Colloidal Oatmeal for Poison Ivy Itch

Colloidal Oatmeal Helped My Poison Ivy Itch

Poison Ivy. Can we really say anything bad about a plant that God made for us? After all, it does feed birds and animals that don’t react adversely to the oils on the potent plant. It grows quickly, and is hard to eradicate, making it a great plant to aid against erosion. But after that, well, we’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds when praising poison ivy.


People usually develop a sensitivity to poison ivy after only a few encounters with the plants, sometimes over many years. Others may be affected the first time they touch it.

I was fortunate. Having grown up around the plant (who hasn’t, really, if you’re an American–The stuff’s all over the continental US, and grows on every continent), I’ve had the chance to touch it here and there. After countless brushes with the weed, not once had it given me the itch. So, foolheartedly, I continued to  treat it like clover. I would pull it from fence lines, yank it out by its roots near tree trunks, and gather it for composting with my grass trimmings. I’d pick it like a flower and taunt my friends. I’ve even thought about rolling in the stuff.

Until a few summers ago when the weed revolted, spreading its red itch down my arms and back like lava from a volcano.

Urushiol is the culprit. It sounds like a Shakespearean character, but really, it’s a chemical in poison ivy. Urushiol isn’t found on the external part of the plant, either. It’s inside, so you can’t “catch” poison ivy by brushing against the weed. Unless, of course, the weed is cut, torn, bruised, maimed, wind-broken, animal chewed, or anyway open to the public, which, more than likely it will be. So, unless the plant is perfect, you will brush the urushiol.

That’s how it snuck up on me. Hmmm. It’s making sense now. That plant on the neighbors side of the fence . . . the one sneaking into my side, it’s POISON IVY! I guess the WeedTrim9000 shouldn’t be used on the plant. It not only opens up the plant, it SPRAYS it around.

Nearly all animals can mess with poison ivy with no problems. Humans, however, can’t even mess with an animal that messed with, or ran through, or chased a ball into, or, whatever, with poison ivy. Wash off your pets–and everything–that comes in contact with the plant. That shovel you used to dig it up, and the machete you blazed the trail back to the shed, make sure you clean them off or they, too, can come back to haunt you later. That’s because Urushiol can stay on things and remain potent for years! If you get it on your favorite fishing vest, wash it immediately. That stuff could get you next season.

I didn’t know that I’d contracted the rash, so I did nothing. What I would do now is completely different. You need to immediately clean the exposed area with rubbing alcohol, then wash the area with a lot of water. Next, if you can, take a warm, soapy shower. And pray. Pray you got rid of the Urushiol. And don’t forget, your pants, gloves, clothes, etc. still have the urushiol on them, so handle them carefully, and clean them with alcohol and water to. Then stick them in the washer.

Anyway, it was too late for me. And I got the full-blown rash. It itched like sixty-million mosquito bites, or something like that. Up and down my arms and back. Yes, I remember it well. Ouch. What helped for me during the two weeks of scratching? Colloidal oatmeal baths, antihistamines, and hydrocortisone cream. But the baths were the best. They actually seemed to take the itch away. I took the oatmeal baths three times a day. I wanted to take more, but I followed the directions. They really helped. I could actually relax without thinking about scratching. Very nice. And since it kind of coats your skin with that silky feeling, it lasts much longer when you get out of the tub.

So this year, I won’t be using the string trimmer on any three-leafed plants! And I won’t grab, touch, brush up against, or do anything near the evil weed. I learned my lesson. So if you plan to hit the woods, or your backyard, keep some rubbing alcohol and water ready. And keep your eyes open for the poison ivy. And if your pet rolls in it, oatmeal baths should help.

You can find some colloidal products here that may help your symptoms.