Real Life Poison Ivy Stories from Our Viewers
||It was the summer of 2003. I was just a young lad camping with a couple of friends before I shipped of for basic training. The next morning, I suddenly awoke to my stomach hinting at me that it's time to take a dump. Then the nightmare began. We used the toilet paper to get the fire started the night before. I contemplated on using my only pair of socks or to use the leaves that were around my ankle... I choose the leaves. This was a very big mistake. I was fine the rest of the day since it takes poison Ivy a couple days to really kick in. The next morning, I awoke to ship off to basic training, and I found an awful surprise. My rear end was itching uncontrollably. When I got to the bathroom, and looked in the mirror, I knew I was in trouble.
The good news is that when you first get to basic, you don't have to do much physical training since you are busy going through medical screenings, and clothing issue. This lasted about a week, but my first actual day of basic was one I will never forget. The poison ivy has not only spread all over my butt, but on my crotch as well. My crotch felt like a rough leather jacket with mosquito size bumps and zit size blisters all over it.
I recently encountered poison Ivy in my back yard, and it has spread all over my arms, legs, chest, and a little on my face and eye. Just last night, I found an ichy patch on my crotch again.
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|The Bandanna Did It
||One December, when I was 16 or so I went to play racquet ball. I had on a tank top and wore a bandanna on my head. I was playing and sweating up a storm, my bandanna was wrapped around my forehead, then I let it just drop around my neck and untying it and retying it back around my head (repeat multiple times.) After a few hours I went home and showered. Following the shower I was kinda blotchy and had a light rash on my chest - I wasn't sure what it was so I just put some moisturizer on it.
The next morning I woke to the extraordinary itching of a poison ivy rash covering my chest and belly down to below my waist, both arms, some on my legs, but worst of all almost my entire face, neck, and shoulders. My left eye was closed shut and the right was in bad shape too.
I must have been wearing that bandanna when I was cutting the lawn at work last summer. Not only was I handling it and spreading it all over my body, but my sweat was probably spreading it too. I end up spending a day or two in the hospital.
I wash myself in the ocean?
| Three friends and I were
walking near the beach and two of my friends thought
it would be funny
push me over as I was taking a picture. I saw that
I was surrounded by poison ivy. I was furious, and immediately went
down to the ocean to rub water and
sand all over myself. My friends came over and apologized; they didn't
know what poison ivy looked like. I chilled out and laughed about
I got home and
with my 7 year old cousin and went to bed. The
morning I had a few tiny, itchy welts on my arm. Didn't I wash myself
in the ocean? I was confused.
My cousin woke up
a rash on his hands, neck, and face. My mom said that
been playing in a part of the yard that had poison ivy the day before
and had already spread it to his mom and sister. When I
played with him, swinging him around by his arms and
flipping him over, I had gotten the poison ivy all over myself. Sure
enough, a few days later I was broken out pretty badly. I guess
can't be careful enough.
fall a stay in the hospital...
|Back in the early 60's my girlfriend
and I would play cowboys and Indians in the woods near our house. Little
did we know that the vines we were using to tie each other to the
trees were poison ivy! I got the worse end of the deal because
I also suffered from eczema and had open sores on my arms. Well,
that poison ivy went straight into the bloodstream.
I was in
the hospital for 2 weeks because I was swollen up so badly. I
remember trying to eat with a long-handled wooden spoon - but couldn't
even get the spoon near my mouth because my arms were so swollen. You
could hear the water slosh in my elbows! From my waist to the
top of my head was one swollen mass. My face was swollen, with
just slits for the eyes.
What was the worst, no one in the
neighborhood had ever seen anything like this. I was a major
attraction for two to three weeks every fall. Bless my grandmother's
heart for not allowing any photos! I had the attacks for the
next 4 years - every fall a stay in the hospital - even though I
was no longer playing in the woods. Knock on wood - nothing
has happened to me in the last 40 years!
| At a Nascar race we camped in
a HUGE campground with approximately 75,000 people. Well,
one night after drinking a little a friend and I took a "short-cut" into
the woods. We sat
down in the woods to
watch fire-works and do some other things.
