No, I’m not talking about the cartoon cat and mouse characters from The Simpsons. Rather, I’m talking about myself. Apparently, one of the cats rubbed up against me after being in the poison oak that seems to cover the parts of the property that the blackberries haven’t already occupied. Ugh! It’s not fun.
If you don’t know, poison oak, ivy, sumac and nettle all contain the allergen oil called urushiol. This oil causes a rash to appear anywhere from 10 minutes if you’re really sensitive to 48 hours later. And in reality, no one is immune. With every repeat exposure, you become more sensitive. The rash itself spreads when you scratch it, making it easy to start with a rash the size of a quarter that ends up being several inches in diameter as the blisters are broke open spreading the allergen across a larger patch of your skin.
I’ve been careful. I’ve been paying attention to where it is and avoiding the vine. I’ve been wearing pants and gloves any time I do any work outside or go anywhere into the brush. But, I didn’t even think about it being on one of the cats!
CP is on his way to Cozumel, Mexico for his brother’s wedding. I was supposed to be going with, but in my current state, the Mexican sun would just make me feel worse; so, no romantic fun for me this weekend.
However, I have spent some serious time researching “cures” for poison oak, poison ivy, stinging nettle and sumac. What I’ve found to work best is to hop into a cool shower, scratch open the blisters, turn shower off, pour rubbing alcohol onto the rash (rubbing alcohol is one of the few things that is strong enough to remove the oils that cause the rash and cause the rash to spread), let that dry for a few minutes and then blast the rash spots with a hair dryer set on high heat.
Now, when you get to the hair dryer part, I should warn you that at first you’ll itch like no tomorrow. Now’s not the time to scratch. Just hiss, yelp and cuss through it. Keep that hair dryer on the spots and wait a bit longer. Next, it’ll feel like someone is poking you with a thousand needles. Give it a second longer and then you can remove the hair dryer. The itching should be under control for 5+ hours now for a bit.
The heat from the hair dryer works on two levels. First, you’re drying out the blisters so they should go away faster. Also, you’re stimulating the nerves with the heat, which when they get to the point of over-stimulation, they’ll just shut down for a bit. And then there’s some relief from the infernal itching! But, I promise you, this method isn’t for the faint of heart.
After trying several methods over the past week, I can tell you that I have used parts of these methods off and on with great relief from the hair dryer. Last night, I decided to try them in combination. And breaking open the blisters and pouring the alcohol on has made a huge difference. The rash is starting to clear up, and I’m not as itchy as I was yesterday.
I’ve learned my lesson, we’re going to look into poison oak removal soon, and I’ll be keeping bottles of alcohol handy to rinse off with after working outside.