I live in rural South Dakota where there is poison ivy all around. I had learned from a young age what poison ivy looked like in order to avoid it. I never had an encounter with the plant until my early 20s during a late-night adventure while at a bonfire. Some of us decided to run into an overgrown area near the lake we were camping at. I guess I should have stayed sober.
My First Reaction
I woke up, hung over the next morning and had a really bad itch on my feet and legs. I thought that maybe my legs were sunburned because I had spent most of the previous day outside. Soon after, I realized that I had a problem. I looked at my legs and saw that from mid-calf to the tops of my feet were tons of tiny little rashes. I knew exactly what had happened. I had come in contact with poison ivy.
My Treatment Plan
A friend that was with me at the time of my observation, told me of a remedy that he used a few years back. I immediately went to the store and bought powder washing detergent. I mixed up a scoop of the detergent with water in order to create a creamy texture, as my friend had stated, and the itch turned into a burn. He told me that was to be expected and soon the itching sensation went away. I then washed the detergent off of my skin and re-applied two hours later when the itch came back.
My itching continued and I was reluctant to get any sleep whatsoever. It seemed like by the time I was ready to fall asleep, I would have to put more detergent on my skin to get relief. By the time I finished, washed it off, and went back to sleep for a short time, I would awaken with a burning itch.
Off and on for the next few days, I would apply the “Tide” concoction every few hours to get a little bit of itch relief. When I didn’t have the time or opportunity to do that, I would just wrap my lower legs in gauze as a reminder to stop itching, as my rashes had been turned in to blisters by this point. The blisters would pop here and there and they eventually turned into small scabs. That is when I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and knew it would be coming to an end shortly.
After roughly a week, the itching had completely stopped and my legs were pretty much scabbed over. I discontinued the use of the tide and just began to put antibiotic ointment on my legs. I would also wrap them whenever going out in public, as I did not want to get some sort of infection because of my open sores.
Looking back on the incident, I can’t believe how awful that tiny plant can make a person feel. It was one of the worst experiences that I have ever had. I will never walk through any over grown area again without proper clothing and I would advise you to do the same.