The next morning my
friend came down to my campsite complaining of
a rash all over both of his arms, his legs, and his butt. So
to the campground security office. The security officer took
at him and said "Sorry but you have poison ivy, oak, or sumac". He
loaded us up in the ambulance and took us
the "Nascar Infield Care" where all the Nascar drivers
were taken care
of when they crashed.
him some prednisone
and benedryl and told him to stay out of the woods. We also
saw Dale Earnheart Jr who was being treated for
flu — he overheard the doctors telling us this
smiled and laughed.
A whole week
was suddenly covered in a red, itchy rash all over my buttock cheeks,
down the outside of my thighs, my
lower back, my neck (don't know how it got there), and my sides.
| I have found a product that is
great stuff for poison ivy, its called Oak-Ivy CalaGel and comes with
two bottles. First you clean the poison oil off with Tecnu skin
cleaner, let it dry then put the CalaGel on, let it dry. In an
hour the itch is gone and the blisters clear up in a few days. It
truly is wonderful stuff, I don't know what I'd do without it. Its
saved me from going to the doctor. My friends will testify just
how good this stuff is. You can get it at any drug store for
about $8 dollars.
The Evil Sleeping Bag
a teenager in the '70's, I helped my
Dad clear some land in the country
for a house. We
camped out there for the weekend. Giant
4-inch diameter vines were choking
the large pecan trees. We'd pry a section
of vine away from the
trunk, and I would hold it away from
the trunk by hand while my Dad
chain-sawed out a section so the vines
The chainsaw sprayed "juice",
and when the cut was made all the way
a huge flow of clear liquid would gush
from the upper part of the vine
(perhaps a half gallon each), that
completely drenched my clothing. Just
wild grape vine sap - poison ivy
can't get THAT large, right?
that night in our sleeping bags, and
by the following afternoon, I
started feeling an itching sensation.
By Monday afternoon, I was red all
over and breaking out in blisters.
Oh, the agony. It only got worse over
next 3 days.It took three weeks
to get the rash under control, and
over a month and a
half to get totally rid of it.
I went camping again
the following winter in the same sleeping
bag: THE SAME THING HAPPENED ALL OVER
AGAIN!!! Another month of misery. So
I repeatedly washed the sleeping bag
in hot water.
I went on a spring camp-out
a couple of months later. And good
grief! It happened YET AGAIN, though
to a much lesser degree. I
threw out that sleeping bag.
Having had a spouse who would break out in a rash at the sight of poison ivy/oak, I came across a small notation in the back of a chemistry magazine on "home remedies that worked." This one was a gem and was very inexpensive.
At the first sign of irritation caused by poison ivy/oak, wash the area with soap and water if possible, but in any case, spray (never use a stick or roll-on) the area with an antiperspirant containing aluminum chlorhydrate. Arrid Extra Dry was a favorite, but any kind that is not too sticky will work. Simple deodorants won't work; it must be an antiperspirant! This material reacts with the urushiol, the principal irritant in poison ivy/oak, and deactivates it. It will even provide relief and start healing when oozing blisters are present. My sons never went camping without it.
...a machine breathing for me.
|I had just bought a
sports car and I was forced off the road by an oncoming car. My car
flipped once and landed upside down on the road. Police rushed me to
the hospital with cuts, scrapes and a bump on the head. The hospital
wanted to keep me for a few hours in case I had a concussion.
Just as they decided to release me, I began having trouble breathing
and my eye lids began to swell. My throat swelled shut - as well as
my eyes. I spent the next 7 days in the hospital covered from head
to toes in poison ivy and a machine breathing for me.
How did I get the poison ivy? When they cut my car apart to get me
out they laid me along the side of the road. Bam, I got it good. So
did the two paramedics that worked on me.
I was using a weedeater...
|I took a summer job
during college with a landscaping company. I had never had poison
ivy in my life, had no idea how to identify it or what it could do
to you. One day I was using a weedeater around a fence and ran it
right through a very large patch of P. I. Did I mention that I was
wearing shorts? I sprayed the stuff all over my legs, and continued
The next day the rash started coming up and eventually everything
between the knees and ankles was a giant, blistering, weeping mass.
