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View Full Version : Help!:bad case of poison oak


hunteran
02-14-2007, 18:33
Gentlemen:

I am sorry to bother everyone but I was wondering if anybody has any advice when it comes to treating poison oak. I am covered in the stuff (literally; the only places I don't have it is on my feet, hands and parts of my face) and I am in desperate need of advice. I (stupidly) went bushwhacking on a run and ended up wallowing in it so it is pretty much everywhere. I am currently using a cortisone cream and using calamine lotion. I was wondering if there is anything else that I could be doing to stop the itch and speed recovery. Any advice/folk remedies would be much appreciated.

Kyobanim
02-14-2007, 18:47
I don't know of anything outside of what you're doing but I have one statement.

am covered in the stuff (literally; the only places I don't have it is on my feet, hands and parts of my face) I hope you forgot to name a couple of places here.

mugwump
02-14-2007, 19:00
Been there. For do-it-yourself, Benadryl will help w/ the itching and will help you sleep. Going to the doc, topical betamethasone creme, a synthetic steroid, often helps. If it's as extensive as you say, a steroid injection may be in order.

hunteran
02-14-2007, 19:02
I don't know of anything outside of what you're doing but I have one statement.

I hope you forgot to name a couple of places here.

I didn't:(

Gypsy
02-14-2007, 19:04
Yikes. My aunt used to have us kids bathe in a lukewarm oatmeal bath, IIRC it was Aveeno, and lots o' calamine lotion. Worked pretty well.

Good luck!

mugwump
02-14-2007, 19:25
And I have to reluctantly mention, this has worked for me in the past for the itching but it's a bit intense. Try high-dose Benadryl first.

Fill your tub with hot, and I mean just shy of second-degree-burn hot, water. Japanese bath hot. If you can put your foot in the tub comfortably, it's not hot enough. Put towels/bath mats down around the tub.

Submerge yourself as quickly as possible and hold yourself under. The heat will cause the mast cells in the dermis layer (mast cells produce and release the histamine which causes the itch) to simultaneously and immediately dump all their histamine. You will experience what the medicos describe as "exquisite pruritis" for about a full minute. Hint: when medicos use the word "exquisite", it doesn't mean what you think it does.

If you have a dose of poison oak/ivy/sumac as bad as you describe, you will briefly go insane with the itching. You WILL thrash around. (You did remember to put down those bath mats?) But as quickly as it starts it fades, and then you'll have about 4-5 hours of relief before the mast cells build up the supplies of histamine.

The keys are hot water, submerge quickly (or the leg you put in will itch so badly that you'll never get the rest of your body into the water), and be willing to experience 5 hours worth of itching in one minute.

Good luck.

booker
02-14-2007, 20:55
In the future, have a bottle of Technu in the house. If you wash any potentially "infected" areas within a few hour period it will prevent or greatly diminish those symptoms that you are currently experiencing.

lksteve
02-14-2007, 21:15
In the future, have a bottle of Technu in the house. +1...Oak'n'Ivy Brand Technu Outdoor Skin Cleanser to be exact...i won't say i swear by it, but it seems to work...follow the directions...i don't seem to react as badly as some, but i've been in it up over my head and after washing off with Tecnu, had no reaction whatsoever...of course, it helps if you can get into some clean, dry clothes immediately after bathing...and of course, you will need to either burn the clothes or wash them thoroughly several times before you wear them again...

to help with the itch, i got some anti-itch gel that is 2% diphenhydramine Hydrochloride...

x SF med
02-14-2007, 21:43
Benadryl - go about 75mg - and be prepared to be sleepy. make a paste of baking soda and calamine -use liberally. SEE a Doctor. Mug's method is good, it'll allow you to get 5 hrs of comfort, and after a few repeats might keep you from being able to father children for a while...

hunteran
02-14-2007, 21:45
Gentlemen:

I thank everyone that responded, I am now much less itchy for the time being.

Mugwump: I tried the hot-bath and it worked, the intense itchiness was unpleasant but now I am much less itchy. I will see if I can rustle up some Benadryl tomorrow. I don't think the cortisone shot is needed at the moment (I haven't broken out in pustules yet, I'm just red, splotchy and itchy).

Gypsy: I will try out the oatmeal bath as soon as I can get some more oatmeal (my dad will murder me if I use his breakfast in a bath)

Booker & Iksteve: I had a bottle of that stuff but it disappeared a while ago, I've used it before and it has worked quite well for me (I think I might buy a case of the stuff to avoid a repeat of today).

x SF med: I will try the paste tonight and the Benadryl as soon as I get some.

