I used to always laugh at the story of people going to pee in the bushes and contracting a poison ivy rash on their private parts. It was funny because I figured that if a plant was poisonous, you should easily be able to identify so why would someone choose to pee in an obvious poisonous bush. However, I learned the hard way that poison ivy is not as easy to spot as a black widow is. It looks like almost EVERY OTHER PLANT.
It was at Yosemite in the summer of 2008. My family chose to visit the national park known for its natural beauty and countless waterfalls. Summers at Yosemite are extremely hot, so I was clad in shorts and a t-shirt. On one of the hiking trails, my brother and I spotted a little waterfall ways of trail so we decided to climb through the small shrubs to reach it. Dumb idea, because one of the plants, that at the time must looked like a backyard, was the infamous three-leaved poison ivy.
On the way to the campsite we were going to sleep at, my legs started feeling extremely itchy. I figured it must have been multiple mosquito bites because I felt blisters coming on. It was dark and almost home and I had been scratching everywhere below my knee so I could get rid of the tingling, burning sensation that I was feeling.
Under the lights of the cabin that I was staying at, I found that I had little red pimple-like dots all over my legs that combined, looked like a rash developing. I immediately hopped in the tub and just ran warm water all over my legs to cool down the sensation, figuring that I could maybe just wash away the effects of the ivy. While it did provide temporary relief, when I stopped the water, the itchy sensation came back.
I tried a couple treatment methods I found online off my phone (thank god there was some cellular service where I was at) with the limited resources I had. I soaked tea bags in water and constantly dabbed it on my skin. I also tried the fruit rinds method where I placed banana peels on my leg, but this did not seem to work as well.
The next day the area was still itchy and red so I bought some aloe vera lotion at a Yosemite gift shop and applied that during the following days and it seemed to work. I started seeing a the rash lighten up and become more manageable by day five and it was completely gone by day nine. I was lucky that I didn’t have an extreme reaction to the plant to cause boils, but it was still an experience I would have rather stayed away from on vacation. Needless to say, the rest of vacation I remained only on the trails. The next year my brother, curious as always, went on to get another poison ivy rash trying to pick up a pine cone in the middle of green at the Sequoia National Park.