It took me three months of every treatment in the book to finally
get rid of it, and I'll have the scars for the rest of my life
A collapsed lung
| I was pulling weeds
around our house and throwing them on our burn pile. I did not realize
that there was poison ivy in the weeds, and I was directly in the
line of the smoke.
A couple of days later I noticed I had the rash in my mouth, and a
week later, was admitted to the hospital with a collapsed lung, compliments
of the poison ivy that I had burned, and inhaled.
Eventually, they had to remover the top portion of the affected lung,
as the condition would not go away, and my lung continued to collapse.
Yup. Poison ivy roots down there...
| I've been an ivy victim
on and off most of my life, so I am pretty aware of my surroundings.
This spring I dug a post hole down by the lake - no poison ivy in
site. It was kinda warm, so I took off my shirt, but kept the tee
shirt on.. When I got the hole mostly dug out, I got down on the ground
and reached my arms in to clean out the hole. Yup, poison ivy roots
down there. Attached is a photo in its early development. It got worse...
(Photo is at right, and is the honorary anchor image in the Grody
Skin Rash Slide Show)
Everyone wanted to know WHY I sat half-way off
|I spotted some luscious
looking wild raspberries growing just off the road. Into the patch
I went. I ate all the berries I could find. Within half an hour, I
was violently sick. I threw up all that I had eaten and spent the
night on the bathroom floor.
We guessed that the brushes had been recently been sprayed with weed killer
by the highway department. I recovered. But, the next day, I developed
a wicked case of poison ivy on my buttocks. When I had bent over to
pick berries from the lower branches, Poison Ivy leaves had entered
under the edge of my short shorts. I took a lot of teasing when I went
to work: I worked as a receptionist at a desk. Everyone wanted to
know WHY I sat half-way off my chair.
The leaves on the bush looked really pretty and
| At a lake in my neighborhood
the turtles were sitting on top of the water sunbathing. I thought
that it would be really neat if I could throw some leaves in the water
to feed them.
I was sitting right next to a tree with a big bush around the bottom
of it. The leaves on the bush looked really pretty and green so I
decided to pick the leaves and feed them to the turtles. The turtles
didn't want them so I went home.
The next day my left arm started itching like crazy with some kind
of long welt thing on it and getting worse by the minute. Well now
it is two weeks and the poison ivy is pretty much all over me and
driving me crazy.
She slowly peeled the sheet off of us inch by
The absolute worst case I've ever had, or ever
even heard of, occurred when I was a child of about ten. My family
was renting a cottage near the Bay of Quinte on Lake Ontario. About
the fourth day in my younger brother and I had developed a rash
all over us. The local doctor informed my mother that the region
was experiencing an outbreak of skin lice commonly called 'scabies'.
He told her not to worry; her sons did not have measles or chicken
pox or anything of the sort, just scabies.
A few days of hot showers and good scrubbings
followed by a generous rubbing of a certain lice-killing cream all
over our bodies should have cured us. It didn't. A few sticky, oozing,
itchy and downright painful days passed, and we had become covered
from head to toe and everyplace in between.
I still recall wake-up time. The two of us
calling to Mom to help us get out of bed so we could go pee. She
would wipe our eyes with a wet cloth because they had sealed shut
during the night. We would grimace and bite our tongues so as to
be big boys and not cry out as she slowly peeled the sheet off of
us inch by painful inch. With the sheet would go the top layer of
hardened ooze from the night before.
He finally figured out it was poison ivy
To celebrate the Fourth of July this year,
my boyfriend and I decided to take the our dogs hiking. We had a
great time and walked our dogs down to a beautiful lake where they
frolicked in the water and played in some bushes. Exactly a week
later I noticed a small red bump on my leg that itched really badly.
The next day it was growing rapidly and turning purple and blistering!
So I went to the ER and they cultured it and gave me some bactroban
ointment, and said they'd have the culture results in a week.
By the next evening the ointment just seemed
to be angering the now huge, weepy blistering rash and it had spread
all over my left ankle and jumped to my right leg also. So back
to the ER I went and this time they thought I had folliculitis (whatever
the heck that is!). This time they put me on Keflex orally.