Again, thanks to all of those who responded.:)

The Reaper
02-14-2007, 22:09
Mug's method is good, it'll allow you to get 5 hrs of comfort, and after a few repeats might keep you from being able to father children for a while...

Just my .02, but I don't think a 17 year old in high school should be planning to have a family for while, regardless.

I also have to wonder how a student managed to get poison oak over areas of his body that should have been covered by clothing, especially in February.

TR

lksteve
02-14-2007, 22:17
I also have to wonder how a student managed to get poison oak over areas of his body that should have been covered by clothing, especially in February.if his profile is correct, he lives east of Oceanside CA...and he alleges he was running...

and if i recall being 17...well, let's just leave it at that...:D

hunteran
02-14-2007, 22:22
Just my .02, but I don't think a 17 year old in high school should be planning to have a family for while, regardless.

I also have to wonder how a student managed to get poison oak over areas of his body that should have been covered by clothing, especially in February.

TR

TR:

I live in Southern California so its not too cold at the moment (it was in the high 50s to low 60s yesterday). I was running (wearing only shorts and shoes) and during the run me and two of my teammates decided to bushwhack down a steep hillside to get to a trail we spotted. I guess some of the bushes that we utilized as crash pads turned out to be poison oak. I admit, it was very stupid of us (but, in our defense, poison oak doesn't have leaves this time of the year). Stupid should hurt and in this case it didn't hurt, it made me itchy all over.

Roycroft201
02-15-2007, 00:11
RE: the oatmeal bath..............

Gypsy mentioned Aveeno, which is a good product.

Also, if you are near a mall or plaza that has a Bath and Body Works store......
they carry an oatmeal bath made by C.O. Bigelow (and apothecary that has been in NYC since the mid-1800's). It is in a silver can with black lettering. I saw one woman buy 9 cans of it for her husband because whatever he swore by it.

kachingchingpow
02-15-2007, 11:52
Man I used to get that stuff all over me when I was a kid. Had my eyes and ears swollen shut many times. That steroid shot will knock it out in just a couple days... it's amazing.

I might have outgrown the allergy. I'll get a spot or two every once in a while, but not nearly like it used to be. It could also be that I always washup with cold water and ivory soap anytime I think I might have been exposed to it (within a few hours). Safety precautions learned in chemistry gave me that idea. This might explain how you got it in some "odd" places. If you took a hot shower after your run, you might have spread the stuff all over without realizing it. It takes some scrubbing, and a good soap to cut through the oil.

FWIW, Zanfil is a good product. Expensive, but I've used it and had good results. Works for several days after initial exposure IIRC. I keep a tube of it in my trailer at hunting camp. Zanfil is a wash that has a grit to it like Go-Jo. The coarse grit helps to disconnect the oil that causes the rash from the skin. I think they recommend initially using cold water too.

JMI
02-15-2007, 12:51
I am allergic to Ivy/Oak and use to get VERY bad cases of the stuff. It was so bad it used to grow on top of itself. I remember not be able to make a fist because the webs of my fingers were so swolen. And I got it everywhere!

I feel for ya, kid. Sounds like you have all the advice you need. My GF did get a bad case of something and the MD prescribed Hydroxizine for the itching.

Good Luck.

Warrior-Mentor
02-15-2007, 16:18
Tecnu is good stuff....but when I get it that bad, I have to go to the Doc...get the steroid shot (predisone -sp?) followed by the pills.

The Reaper
02-15-2007, 16:45
Never caught it, even when pulling it out of the ground on the farm.

I must be immune and am glad of it.

TR

mugwump
02-15-2007, 17:08
I get a rash if I even look at the stuff. I once worked on a fouled bush hog on a 100 degree day, constantly wiping sweat out of my eyes, drinking beer and peeing in the bushes. The hog must have been covered with sap. My eyes swelled shut, I had blisters on the whites of my eyes, and I was 5 minutes from needing a catheter before the steroids kicked in <shudder>. I was not happy.

Team Sergeant
02-15-2007, 17:18
Never caught it, even when pulling it out of the ground on the farm.

I must be immune and am glad of it.

TR

Me neither...back in the 80's we had a jr medic on our team that during a survival mission wiped his butt with some poison oak leaves...... he was a very distraught medic for a while... Dean you out there?;)

Doczilla
02-16-2007, 08:48
I'm not your doctor, but if I had it as bad as you do, I'd see my family doc about a course of oral steroids or some high-potency steroid creams. Then again, if you're feeling much better now, don't bother.

