Poison Ivy


I begin with a story.

I am pregnant, and I have poison ivy. Not just any poison ivy, mind you. This is the poison ivy case that came from nowhere–I haven’t been out & about in nature for weeks–and exploded into the worst case of the red bumpy itches I have ever had, including my sophomore year in high school. It is everywhere, but concentrated in a long line around my right eye and cheekbone. I look like I have a shiner. I look something like this woman.

Every day some new spot pops up in an area somewhere else on my body. And it is miserable.

The doctors insist that oozing poison ivy pustules do not spread the infection further, that I have clearly missed washing some item of clothing–the couch, the bed, something. I know better. I am washing every item of clothing every day, and changing the bed every morning, the bathroom towels–everything. And yet they still keep coming.

I am home with an 18-month-old little boy named Alex one fine (miserable) afternoon, sitting on the couch in all my pregnant glory while Alex plays with the phone. After a while I decide that’s dangerous, and I take the phone and stick it behind me on the couch so he can’t get at it.

Not long after, the doorbell rings. I open the door to find a sheriff’s deputy on my porch. “Uh…hi,” I say, racking my brain to come up with some rational explanation for the presence of law enforcement on my doorstep.

“Miss, is everything okay?”

“Uh…yes…” (Sounding confused.)

“Are you sure?”

“Y…yes…” (REALLY confused.)

“Well, miss, we just got a 9-1-1 call from this address.”

My jaw drops, and then I realize….that little stinker–the phone! I run to grab the handset, and sure enough, the first three numbers in a long string of twenty are…9-1-1. I come running back. “My toddler was playing with the phone, I’m so sorry…look.” And I show it to him.

“Ma’am, are you SURE you’re all right?”

By now I’m beginning to feel a bit frantic. “I’m fine!”

“Then why is your face all beat up?” he asks.

poison ivy in summer

From the wisdom of this experience, I have a few poison ivy tips to offer:

1. Don’t let your kids play with the phone.

2. Poison ivy has the potential to “go systemic.” In other words, a really, really bad case can get into the bloodstream. If this happens, new spots of poisony ivy will continue to pop up in random places on your body for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, the longer it goes, the less severe the spots are.

3. Product Recommendation #1: Tecnu is an oily wash that you rub on exposed skin right after coming out of the woods. It adheres to the poison ivy oil and gets it off the skin. No use once the outbreak has begun.

4. Product Recommendation #2: Zanfel. I give you the brand name so you can find it, but most places also have a generic brand. Zanfel is very expensive; the generic is still steep, but absolutely worthwhile! Here’s why: it is made for use after the itchies begin. Zanfel is essentially a sand-filled scrub to lift the oils from your skin…and you get to RUB THE SAND ON YOUR RASH for thirty seconds! Anyone who has ever had poison ivy knows that the release you get by scratching is body-wide.

Go forth and scratch, poison ivy sufferers! 🙂

(Note: we eventually concluded that Christian brought the poison ivy home from the golf course, where he had chucked a ball into the very rough. My OB joked that I got poison ivy because my husband needed to learn to play golf better.)

Mama's Losin' It


8 thoughts on “Poison Ivy

  1. Thia

    The last time I had it was a month after I gave birth to my son. It was systemic. It was evil. It lasted over two months. Benadryl, Ivy Dry, washing everything, and yes, scratching in the shower then washing with dish soap helped. A little. Hope it goes away soon for you.

  2. Clarification for drop-in visitors…

    This story dates back to 2006. I am not pregnant at the moment, although two days in retrospect, I read it and realize that it does read that way! Lesson learned: if you’re going to write in present tense, make it clear that you’re doing so as a literary device.

    (And what is up with the twelve typos I’ve had to correct in this comment? Have I forgotten how to type? How to use homonyms?)

  3. Poison Ivy is the worst. My little girl got poison ivy all over her body – like she had rolled naked in it – not once, but twice this past fall and winter. I had no idea you could even get poison ivy in the winter. We think she got it from vines that had been on a dead tree we had taken down, and that then sort of disintegrated over the yard. Both times she had to be on steroids.

    Also stopping from MamaKat’s

  4. sister sister

    I haven’t had poison Ivy since I was in elementary school…..aggg, I’m sure it had to be miserable to be pregnant with severe poison Ivy to top it off…stopping in from MK’s workshop.

  5. laura

    i just found out im pregnant with #3 and im covered the the worst poison oak i have ever had! my arm looks deformed, now my throat hurst im feverish and vomiting and have no idea if its because the poison oak, a cold, or just being pregnant!

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