By the next day I had muscle spasms in my left
leg and random numbness. I decide to go to the follow-up physician
they referred me to at the ER and he finally figured out it was
poison ivy! Apparently I am very, very allergic to it and I had
a weird delayed reaction. With steroids and anti-itch medicine and
three doctors later I'm finally feeling better and my leg doesn't
look like it's about to fall off.
No more landscaping for me
In the summer after I graduated high school
I took a job as a landscaper. I knew that this was risky because
I am so highly allergic to poison ivy. But after four weeks there
had been nothing. Then one day we were weeding out underneath a
billboard at a local gas station. There were weeds as tall as me,
trees, vines, bushes, everything. I didn't know what i was grabbing
or stepping in.
That night as I was hanging out with my friends,
I started to feel an itch on my ankle. I thought, "Oh boy!"
Sure enough, as I got up the next morning - for my college orientation
- I had a fairly bad case of poison ivy all over my legs. As I went
off to my orientation, I wasn't feeling too much discomfort. But
by lunch time my legs had become so swollen and crusted that I had
a very difficult time even walking. Only two hours of sleep followed
that night. Now, I sit here in my room, 3:00 in the morning on the
fifth day of my ordeal. No more landscaping for me.
A cord of wood for cheap money
I responded to a local ad to buy a cord of
wood for cheap money in the dead of a New England winter. One catch
was I have to transport it, which was no problem. There was a hidden
catch though. While gathering the wood I noticed a number of dead
looking vines. I didn't think anything of it. I had gloves on and
made a conscious effort not to touch any exposed skin. I didn't
know what the vines were but I am naturally paranoid of the evil
After the first truck load I asked the gentlemen
helping me load the wood what the vine was and he said poison ivy.
I then started to get even more nervous with that confirmation.
He said I wouldn't catch it. I didn't believe him, of course. After
the second load I went home and threw my gloves out and washed my
hands with a lot of soap and water, then rubbing alcohol. I went
back for the final load and threw those gloves away as well after.
3 - 4 days later the rash was on my arms and wrists - not the worst
case but still there.
...or else you're gonna end up just like me
One day I was pruning some small trees and I wasn't
even aware that there was poison ivy around.The next morning I noticed
a sort of rashy bumpy area about the size of a dime on my right
ring finger. My mom, an RN, diagnosed it as a bite of some sort.
Oh, but it was worse than that. Every day after that it spread all
over my hand. My hand sort of went numb all over and my fingers
were swollen and hard to move. The itch is not the only thing that
is bad - it's also nights without a wink of sleep. Eventually the
2.5 inch high blisters subsided and the itch as well, but I was
left with a scar to remind me of the dreaded poison ivy.
But a month went by and it was time for another trip
up to the hunting camp. We decided to move a tree stand that had
been blown over in a recent twister. I knew that poison ivy was
out there, but I didn't know where. No one ever saw the vine running
along the tree like fire on a stick. While my dad and uncle held
a ladder I climbed up it to the top to lock a chain in place. I
got to the top and was securing the chain down from one side of
the stand to the other when my dad said "Watch out! I think
that vine is poison ivy".
Now I'm sitting at home with cream all over both
arms and my face including my lips and ears and eye lids. With bandages
on my arms and hands I can barely type. But I want to get the message
out to all the 'out-doorsy' types to take the time to look around
at where you're going to be working or hunting. Trust me, a few
minutes of time is definitely worth it, or else you're gonna end
up just like me.
Thanks to my hard work...
Growing up in the wilds of Tennessee, I've
spent the majority of my life in the woods. In almost 40 years I've
never had the slightest reaction from poison ivy, oak or sumac.
Recently I moved to the great midwestern state
of Indiana. We're in an older home with a yard that was more than
a little overgrown with honeysuckle, weeds and various unwelcome
plants. A week ago last Sunday, I attempted to bring some order
to the chaos and dove into the yard with both hands. Concerned about
the elements, I coated myself in sunscreen, bug spray, gloves and
a hat. I also wore a tank top and shorts.
