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.
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.)