STILL suffering from poison ivy, almost 6 weeks on

The above video gives you an idea of just how infested the wild area at the back of my yard is with poison ivy. Or was. It was shot on May 3, 2014. I have used herbicide on it a couple of times since then, and last year it didn’t look quite this bad. But it’s still there.

(By the way, using herbicide is against my principles. But I have compromised them in the face of this threat.)

On Saturday, March 12 of this year, my wife and I did extensive work clearing brush, fallen limbs and vines out of this area. We did not see a single poison ivy leaf during this operation. But we did pull up a few things by the roots, and the plants must have the poisonous oil on them even when there are no leaves.

My wife’s arms broke out the next day. I thought maybe I had escaped, but by Tuesday my forearms were practically covered with the rash. After several days trying unsuccessfully to fight it with conventional, over-the-counter weapons, I went nuclear — I called my allergist to get a prescription of prednisone.

He prescribed a someone more prolonged course than if we were treating, say, asthma. And I got better. But as soon as the prednisone ran out, I started breaking out again — this time, weirdly, on my legs. (My wife, without using prednisone, was pretty much all better by this time.)

So after a few days of that, I went to see my allergist and got another course of prednisone, this time even more spread out, over 13 days — starting with three days at 60 mg.

After that, I felt a lot better, for a week or so. Then this week, the maddening itch on my legs was back — not so much with a rash, but with dark discoloration under the skin in the affected area.

The only thing I can figure is that last weekend, for the first time in a couple of weeks, I wore my favorite weekend pants, the same pair of khaki cargo pants I had been wearing the day I was exposed.

I’ve washed these pants in HOT water (I usually set the washer on “cool”) a couple of times since the incident. Can the oils really survive that? Apparently so.

Anyone have any advice? I’m sick of this…

24 thoughts on “STILL suffering from poison ivy, almost 6 weeks on

  1. Bryan Caskey

    Measles make you bumpy
    And mumps’ll make you lumpy
    And chicken pox’ll make you jump and twitch

    A common cold’ll fool ya
    And whooping cough can cool ya
    But poison ivy, Lord’ll make you itch!

    Poison Ivy

    1. Scout

      Dear God, do not burn it! The oils get airborne and irritates your lung tissue. It’s really really bad. Like possibly life threatening in some people. Do not burn it!

  2. Poison Ivey

    Gardeners are cautioned about putting poison ivy plants in their compost piles because even after decomposition, the oils remain potent–possibly for years. If you suspect the pants, I would dispose of them.

  3. Karen Pearson

    If the pants you are speaking of won’t take soaking in a clorox solution, have you tried vinegar. I’m thinking of things that tend to cut through and lift off oils. Or you might decide that those pants have served you a long time and deserve honorable discharge (say something nice about them as you put them in the trash).

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      They’re my best weekend pants.

      Also, at the moment, they’re the only ones I can fasten without significant discomfort,

      I currently weigh more than 180 pounds. I should weigh more like 160…

      1. Juan Caruso


        If you, your wife or your grands, etc. bring in any furry pets (dogs or cats) who may have roamed outside this time of year before entering your home, guess what happens if and when they rub against your leg or you pat their fur? The weak acid (urushiol) found in plants called “poison ___X__” is more of a menace to older folks whose outer layer of skin has thinned (a normal change). Thicker-skinned souls have a fattier layer of skin and may say they are “immune” when they really have greater protection.

        While urushiol is considered an allergen, it is actually an acidic irritant. One may develop a greater chemical “immunity” after a severe outbreak such as yours.

        While still suffering its unpleasant effects, however, my immunity was even lower than normal — no direct contact was required for re-irritation. Some people insist that the smoke from burning poison ivy has effected them (indirect contact). Recognition of the plant is extremely important as sprigs pop up profusely in shade, and to a lesser extent in front yards. How the seeds are spread to a manicured front yard I have yet to discover.

        Good luck and feel better soon!

        1. Norm Ivey

          How the seeds are spread to a manicured front yard I have yet to discover.

          It was probably there first, and the root system has sent up new shoots.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    Question: Are any of y’all immune to poison ivy? I ask, because supposedly a fourth of the population is.

    Come on: ‘fess up. So we can, you know, hate you…

    1. Bryan Caskey

      I’m not 100% sure, but I can say that I’ve never actually gotten poison ivy. And I made it all the way to Eagle Scout running around in the woods all during my youth. So take that for whatever it’s worth.

    2. Scout

      I spent a great deal of childhood in the woods playing. I didn’t get it until I was in my 20s. I think you get more susceptible as you age, possibly. I think each exposure (whether you actually break out or not) makes you more likely to get it at a later time – like wearing away a little of your defenses each time. I know I had to have been exposed multiple times when I was a kid.

      Leaves of three, leave them be.
      Hairy rope, don’t be a dope.

      Also the berries are white. I’ve seen them on plants with no leaves.

      And Birds eat those Berries! Wierd.

      Random poison ivy trivia – do you know why you never see cashews sold in the shells? Cos the shells have the same oil in them. Also Mango skin has a little bit of it.

      So sorry about your pants.

    3. Norm Ivey

      Never had it, but I grew up in the desert. I’m not sure I ever saw it growing anywhere out there. I now spend a lot of time in the woods, and I have seen it in many places. I just leave it be.

      I think I mentioned this once before. Get yourself a pet goat or two if your HOA allows it. They love the stuff, and it has no impact on them. They’ll keep it cropped short enough that you won’t have to clear it out every year.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I think the goat approach would be awesome, but I don’t think that’s in the cards in my neighborhood. Which is a little weird, because we’re in the county and we do have wildlife. A couple of weeks ago, my wife was working in her garden with our grandson, and she looked up and saw several deer standing in the wooded boundary between our yard and our neighbor’s.

        Then they turned and bounded off through the backyards of our block down toward the river.

        If that’s how they came up, they probably didn’t know they were in a human subdivision. It’s hard to describe, but if you look straight out our back door (our house is on a corner and situated diagonally so that the front door faces the corner rather than one or the other street), you just see woods, because your line of sight has no other houses in it, on down toward the river. Few of my neighbors have fences, so the effect is that you’re looking into wilderness. If a deer didn’t look left and right much, it could think it was deep in the forest…

  5. Matt Bohn

    Bleach it. It burns but works. I’ve used this method for 30 years and never had any ill effects aside from the burning sensation.

  6. Karla

    I got a pretty bad case from horse slobber. The horse I was riding ate poison ivy, then slobbered on my forearm. The lady at the key market turned me on to jewel weed,aka touch me not. The leaves and stems contain sap that dries up the rash. They both grow in low moist areas. So where poison ivy is, it’s cure may also be!


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