Seven days later, I am one large open wound
from my wrists to my elbows and ankles to knees. Turns out underneath
that honeysuckle and wild grapevine was lurking the nasty PI! Because
it was mixed in with other vines, it didn't look very threatening.
This week I went outside and assessed the yard
again. Thanks to my hard work clearing away the competing plants,
the poison ivy is big, strong, green and shiny. Glad I could help!
It hurt like crazy and helped a little
My brother & I always got it bad when we
were kids - eyes swollen shut, 75% of our bodies in a blistered
rash. We tried every remedy we would hear of - jewelweed, calamine,
oatmeal, rubbing alcohol, clay, benedryl, 1/2 pound of salt, you
name it, we tried it.
Sitting in the ocean surf scrubbing our arms
& legs raw with sand so the salt water could get in there to
do some healing was a favorite. It hurt like crazy & helped
a little, but mostly I think a day in the ocean just helped us keep
Today there are 2 over the counter 'remedies'
that actually help me a lot. 1) Tecnu. Use it ASAP if you even THINK
you've contacted poison ivy. Helps prevent the rash. 2) Zanfel (www.zanfel.com).
Expensive, but this is what they use in the emergency rooms nowadays,
& it made a HUGE difference for me; it actually helped the rash
stop itching immediately, and cleared up in half the time!
Charles, did you wash your hands?
All my friends and I were playing hide and
seek in the pines and tussled a little too close to the poison ivy
- it came home with me as an adopted friend on my hands and clothes.
Dinner was called and as we all sat down to
eat my asked, "Charles, did you wash your hands before you
sat down?" As any kid you would answer "..... err well,
I guess," thinking to myself I will wash after I eat, no harm
done. Grab this, grab that, pass this
and that.... touch touch touch. You guessed it, we all got the ivy
plague. Mom and Dad couldn't figure out how or what caused it.
Mom then remembered the new area that all of
us were playing in and especially me and my forgetfulness on hand
washing. I think what cured my lapse of hand washing in my early
years wasn't the itchy ooziness of the ivy, nope - we were all marked
with the curse of pink dots from head to toe of calamine lotion.
I thought that was what we all were going to look like for the rest
of our lives, I didn't realize it was only temporary, geeesh I was
No one managed to pack any toilet paper
A group of friends and I packed up our gear and headed out to the
woods. No one managed to pack any toilet paper, but it didnt
seem to be a problem. When nature called I decided to relieve myself
in the woods. Without thinking I grabbed some nearby leaves and
wiped myself. I didnt have a care in the world.
About two days later I noticed a deep and irritating itch from
inside of my rectum and surrounding areas. I tried to relieve myself
with simple scratching, but found no salvation! It wasnt long
after that I concluded the developing rash to be poison ivy, and
I had unknowingly spread it all over my body.
My entire rear end, genitals, legs, chest, arms and neck were soon
engulfed in a crusty rash sometimes reaching over 2 inches
in thickness! I spend the next 2 weeks lying around in a painful
state of unrelenting itch.
We were fishing and catching some nice catfish, perches.
My brother-in-law went off in another direction. He came back with
lots of fish and said: "Follow me!". So off we went and as
the weeds grew higher I pulled way weeds, shrubs and green leaves
as I opened up a path - as I pushed through the leaves cut my skin.
Once in the water I cooled off and washed my face...it felt great!
Next day, I started feeling fever... my face was
burning and swelling... ooze starting forming in the blisters until
my right eye was shut. I wasn't aware I had caught poison ivy until
I went into the ER. I had 2 shots and they helped bring down the
inflammation on my face so I was able to see.
Of many anti-biotic creams, the one that has helped
was "BENADRYL" along with bath treatments with AVEENO. And Natural
Analgesic w/Emu Oil works wonders provides soothing relief to inflamed
sores, blisters. I'm still healing from the poison ivy blisters. I'm
in my 2nd week.
prednisone also made me break out in a rash
A few years ago I got a HORRIBLE case of poison ivy.
So bad I went to the doctor for help. He gave me prednisone, a steroid,
and my life has never been the same. I am now lactose intolerant,
have a weight problem that is difficult at best and never ending
at worst. I developed stomach ulcers, and have had a terrible time
healthwise all the way around. I know it is because of the steroids.