Systemic steroids are generally indicated if there are bullae (large blisters), if the rash covers more than about 20% of the body, or if the rash is in really sensitive spot. :eek: The usual 5 day prednisone burst that we prescribe for acute inflammatory conditions may lead to rebound worsening of the rash when the steroids are completed, so a 10-20 day tapered course is usually indicated. I don't generally give a steroid by injection in these cases, since the onset of action is the same as if you swallowed the pills.

'zilla

hunteran
02-17-2007, 01:21
Ok, here's an update:

All the spots that were red and itchy are now red, itchy and covered in pustules. I went to see the doctor today and he had me take 2 20mg Prednisone tablets and gave me a prescription for the next 4 days. I hope this stuff works because I now have pustules covering my rear end, forearms, legs, neck and my elbows, its kinda hard to sit or lie down.:boohoo

Warrior-Mentor
02-17-2007, 10:48
Sounds like he gave you the right stuff, but cheated you out of the shot.

...and the dosage seems low...I seem to remember taking 3 pills for 3 days, 2 pills for 3 days and 1 pill for 3 days...

Anyone else remember Doc Keaton's magic witch doctor formula to beat to the creaping crud?

Doczilla
02-17-2007, 21:26
That dosage is okay (prednisone is dosed based on weight, and 40mg is okay for your average young adult) but the duration might be a little short. You may find that you get better for a few days, then get worse again after the steroid burst is done. If this happens, go back to the doc and get several more days' worth. 10 days to 3 weeks may be necessary.

Steroids need to be tapered if given for more than a few days, as the body will get used to having the steroids and then potentially suffer an addisonian crisis (low native steroid levels, potentially leading to shock) when they are discontinued. At 5 days, we've found that the course is short enough that it doesn't need to be tapered, since the body doesn't really have time to "adjust" to having the extra steroids. Longer than that, and Warrior-Mentor's gradually tapered dose is the standard.


'zilla

hunteran
02-17-2007, 21:30
That dosage is okay (prednisone is dosed based on weight, and 40mg is okay for your average young adult) but the duration might be a little short. You may find that you get better for a few days, then get worse again after the steroid burst is done. If this happens, go back to the doc and get several more days' worth. 10 days to 3 weeks may be necessary.

Steroids need to be tapered if given for more than a few days, as the body will get used to having the steroids and then potentially suffer an addisonian crisis (low native steroid levels, potentially leading to shock) when they are discontinued. At 5 days, we've found that the course is short enough that it doesn't need to be tapered, since the body doesn't really have time to "adjust" to having the extra steroids. Longer than that, and Warrior-Mentor's gradually tapered dose is the standard.


'zilla

The doctor told me to come back if it started to worsen after I came off the pills. I am a pretty small (165lbs) guy so that probably explains the low dosage. I have a question, how long does this particular steroid take to make me better? I have not really noticed a difference in my condition (I got my first dose last night at about 8:15pm and took my second dose at about 11:00am today).

Pete
02-18-2007, 06:09
.....I am allergic to Ivy/Oak and use to get VERY bad cases of the stuff. It was so bad it used to grow on top of itself....I feel for ya, kid. Sounds like you have all the advice you need. ...Good Luck.

Ditto;

Never bothered by that stuff when I was in the Army. A few years back I got my arm scratched up inside a giant rose bush. It was a hot, humid day and my arm was dripping sweat. Upon looking at the bush I noticed it was full of P. Ivy. My left forearm turned to soup and dripped fluids for the next three weeks. Had to keep a rag around my fingers when I was on the keyboard. Doc's? "Keep plenty of bandages to soak up the fluids". Oh, well

Now I have to keep a lookout for the stuff.

Pet

hunteran
03-05-2007, 23:36
Update (and a review of what worked and what didn't):

My rash is gone, I still have a small amount of redness and some itching but I think I will be good to go by the end of the week.

Now, allow me to give a little review of the things that I tried to relieve the itching and speed my recovery.

Prednisone: I got pills prescribed a couple of days after the pustules appeared. Within 2 days of the first dose the pustules began to dry up and they fell off within a week of the first dose. However I began using this really good lotion when I began taking the pills and I feel that the lotion was more effective than the prednisone.

Aveeno (Anti-Itch concentrated lotion): This stuff is liquid gold. I started using this the same day that I started taking the prednisone and I feel that this lotion was responsible for my speedy recovery. It contains 3% calamine to dry out the rash and 1% pramoxine HCl to relieve the itching. I absolutely loved this stuff, I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone unlucky enough to get poison oak. It dries out the rash quickly and it stops the itching for a substantial amount of time.

Aveeno hydrocortisone cream: This stuff wasn't that great. It didn't dry out the rash and it didn't stop the itching for very long. It was also very messy and expensive. I don't recommend this product.

