Camping, nature hikes, working in the yard, chances are you or someone in your family has had an unpleasant meeting with a poison ivy plant. In fact, poison ivy is the most common cause of dermatitis in the USA. Millions each year develop a rash and suffer the itching that follows after coming in contact with this plant. Some suffer severe reactions and must take prescribed immune suppressant drugs such as cortisone, with lists of side effects so long a complex that it occupies page after page of the world's most famous drug book (Martindale Pharmacopeia).
If you should find yourself too close for comfort or will be in a situation where you might be exposed Dr. Seaton offers some tips to help prevent an allergic reaction or, if you are getting this information too late some ways to lesson the suffering.
First - How to Spot Poison Ivy
It normally grows as a vine, twining around tree trunks or covering the ground, but may form upright bushes. Poison oak is in the same family as poison ivy and is usually a bush. Each stem has only three leaves that are heart shaped. Sometimes there are berry-like seeds and a red tinge on the leaves.
Poison Ivy is Basically an Autoimmune Reaction
Poison ivy emits invisible oil which actually dyes the skin a color that cannot be seen, this compound is one of the hardest substances to remove from anything. The oil is extremely irritating in the tiniest amounts, and can be transferred from person to person via the fingertips in the absence of proper hygiene. The oily resin actually combines with the skin protein keratin, and causes the skin to become foreign. The immune system then begins to reject the skin (Microbiology, 2nd ed. p. 1751). Because poison ivy is basically an autoimmune reaction, severe damage to the skin and other organs through the body that contain the protein keratin can result.
Prevention and Treatment
The only common sense treatment is to practice advanced natural hygiene using CleanZone™ soap, which can be highly effective and has no harmful side effects. It works as an anti-adjuvant; that is, it quiets down the immune response in the particular area, and enables the immune system to recognize self from nonself, and to remove the dye. There are many old wives tales about various remedies, most of which are not effective. The Encyclopedia Britannica states that soap and water is probably the only proven remedy. In this situation hygiene has to be frequent and scientific. Advanced natural hygiene, practiced with CleanZone™ products, accomplishes this.
If you may be exposed to Poison Ivy...
- Carry a tub of CleanZone™ soap with you.
- Smear a film of the soap over the legs, arms and other exposed areas if you have to walk through an area and wash it off when you return
- Just to be safe continue washing with CleanZone™ soap two or three times a day for the next several days.
If it's too late…you've already got it!
- After the oil has touched the skin, it usually takes a few hours to penetrate and combine.
- Catch it quick...wash with plenty of CleanZone™ soap and water and continue to wash frequently (two or three times a day). After a rash appears you must bath three or four times a day, sometimes for weeks in severe cases.
- Scratching with contaminated fingernails sets in motion a vicious circle that usually results in secondary infections. Clean the fingernails using CleanZone™ soap to prevent this.
- Watch out for bug bites! Scratching them only pushes the dye further into the skin.
Did you know?
Poison ivy's dye is so powerful that it can be picked up by just passing close to the plant, without touching the actual leaf!
After your first contact with poison ivy it may take seven to ten days before your immune system mounts a full reaction. The second time, the allergic reaction can occur in one or two days, and can be much worse.
In severe cases Prednisone, a cortisone drug, is prescribed. The list of side effects using corticosteroids is so long and complex that it occupies page after page of the world's most famous drug book (Martindale Pharmacopeia).
Poison ivy is often eaten by grazing animals without apparent harm.
A common way of catching poison ivy is from family pets that have been running through the plant.
The plant dye is so resilient that it can remain on clothes for over a year, despite many washings.
There are reports of people who have burned the plant, inhaled the fumes and ended up in a hospital with serious allergic reactions to the nose, throat and eyes.