And though I did go to the doctor on my own I wish I had been better
informed of the side effects. The prednisone also made me break
out in a rash everywhere the poison ivy had missed. I was miserable
for nearly two months, and have a strong phobia of anything that
is green and leafy even resembling poison ivy.
The only thing in here is Ben Gay
Our son Nelson when a boy of 11 had gotten in contact
with poison ivy while creating a fort in the woods. He developed
the noxious symptoms soon after. I was working an evening shift
at the time and the boys were left in the care of dad. Nelson couldn't
stop scratching and was seeking relief. He had also developed the
rash in some very unmentionable and sensitive areas besides. He
whined to his father, "Dad what can you do to help me?- isn't
there anything that can take away the itch?'"
Dad went to the medicine cabinet and looked in. "The
only thing that is in here is Ben Gay. I don't know if it will help
but we can try it." Nelson cried back, "Anything has got
to be better than this." and promptly started slathering the
stuff around his private parts. An excruciating howl broke the silence
as the boy danced about in uncontrolled agony. "Quick! quick!
get in the shower dad said.
That was a lesson learned the hard way. Nelson is
now a grown man, recently married, and in his own house. As I wandered
around the yard looking at the plantings I was quick to warn him
of the poison ivy starting to appear in diverse places. His face
went white with dread as he relived in his mind that horrific childhood
experience while left in dad's care.
2" tall blisters
|The night before our wedding
my fiance was rushed to the ER to get a high dosage shot. He was so
swollen with 2" tall blisters all over that we were never going
to get a ring on his finger, but he would not let it delay our wedding.
Trying to be mister macho
I was recently married and decided to take a summer
job at my father-in-law's apple orchard. My task was to strip the
apple trees of Virginia Creeper because the vines, although harmless
to the touch, are deadly to the apple tree. (They wrap around it
and bloom which robs the tree of light.) "Cool," I said,
thinking that it would be fun ripping out all of those vines and
helping the trees. My father-in-law even warned me to keep my gloves
on since he "suspected" that there was poison ivy near-by.
Trying to be mister macho man and knowing that I was relatively
immune to the weed, I proceeded to rip out vines for exactly five
days. On the seventh day I was in the ER with my eyes swollen shut
and deep seeping wounds all over my body. The doctor said it was
the worse case he had ever seen, and the nurses thought I had been
burned in a fire.
A tree that's not a tree:
a nice looking tree, I thought to myself. I think I'll tie a hammock
on it. Turns out to be a dead tree with very live poison ivy on
Here in Texas the stuff grows year round. The vine
is 2" thick at the base.
(Photo supplied by a viewer from Texas)
A Crown of... Thorns?
My husband was to appear as Jesus during our church's
Maundy Thursday service this year (March 2002). He asked me to try
and find something to make a crown of thorns. I thought I could
just go into the forest near our home and find a wild grape vine.
I found a likely looking vine and put it into our
hatchback car with our nine year old son in the back seat. It was
literally draped around him. In the mean time, my husband had made
his own crown out of honeysuckle and used that during the service,
so he didn't really look at the vine I had found.
When our son showed signs on Friday afternoon of
a poison ivy rash, my husband took a closer look at the vine I had
found and told me that it was poison ivy not wild grape. My son's
face, neck and arms were covered in one of the worst rashes I had
seen in a long time.
Washing made it spread.
My father spent a day tearing out poison ivy vines
around our house. At the end of the day he took a shower and scrubbed
himself with brown soap.
Instead of getting rid of the poison he spread it all over himself
and was sick in bed for a week with a horrible case of poison ivy.
The moral is be careful with the stuff, and be aware that you can
spread the oil by washing with soap and warm water. The warm water opens the pores, the soap emulsifies the oil, and the scrubbing pushes to oil into the open pores.
(After the oil has been absorbed or washed off, and you HAVE a rash, a hot shower can ease the itching. Many recommend heat for relief from the itch.)
Poison Ivy Foster Kids
I was working for a foster home - the building our
children were housed in was to be sold and we had to move all of
our boys. We found one of these huge big old houses with a really
big over flowing backyard.