Hot-water bath: This works well, I won't go into details because it has already been discussed pretty well. All I can say is this preserved my sanity until I got the Aveeno anti-itch lotion.

Oatmeal bath: I didn't have the chance to pick up any of the commercial stuff. However, I DO have a really powerful blender that can grind grains. I threw some oatmeal in the blender and it quickly turned the oatmeal into a fine powder. This technique helped dry out the rash a little but it really helped relieve the itching. I recommend this also.

Calamine lotion: I used this stuff until I got the Aveeno anti-itch lotion. It dries out the rash quickly and helps sooth the itch. However, the Aveeno stuff works just as well and is less messy. I also recommend this stuff.

Zyrtec: My dad had some of his prescription left over from his nasty bout of poison oak. This stuff was so-so. It is an anti-histamine but I didn't really notice any significant relief in the itching.

Again, many thanks to those who offered advice, I hope that others will be able to benefit from the information presented in this thread. And for God's sake, leaves of 3, let it be!

Sponge
03-06-2007, 04:38
Man, this thread brought back some bad memories. I think over my short 5 years thus far in the army, poison ivy/oak is the only thing I`ve ever gone to sick call for. Unless you count a torn ACL, and in my case the poison ivy got a quicker diagnosis and treatment.
I get the stuff about once a year. Ill play with the lotions and creams for a little while, but it manages to always make it to my face. At that point its on to the oral prednisone. Everything in your review looks good, and it sounds like your back on track and feeling a lot better, but don`t forget to wash everything you`ve been in contact with right after you ran through the stuff. And make sure its washed in very warm soapy water. I also just saw rubbing alcohol works well on a quick google search. Or just burn the stuff like LkSteve mentioned. Ive re-caught it once from a sleeping bag I hadnt used in a couple years. It sucks when you`re nowhere near the woods and you break out in hives and pustules.
Nothing will break a strong man down quicker than a wicked case of the itchies. Well, maybe one night in Bangkok will.

Genghis_Don
03-06-2007, 05:50
hmmmmm,there's a soap we used to have at home as a kid for just such purposes ...... Fels Naptha. I hear you can find it still at kroger stores. i found it online here also:

http://www.maststoreonline.com/browse.cfm/4,361.htm

Monsoon65
03-07-2007, 19:20
hmmmmm,there's a soap we used to have at home as a kid for just such purposes ...... Fels Naptha. I hear you can find it still at kroger stores. i found it online here also:

http://www.maststoreonline.com/browse.cfm/4,361.htm

Blast from the past!! We used that exact same soap as a kid if we thought we went thru poison oak/ivy. Dad would make sure we showered with it ASAP.

Genghis_Don
03-08-2007, 15:02
And if you're in Harrisburg, you can wash with Fels Naptha and then enjoy the mild sedative effects of a Yuengling Black and Tan or two!

x SF med
03-08-2007, 15:03
And if you're in Harrisburg, you can wash with Fels Naptha and then enjoy the mild sedative effects of a Yuengling Black and Tan or two!

Porter, Yuengling Porter -- YUM!!!!

kachingchingpow
08-26-2007, 13:42
My brother just brought me a case of Yeungling Black & Tan back from PA. Good stuff. We can't get it in GA due to the ridiculous distribution monopoly here. On of my parents friends... our next door neighbor growing up, lived in Pottstown until he went off to WWII. He grew up with the Yeunglings, and always had the lager over at his house. Back in the day when you could only get in S. PA.

On topic... I struggled with the damn'd Ivy for 10 days. It covered my legs from where the top of my boots stopped to the bottom of my shorts. I spent $90 on Technu, Zanfel, Benadryl, Calamine, you name it. The Technu and Zanfel "felt great" when scrubbed on in the shower. It probably helped some, but I had it way to bad to be completely effective. It was probably 14 hours from the time I contacted the stuff until I got a shower, and I was doing a lot of outside work in 100+ degree heat. At the 10 day mark and new blisters still coming up (just in the areas that made contact), I called my Dr. at noon, got a shot at 2 and it was scabbing over and inflammation reduced 75% by the next morning. They gave me some anti-histamine which I only took for 2 days, a methy-prednisolone pack, which I never took and some steroid creme. That was a week ago, and all I have is the purplish looking scarring which I'm sure will fade over time. I haven't had the stuff like that since I was a kid, but I knew the entire time I was in contact with it. I thought I had "grown out" of the allergy. I'll be damned if I'm going to crawl into it like that again, and if I do, I'm just going straight to the Dr. for the shot. Heck, doing so would've saved me about $100 in BS pharmaceuticals and 10 days trying to tough it out.