Posted by Mama To Many
(Tennessee) on 06/20/2016
For over a decade I have been experimenting with different remedies for poison ivy. I have had successes, failures, and a lot of theories. Well, I have a new theory with some interesting support for it. I am in the "early stages" of learning about it as I see it. I have not yet tested it on a severe case of poison ivy so the jury is out. But I will share my thoughts and maybe they will be helpful to you and maybe you will have some more ideas or experiences to share with me.
My son, who does lawn care, had a bad case of poison on his leg. I did my usual comfort measures, at least as much as I could given how infrequently he was home and able to actually treat his leg. He mentioned that a lady I know has kids who get poison ivy badly (I didn't know this) and she had some good remedies. So I checked with her. She has used some things I have not tried. One of them is an OTC product called Zanfel. Goodness, that stuff was $35 for a one ounce tube at the drug store. I bought it anyway because I would pay quite a pretty penny for a great poison ivy cure; all the while, hoping I can figure out the secret to its sucess and make it myself cheaper.
It didn't take my son one day to get into some more poison ivy at work. (On his arm.) It wasn't severe at all; he knows what it feels like at all stages. It was just itchy, no blisters yet. We followed the Zanfel directions, which included rubbing the product on the poison ivy for at least 3 minutes and then rinsing. So we did that. It did seem to bring relief to the itching.
So I started to research the product. It certainly gets a lot of praise. It claims to break down the urushiol, the oil that is causing the reaction. A few people seemed to have reactions to the product, at least one severe, from what I could read online. As best I can understand, the product is made up of soaps, detergents, solvents, what have you, to break down the oil. I was also reading some about the success of Fels Naptha soap for poison ivy. Another soap. I feel safer using Fels Naptha than the Zanfel and had some on hand. So next I had my son use Fels Naptha on his poison ivy, being sure to clean the area with the soap for 3 minutes.
About this time, I got to thinking about some things that Robert Henry has said. He has talked about DMSO being a solvent. Then I remembered that he had reported a cure using DMSO for poison ivy. Hmm...
So after my son washed with Fels Naptha, I put DMSO on the poison ivy. The next day he reported that the poison ivy was definitely improved, though he would have expected it to be worse. There was an area that we had missed with the DMSO that was worse than the other parts.
I kept reading. Somewhere I read that you have to wash off the poison ivy oil from your skin within 15 minutes of contact to prevent the reaction, because after that the oil will bind to the skin.
I am finally getting to my theory (you all have been patient to get this far! ) So maybe certain soaps (Fels Naptha) certain products (Zanfel) and certain chemicals (DMSO) are breaking the oil down into its components that are no longer the ururhiol that keep the reaction going. Maybe the reactions get so bad because you really have not deal with the urushiol, even when you think have.
Since I have been thinking this way about poison ivy, I have had opportunity to test it a little bit. Another son had had poison ivy on his neck for a few days and it was getting worse. (He hadn't bothered to tell me about it yet.) I had him wash the neck in the shower to the count of 100 with Fels Naptha soap. I then used DMSO on it a couple of times. This child does get poison ivy badly that can last weeks. That poison ivy is almost gone. He had a couple of small bubbles of poison ivy a couple of days ago on his toes. I had him wash a couple of times with the Fels Naptha. I meant to use the DMSO but we didn't. The bubbles are now gone on his toes.
I am pretty hopeful that this "solvent" theory is the solution to our decade plus of poison ivy. I think I have been doing a lot of symptom treating over the years without getting to the root of the problem. I will keep you posted. And let me know if you try DMSO or Fels Naptha for poison ivy. I would love to hear your ideas about this as well.
~Mama to Many~