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If the plant above looks familiar to you, you’ve probably spent some time looking for a poison ivy itch cure.
Just this week- for the first time in my life- so did I!
How to Identify Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac
Clearly, I should have done my homework BEFORE this week, but now I know and can share…
Poison ivy leaves hang from the stems in groups of three (like above) and are typically shiny. Their color can change with the seasons from light green to darker green in the summer and autumn hues of red and yellow in the fall.
Poison oak also has leaves in threes, but they show more of a reddish cast, look more vine-y, and have uneven scalloped edges.
Poison sumac is more like a shrub and grows close to water. It has smooth leaves with red stems.
If you want more information about identifying poison ivy, oak, and sumac, hop over to the “Identify Plants” section of Poison-Ivy.Org. It’s an amazing resource!
Poison ivy, oak, and sumac all have a terrible, horrible, long-lasting oil called urushiol that causes a painful, burning, insatiably itchy rash.
The urushiol sticks around (literally, like to pets or clothes or gear), and it doesn’t wash off anything easily.
Home Remedy Fails
After one of my favorite and familiar hikes in nearby Cedar Creek Park, I woke up the next day with one WILDLY itchy shin.
I mean REAL WILD, like on fire and itching that felt a few inches deep!
I knew I must have brushed up against some serious urushiol.
For all the miles I’ve hiked, I had never experienced anything like this before.
It felt AWFUL.
It also looked AWFUL:
My first instinct is always to use home remedies, so I lined up my defenses:
After about five minutes – and some mild delirium from the smell- I took it off…and…
But only for only about half an hour!
It was back to insane itching and burning.
I mixed up some good old baking soda with water, a favorite mosquito-bite itching cure from my childhood, and caked it on.
Thank God it was a work-from-home day:
That stopped the itching for, oh, let’s call it 45 minutes.
So I went back to the apple cider vinegar.
Then I caked on more baking soda. I wiped it off with apple cider vinegar for good measure.
I finally decided home remedies weren’t for me this time around!
Over-The-Counter Almost Win
In desperation, I dug through our bathroom cabinet to find this gem, Extra Strength Ivy-Dry.
The scent was strong, but it alleviated the itching for almost THREE WHOLE HOURS.
It was wonderful.
Until those three hours were over. The next time I applied it, it had an even shorter relief time.
By the fourth time, I knew this wasn’t exactly what I needed to cure the poison ivy itch-but it had been the most successful try.
And the POISON IVY ITCH CURE AWARD Goes To...
While scouring drug stores for a poison ivy itch cure, I noticed empty shelf space for a product that was completely sold out called Zanfel. I also noticed it was the most expensive option at $36 a tube- but at this point I was willing to pay whatever I needed to get relief!
I had my husband Google it out of curiosity- and it really sounded AMAZING…is it wrong that the marketer in me also loved their tag line, “It Works!”?
It claimed it could wash away the poisonous urushiol & cure my itch in 30 SECONDS.
GET ME SOME!
We called around and finally found a tube at a nearby 24-hour drug store- and they only had two left!
$36 later, I carefully followed the simple instructions by hanging my leg into the bathtub (wet area, use 1 1/2 inch long squeeze of Zanfel with a few drops of water to make paste, rub it on like crazy, wash completely off), and voilà!
I am thrilled to report that the itching IMMEDIATELY STOPPED for the rest of the evening and I slept soundly that night.
I used it one more time the next day when I thought I felt a stirring of an itch, and DOUBLE voilà!
ITCH COMPLETELY GONE.
I still DO have the rash, and I imagine that will take time to heal- but I sure don’t have the itch!
If you are going crazy with a poison ivy itch, I recommend Zanfel 100%.
Do you have other successful (or unsuccessful) home or store remedies?
Please share below!