The week we moved in was tremendous hard work for
staff and kids alike - the goal was to finish everything by Friday
so that we could have a Big Staff and Families Picnic on Saturday.
The kids spent the evening clearing the back yard and then played
a well earned football game that Friday night.
They all woke up the next morning with poison ivy
in every possible place. This was the most miserable bunch of kids
I have ever seen. Instead of picnicking we all spent the day at
the walk in clinic... ...and just about the time that the boys were
all healed up the staff thought they had figured out how to rid
the backyard of the plants - so the following week we all walked
around with it ourselves.
This was 5 years ago and the kids still talk about
it. In a very strange way it was a real bonding point for the boys
and the staff - we describe people as being or not being part of
the poison ivy group.
The smoke did it.
My mother told me that her mother was outside doing
gardening once and her father found poison ivy in a good quantity
and decided to burn it. As he did so, the smoke traveled towards
my grandmother as she was sitting in a chair and the smoke went
onto her legs and she got poison ivy there on the insides of her
legs pretty badly.
Even the smoke from burning poison ivy can be harmful.
A friend and I were on a wilderness trip and we were
caught outside after dark. We got off the trail and spent some time
blundering around in the brush. Two days later, we discovered that
we had stumbled through what must have been a very lush patch of
poison ivy. Did I mention that we were wearing nothing but t-shirts,
running shorts, and sneakers without socks?
I didn't know it was possible to have that much of
my body covered with the rash. My wife wouldn't let me touch her
for a week and half.
$200 and no tennis
I was helping with garden work and I hadn't heard
anything about poison ivy. A couple of weeks later I learned what
it means by paying more than $200 for medicine.
And I couldn't play tennis because I didn't want
my ugly legs and and arms to be seen by others. And I had been the
last two semesters' tennis champion in my school.
Three years ago we bought a wonderful old Pittsburgh
house. It was built by Mellon (the Pittsburgh billionaire) for his
butler, in 1908. It is on a wonderful city block full of playful
children. In front of our house are several aggressive bushes with
leaves which are actually quite flimsy and charmless; they actually
seem more like weeds to me. Every summer I have cut back these bushes
and by the end of the summer they are once again omnipresent.
I also do tons of other gardening and regularly remove
some tiny patch of typical looking poison ivy at the rear of our
yard. Every year, no matter how careful I am I contract horrendous
poison ivy dermatitis! And this year was no different! I have the
poison ivy for many weeks!
This year I read your site and several others and
I discovered that it was not the patch of poison ivy in the rear
which gives me the outbreak. It is the "mysterious bushes"
right at front of my lawn, ever so faithfully landscaped by me,
overlapping often onto the sidewalk, all summer long!
(Editor's note: cutting the leaves and vines releases
lots of the oil from inside. So cutting the plant is hazardous.
But it does helps to know that it IS poison ivy.)
Don't ever think...
All of my childhood years I had never had a reaction
to poison ivy. My mother never did either. I remember times when
both my mother and I would yank it out of the ground without a second
thought. I am 30 years old now and had my first reaction when I
was about 25. I've had a few mild reactions since the first but
I also have a new respect for the plant! I don't want to see how
severe the next bout could be. The lesson here: Don't ever think
that you are immune to the poison ivy plant. And in case you are
wondering, yes, my 65 year-old mother had to go get a shot just
last summer when she had her first reaction, (a severe one), not
even knowing where she came in contact with it at!
A boy and girl...
A young man and his lady friend went for a walk in
the woods. At one point they decided to get some exercise in a more
The result of this was that they both got severe
poison ivy, but young lady had to spend a goodly amount of time
in the hospital as she was more in contact with the ivy.
Gee, thanks for back rub!
My 'ex' was an avid bow-hunter. After spending the
day in a tree stand, hoping for a deer to wander by, he came home,
and to make up for leaving me home alone all day, gave me a wonderful
back rub. The only problem: the tree he'd chosen for his stand was
covered with poison ivy. Apparently he wasn't sensitive, but I sure
was! The rash covered my entire back!
