Gonna Need an Ocean of Calamine Lotion

I appear to have contracted a case of my perennial arch-foe, Poison Ivy. Regrettably, not the delectable redhead, but the three-leafed weed.

It’s been a while since I’ve had it - but here’s the weird thing. Well, a couple of weird things. I don’t recall seeing any while doing yard work. The exposure seems to be on my arms. Not sure how I came into contact with it.

The other weird thing, and the reason I placed this in GQ - is that I used to practically explode when exposed to Poison Ivy. This case seems… mild.

So here’re the GQs : Can someone have a vastly different magnitude of response to Poison Oak, Sumac, and Ivy? Being violently allergic to one, but only mildly to another? Could my allergy to Poison Ivy have faded?

Or is this just the calm before the storm?

I apologize that I can’t answer your question but I can offer some unsolicited advice. Get rid of the clothes you were wearing when you came in contact with the poison ivy. It’s almost impossible to get the urushiol (the chemical which causes the allergic reaction) out of your clothes. You could heal up nicely then months later wear the clothes again and have another reaction. Not fun.

Hope you’re feeling better soon.

No dice - I have no idea when I came in contact with the stuff.

Perfectly possible to have different reactions to each of them.

And I initially read this thread title as “Gonna Need an Ocean of Calamari Lotion”

Poison Oak is a western species. Its unlikely you came into contact with it.

Poison Sumac grows in swamps. Unless you were smashing through the bogs (hmm, WV -possible I guess), you’re unlikely to have run into it.

You can have a poison ivy allergy fade, but usually they tend to get worse.

Poison ivy drops its leaves in the fall, but the bare vines remain. You may have contacted some of those. Perhaps a still-dormant vine has less urushiol to offer, but that’s a guess.

That’s unusual then - I mean, it could be some other kind of reaction, but it looks like Poison Ivy blisters. And it itches like poison ivy.

Shingles (a recurrence of chicken pox), looks a lot like poison ivy rash, but the bumps usually run in a line along a nerve. Have you had a nerve injury, or been under a lot of stress lately?

Hmmmm. It’s possible… No nerve injuries I’m aware of, but stress? Hmm. Tell me more.

Poison oak is all over my area of NC. So it is not just a western species.

Tip…hot water will help the itching.

here’s a tip that’s way too late , but may help you the next time you see poison ivy:

Take a shower using liquid dishwashing soap.
the theory is that poison ivy attacks by leaving its oils on your skin, and dishwashing soap cuts thru vegetable oil.
(This may be complete nonsense,but who cares about the biochemistry?–it works!) I’m VERY allergic to poison ivy, so any time I touch it, I take a shower with dishwashing detergent, (even 6 or 8 hours later), and I remain rash-free.

Any of your neighbors burning garden waste? As I understand it, the irritants can be spread by smoke.

Nein. No burninating.

Shingles bumps look like poison ivy, but are usually in a line following a nerve. The tops of the bumps turn translucent and then brown and scabby after a few days.

You only get shingles if you’ve already had chicken pox. The chicken pox virus goes dormant in your nerves and reemerges later. Usually you don’t get a whole body rash. Just a line of bumps. For me, this was across my back and up my right arm. They hurt, and burned more than poison ivy did.

You can only get chicken pox once. You can get shingles repeatedly. You don’t catch shingles; you caught chicken pox some time ago, and it came back. If you do have shingles, you need to quarentine yourself. You would be shedding chicken pox virus.

Oops about the poison oak. While some authorities regard poison oak and poison ivy to be different forms of the same plant, there is a western poison oak which is generally considered to be a distinct species.

IANAD IANAPB (professional botanist)


So, some fresh spots of itchiness arrived yesterday, the day after I mowed again. The spots from last week have started to heal and recede.

Checked out common symptoms of shingles, and it looks like there’s no match. I kept seeing that shingles are painful - these are without pain.

So I’m leaning again towards poison ivy or other vegetable irritant.

Do you have a pet that is allowed to roam some?

No… no pet.

Well, I’d say this helps us narrow down the issue a little. Did you rewear anything from the previous yard work? Did you come into contact with anything in the garage/shed which might contain it?

If you can’t correlate it to anything static with the yardwork, then it’s probably in the flora there. Perhaps a mulched up vine made its way into the grass and is being kicked up by the mower? Maybe the neighbor has a wild thatch of it that’s somehow making its way to your yard in tiny portions.
You should be able to start some detective work based on the second occurance.

I think I was wearing the same pants - but there’s no infestation on my leg.

My yard is full of a variety of bushes though - I was extra careful not to let my arms brush against them this time, but the handle of the mower did contact the bushes when I was mowing along them, so I’m guessing that’s the route of transference.

I really should post some pictures of the various bushes in my yard, get some of them identified…

Thats a good though, keep in mind that the pants could have the oil on the outside of the thigh or cuffs. You may easily transfer it to your forearms and hands if you rest your arms there while sitting, or perhaps you could have trasferred it off the cuffs while tieing your shoes.

All things being equal, I’d bet the bushes are a little more likely though.