used was Ivy Dry, and it is a perfectly good poison ivy remedy…unless you are allergic to it. I can tell you that having an allergic rash on top of a poison ivy rash is not pleasant. Test on a small patch of skin before dousing the entire rash with it.
Hydrocortisone cream is another excellent choice for many people. It can relieve the itching and is available in many forms. Caladryl may help, but again it contains camphor. Follow the same precautions as for Ivy Dry.
Home Remedies: The thing that helped my poison ivy after we stopped using the Ivy Dry was the juice from a green walnut hull. Slice the hull and rub the juice on the rash. Be aware that this will stain your skin, clothes and anything else it touches a nice brown.
Baking Soda: A paste of baking soda allowed to dry on the skin can offer relief. I’ve actually used this to treat it in others. Don’t brush the powder off when it dries so the relief can last for a longer period of time. It can also be used in a bath.
Oats: An oat bath or oat poultice is good for all kinds of skin problems from chicken pox to poison ivy. Put whole oats in a cheesecloth bag for the bath, or bind it on with strips of cotton fabric. Be careful not to bind to tightly.
The doctor: There may come a time when the doctor needs to be consulted. If the itch/pain is severe or if it lasts longer than seven days without showing signs of improvement you may need stronger medication. There are higher doses of hydrocortisone that can be prescribed and oral steroids might be needed.