Mosquitos in cahoots with Poison Ivy
One morning I quick threw on some loose legged shorts,
sans underwear, and went out to pull some weeds. Unknown to me,
I was receiving multiple mosquito bites in anatomical locations
I came across some very tiny young sprigs of poison
ivy, almost too small and innocent looking to seem like much of
a threat. Every time I tried to grab the tiny poison ivy sprigs
to pull them out with my gloved fingers the stems just slipped right
through my bulky gloves. I rationalized that I was nearly finished
with my weed pulling and therefore I could risk taking off my gloves
and grasping these tiny stems of poison ivy with my bare fingers
as long as I quickly washed my hands afterward. Well, those little
sprigs were still too slick to get a grip on, but I could solve
that by digging my fingernails into the stems and then yanking.
I absolutely knew I had Poison Ivy sap under my fingernails, but
I was almost done and would go in and wash.
Absentmindedly, I must have reached down to scratch
a strategically located mosquito bite ... resulting in the worst
case of Poison Ivy rash in the worst imaginable unmentionable anatomical
...more miserable than any other time of my life.
When I was in college I took a class in "Camping".
My friend and I were late getting to our campsite on one of our
scheduled trips and had to pitch our tents in darkness. His tent
had a floor but mine did not. We both set up our tents in a poison
ivy thicket but the consequences were much worse for me. I was covered
with the blisters on every square inch of my body. My eyes swelled
shut and I was running a temperature when my dorm mates carried
me to the campus nurse. She bathed me in alcohol and then Caladryl.
I was more miserable in the next two weeks than any
other time of my life. I can personally state as well, that there
are certain portions of the male anatomy which do not appreciate
the application of rubbing alcohol. What a lesson I learned in "Camping"!
When I was a child, I had such severe reactions to
poison ivy that I got a series of allergy shots every year. They
never worked; I always got poison ivy!
The worst case ever was the year we took a family
camping trip and used poison ivy sticks to roast our marshmallows
on a poison-ivy wood fire. You see, the poison ivy was growing so
large and healthy at this campground that in the dark, my father
mistook it for tree limbs and cut some for kindling to start the
fire and some for marshmallow sticks! ouch! I was absolutely miserable,
with poison ivy all over my face and body, and enough of a reaction
that I ran a fever and had to be confined to bed for a while.
I wore the same overalls that winter...
Like many summers before, the wild raspberry fields
drew me away from white washing the fence. So I'd scamper off to
the fields in my painting overalls and discretely sneak back to
work. I paid dearly for my surrendering to temptation though, as
I contracted the rash and blisters caused by poison ivy.
What was all the more insulting, was catching poison
ivy in the middle of winter that year, because I had worn the same
painting overalls to paint my bedroom walls! The oil that comes
from the leaves can stay on objects such as clothing for many years!
Take heed of the weed of bad deed!!!!
Don't Weed Eat with Shorts
I was outside weeding around my yard recently and
now I look like a monster again and itch like nobody's business.
It hadn't dawned on me about wearing shorts to use a weedeater -
it has now. And I took a good bath and made it spread. Like my grandmother
use to say, a hard head makes a soft behind. Signed, Miserable in
What a way to welcome my baby girl to the world!!
On our annual camping trip to the Ochlochnee River
it seems that I came in contact with poison ivy while "squatting"
in the brush. I was 9 months pregnant at the time and mistakenly
thought the rash was somehow "pregnancy related". Two
weeks later during childbirth I begged not for pain relievers but
for "itch relievers". I was on fire as it had spread from
my knees on up the inside of my thighs! The dermatologist said it
was the first time he had ever treated such a thing during childbirth.
What a way to welcome my baby girl to the world!!
"Ja, I've been tryin to figure that out..."
My mother is an avid gardener and has transformed
her yard from a scrubby expanse of red Georgia clay to a wonderland
of lilies, herbs, and lots of yard whimsy. However, she's highly
sensitive to poison ivy. Every two years or so, her entire face
swells so severely that her eyes are reduced to slits. She has it
right now ... and I said to her ... "Mom, you really need to
figure out what poison ivy looks like." And she responds (with
her German accent) ... "Ja, I've been tryin' to figure that
out for de past ten years."