In Which I Am the Unsuspecting Human

I have poison ivy again. This is the third time this summer, although I’m not sure if you can really count the second episode.

I deserved the first case because I knew that pulling weeds barehanded in the overgrown shrubbery patch near the creek was a risky business. Even though I would swear to you that I carefully observed every green stem before I touched it, my blistered up arms were the testimony that something went wrong with my safety plan.

Also, waterless handcleaner failed to protect me. Follow along as I explain my home-grown junk science/folklore protection strategy: I remember hearing somewhere that if you make contact with poison ivy, you should immediately pour rubbing alcohol onto the area and that would prevent an outbreak. Combine that hazy, unverified memory with the advent of waterless handcleaners, which are 62% alcohol and you can start to  lose your fear of the vine. In theory, liberal application of Purell from the handy container  that I keep near the picnic table for post-puppy petting hygiene should have saved me then, wouldn’t you think? That was my conclusion and I still think the logic is sound. I’m going to write to Heloise and share that with her.

I believe that the second outbreak was stress-induced. Can that really happen? I used to break out into hives when work deadlines loomed so is it not possible that deadline pressure could prompt a re-emergence of “the ivory”, as Sami calls it. That episode was milder and confined to my forearms.

This third time is the worst of all. On one of those sticky humid New Jersey days last week,   I took  a shower in the early afternoon and then just stayed in a nightgown (see: Working From  Home – What The Lady Execs Are Wearing). The coolness of the evening air on the deck later on was too good to give up, so it was  me and the dog and the mosquitoes watching the planes fly low and the bats come out. When I discovered a cluster of itchy red bumps on my abdomen, I naturally assumed that a mosquito got up into my nightgown and had a little picnic.

But as the bumps spread and configured themselves into the distinctive stripes and flat leathery patches that are so familiar to me, I can only come to one conclusion: it’s “the ivory” and it came come riding in on a soft and smelly canine vector of transmission.

Ask The Doctor: “The more common scenario is the transmission of urushiol from a pet to
a human. Because dogs and cats easily pick up the resin on their fur
and do not get a rash, unsuspecting humans may get a significant rash
from contact with their pets.”

Ask The Dog:  Did you do that?



12 thoughts on “In Which I Am the Unsuspecting Human

  1. Nothing short of a deep sea diving suit will protect you from the stuff. It thrives on our property, I’ve given up trying to get rid of it all, I just manage it around the house and gardens. Transmission from pets is a real threat, as is from the clothes you wear when working around it. I have found the Preparation H is good for relieving the symptoms and helping dry out the blisters. I’ve tried everything from bleach to Rhulegel, but PH is the best. I just wish it smelled better.

  2. Oh, Stedman! I’d love to steal you and hug you and love you and call you George!
    What? OH, poison ivy! So far I don’t think I’ve had a canine transmitted case of the stuff, but twice this summer I’ve been stricken. Like many other unpleasant experiences, there’s no going round it; you have to go through.

  3. Is that a dead cat I see on the deck? I love Stedman’s left front paw-it looks like he is wearing a little white sock.
    So sorry to read of your case of Poisin Ivy.
    Do cool baths help?

  4. We don’t get poison ivy in the west but we do get poison oak and the best cure for it is washing up with FelsNaptha Soap. Harsh stuff, but great for getting rid of those itchy patches and stopping the spread of the weeping juices.

  5. How can you possibly blame that sweet-faced pooch?
    I’ve read, and seen it used, that if you know you’ve brushed against vines of PI you can use the juice from Jewel Weed (just grab some and crush it between your hands) and rub it all over your skin. Several friends have done it and it works. Something in the juice will counter act the oils in the ivy.
    I used to be highly sussceptible to PI. Then when I was around 20 I fell into a patch while trying to keep from falling into a river. I was fishing, okay? I was bare chested and got such a bad case I needed to go to the doctor for antihistamine shots. Whatever happened within by body as a result, I have never gotten poison ivy again. And believe me, it’s not because I’ve avoided the stuff. Climbing into a tree stand that’s partially covered with vine and ripping the vines off the tree to deer hunt should have given me dozens of rashes over the years.

  6. I’ve never had poison ivy, and was immune to poison oak until once when working outside I scraped up my arm pretty good and it got under the skin. No more immunity for me!
    Feel better! Love the dog!

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