August 11, 2010,
K.B. asks from Kansas City, KS on August 10, 2010
Healing from Poison Ivy Rash
I got a fairly bad poison ivy rash on both of my arms. It took 2 rounds of steroids, steroid cream and antibiotic to get it under control.
I still have red discoloration from where the rash was, no more blisters or open wounds. I've been putting aquaphor on it. Is there something else I should try. I'm fair skinned so I scar fairly easily.
Also, I know the steroid pack affected my sleep and I still feel like I can't sleep well at night. How long does it take to get back to a normal nights sleep, I've been off the steroids for 3 days now. It's killing my energy levels during the day.
V.W. answers from Jacksonville on August 10, 2010
ooohww.. So sorry for you. I am recently recovered from an outbreak of poison oak on my face, neck and spotty patches on my chest/shoulders. I rubbed some of the oils from my mother's 'bout with it (on both her arms) during a visit with her. I have always been HORRIBLY reactive to it since early childhood. So I was very upset to realize I had it on my face. Again. (had it on my face once at Xmas as a child). I took all the meds (steroids and 2 dif kinds of anti-histimines for the rash and itching) and while it stopped getting worse (I caught it really early due to paranoia -- no blisters actually formed) it did still itch terribly, and I was worried I would spread it more. I washed my pillowcase every DAY and used a different one each night.
I read online that if you make a paste of baking soda and vinegar (like peanut butter consistency) and rub it really hard onto the affected areas and rinse, that it can speed up the cure/healing. Mine wasn't getting worse, but wasn't gone either. So I tried it. Maybe coincidental, since I DID take meds and a week had gone by, but it basically stopped itching within 36 hours after trying the "treatment", and my skin felt back to normal (not thick and leathery) in about 1 day.
I tell you all that just "for future use" should you need it and want to give it a try.
As far as the post medicinal effects, I felt "out of it" for close to a week. Just tired a LOT. I only took one round of steroids, but the antihistimines make you tired too. So if you are using Benadryl or other antihistimines to counter any itching, that may be where the tiredness and energy level issues are coming from. I got headaches for several days after stopping the steroids, too. I get so paranoid at every little "itch" or feeling of a hair moving on my arm when I have had it, that I get super sensitive to the feel of anything "itchy" and I think it wakes me during the night so that I don't scratch in my sleep. I just don't sleep very deeply during one of these outbreaks. Maybe you are not sleeping well due to something similar?
As far as skin care, have you tried an oatmeal bath? I know they can combat itching, but they also soothe irritated skin and might help some with the healing. I tried to use natural lotions that don't have a lot of petroleum products in them, too.
Sorry to hear you have suffered with it. It stinks.
P.M. answers from Portland on August 10, 2010
There's an herbal cream you might find helpful, called Florasone, available in health-food stores and many nutrition centers (or order online if you can't find it locally). I find it useful for healing many kinds of skin irritations and rashes, and I've read reviews that suggest it's nearly miraculous on some people's excema.
I had a terrible reaction to a cortisone shot once – it was about 2 weeks before I was sleeping again. Very tough. Try taking melatonin at night – it's a natural hormone produced by the body to promote sleep. As little as 2 mg. might help, but some adults take as much as three times as much.
If you have any risk of future poison ivy exposure, get a cleaning lotion called Tecnu, which not only can remove the toxic oils before you break out, but limits a breakout even after it's started. The only place you can't use it is on a wound that's already open and weeping. My husband is terribly sensitive to poison oak, and depends on this stuff to avoid or heal rashes. Read about it here: http://www.walgreens.com/store/catalog/Itch-Relief/Outdoo...#
J.R. answers from Boston on August 10, 2010
I just got over a poison ivy rash a few weeks ago and was unable to take steroids to help clear it up because I'm pregnant. I was only able to do cortisone cream and benadryl. It was on both arms and one thigh. I also have discoloration where the rash was but I've been using a coco butter stick as well as a natural soap from soapcos.com. My sister bought me the soap from one of their stores because they told her it helps with various skin conditions. It might be pure coincidence, but the moment I started using the soap is the moment the rash started clearing up. Up until that point it just seemed to be getting worse even with the cream and benadryl. I've been using it ever since! Could be worth a try...
K.L. answers from St. Louis on August 11, 2010
I've had a few really bad bouts with poison ivy, but was determined to find natural remedies that do not confuse other body functions with what they call 'side-effects'. Those 'side-effects' can sometimes be quite difficult to recover from. So, here are the things I found that worked miraculously:
I once had a poison ivy so bad it got into my bloodstream. Every time I the surface of my skin was scratched, such as when shaving, that area would break out in a rash. Using topical ointments was not enough. An herbalist told me to take 2 echinacea capsules 3 times a day for 3 days. By the second day all itching stopped. By the third day the rashes were completely smooth and had only left a slightly pink shadow which was gone within a week. It worked like a charm. Many people take echinacea the wrong way. It is great for some allergies, but only as a remedy, not a prevention. I've known folks to take it to try to prevent catching a cold. If you use it like that, it will be far less effective as a remedy. So, don't take it until you need it for an allergic reaction.
One of the areas I am trained in is massage, so I've worked with a lot of skin issues. There are some essential oils that are fantastic as skin healers. I either buy essential oils from a local herbalist or from Young Living Essential Oils so I know I am getting therapeutic grade essential oils. Helichrysum and Copaiba are great skin restorers, Lavender, Rose, and Tea Tree (Melaleuca) have many skin healing qualities. I use a pure aloe vera base and add 4 drops each of Helichrysum, Lavender, and Tea Tree to 8 oz. of aloe. It healed all the red blotches left from poison ivy and an old bout with rosacea. Some of these oils cost a bit, so you may want to look into places that sell them in very small quantities. In St. Louis, Cheryl's Herbs will sell Helichrysum by the milliliter. You use such small amounts of it in this recipe, one milliliter will last a while.
As for a topical solution to poison ivy, the best I've found is Burt's Bees Poison Ivy Soap. It is an inexpensive bar of soap that will last you a long time. You just soap up and wash the effected area a few times a day and within a few days it should be clearing up nicely. I always keep a bar in the medicine cabinet. The sooner it is applied, the better it works.
L.M. answers from Dover on August 10, 2010
Melaleuca has a few things that can help. Renew products and Sol U Mel.