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Guide to Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac


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#1 XGC_Cheevo

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 11:20 PM

I have to say this first. I am NOT a doctor/pharmacist/botanist. What follows is research I've done and personal experience from dealing with this stuff. Talk to a doctor first when dealing with these plants and the products I mention. Pictures may be graphic and if you like looking at male calves, somewhat sexual ;).

First off - Just what the hell are these plants and how do they affect you?

Well, these three plants are all part Toxicodendron family of plants and they produce a certain type of oil called Urushiol. This oil is what causes the body the break out in rash condition called contact dermatitis, but we'll get to that later.

Poison Ivy
:

Location:
Will be found in most states east of the Rockies including parts of lower Canada.

What's it look like?

Grows in small bushes or vines, three leaves and red stem!
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Poison Oak:

Location:
Found on the Pacific coast of the US and Canada.

What's it look like?

Grows in small bushes or vines, three to five leaves and red stem (sometimes)!

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Poison Sumac:

Location:
Found mostly in wet areas of the Southeastern US, East Coast and Southeastern Canada - Basically the entire East coast but also inland near the Great Lakes.

What's it look like?

Typically it grows in smaller vine clumps made up of a half dozen to a dozen leaves. Notice the red stems!

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These three plants should be avoided by most people. Touching them can make you break out in a rash which is actually your bodies reaction to coming into contact with Urushoil. Some rules for Poison Ivy and Oak:

Leaves number three, stay away from me

Stem is red, you'll wish you were dead

Urushoil - Oil from Hell:

This oil is like the cockroach of the woods. It can last essentially forever even on a dead plant. It you get it on your clothes and don't wash them properly you can be sure the next time you put them on, even if it's months or years after the first contact with the plants, the oil will be waiting ready to infect you once again. Wash all clothes which may have come into contact with the oil with hot soapy water. Also wash any gear as well. This includes paintball equipment, gardening tools, etc! If the item which you think is possibly covered in the oil is cheap, you can always throw it away. Don't burn anything which has come into contact with the oil as it can put the oil into the air and you can inhale it - you can guess what happens then :(. Obviously don't burn the plants themselves, even if the plants are dead.

Personaly Tip - I wash clothes once with dish soap, preferably something for washing really greasy pans. Dawn works well. Dish soap is made for cutting oil's and fats, and Urushoil is one of those! I usually throw all my paintball gear in the washer with Dawn dish soap. Then once it's washed, I do it all over again with regular laundry soap.

The Symptoms:

The good news - about a quarter of the population has no allergic reaction to Urushoil. Unfortunately that means the 3/4 of the population has to learn to avoid these plants. So called immunity to the oil can be gained or lost thru the passage of time. I was very sensitive to the plants when little and after a couple bad infections I luckily developed an immunity to it, this year I found out I'm back to being "normal" and lost it. You'll see a picture below.

Fun fact - one Poison Ivy plant stem can "infect" 10,000 people. The effects of coming into contact with Urushoil start with a rash developing on the skin in all areas where the plants oil touched the skin. Skin starts getting redder and blisters start forming, similar to hives. The blisters are formed from blood vessels and will ooze a watery solution which may or may not contain blood if they've been scratched. Try to avoid scratching at all costs - more on this later. The inflammation, swelling, redness, and blisters can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the serverity of the infection.

Poison Ivy myth: Scratching the blisters causes them to spread. False. The oil is already absorbed into the body. It cannot spread without second contact with Urushoil.
I got a wicked case of Poison Ivy rash this year at CPX Sports' Living Legends, dont turn into me :(:
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Many other pictures can be seen around the internet so I won't bore you with a huge list of them. You get the picture by now.

Treatments:

First off, prevention:

Obviously avoid exposure to the plants. Wash your skin as soon as you can after coming into contact with the plants. Wash with cold water! Cold water closes pores in your skin and gives you a bigger chance of avoiding the oil absorbtion. After an hour or so, the skin has usually absorbed the oil and you're in trouble. Apply a barrier cream or lotion. One such barrier lotion is called Ivy Block; it contains an ingredient which is designed to absorb the oil produced by these plants. I used to use it. I had great success with it. Obviously I should have stuck with it.

Over the counter or home remedies:

I don't recommend these. I've never had any luck with them but I know some people like to try or strictly stick to these types of things so I'll list them. Do some research before using any of these products.

Zanfel - Poison Ivy, Oak, Sumac wash
Cortaid - Anti- Itch Spray or Lotion
Tecnu - Anti- Itch Spray
Bendadryl - Anti- Itch Cream, Allergy Pills
Aveeno - Hydrocortisone Anti- Itch Cream
Calamine Lotion
Jewelweed lotions - these are actually proven to help in some cases

Do NOT use any products containing Benzocaine or Neosporin if using any prescription medication; more on this below.

Prescription Meds:

If you have a decent insurance program I would suggest using it to the max in this case. The pills and creams you can get are found in every pharmacy, since the plants are so common. And on top of that they qualify for most co-pays, meaning you may get them for free. Why not take advantage of that?

Your doctor may set you up with Triamcinolone Acetonide cream. You put this on the blisters and within minutes they start tingling and the itch can settle down to a dull feeling. I typically wrap my legs in guaze when I use these creams. The guaze lets air thru and doubles by not letting me scratch bare skin.

Depending on the severity of the reaction to the Urushoil and the amount of time which has passed before going to the doctor you have two other options available to you. 1. A Prednisone shot or 2. Prednisone pills. Most doctors will opt for the pills since this gives you a taper regimen. The reason for the taper is this; Prednisone suppresses your immune system. Typically you'll take a big pill dose the first day and slowly drop the dose until you're back up to fully operational immune system. The faster you get to the doctor after infection, the lower the amount of drugs you may have to take. This can be good for a few reasons. Prednisone side effects include water retention and insomnia. So not only do you itch all over, you feel fat, and can't sleep thru those itchy nights. Prednisone is also addictive. Use it only for the recommended doses and durations doctors prescribe.

Prednisone is the reason to not use Benzocaine or Neosporin products to stop itching. These products can also induce reactions the body would normally fight against, but with no immune system you are stuck with whatever you come into contact with. Please avoid sick people as well.

I hope this helps some people. With the resurgence of recball and scenario play, the woods are filling up with players.

If you've made it this far down into the post here's your reward. Poison Ivy isn't all bad.
Spoiler


#2 Eskimo

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 09:35 AM

So....so much useful
I guess after rolling around in that ivy during legends you decided to find out what it actually looked like lol.

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#3 cockerpunk

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 02:44 PM

yeah got some of the ivy from LL. it happens when you roll around in the brush for a while.
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#4 betacompany3stkr

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 04:55 PM

I have to cut wood for the boiler at my house and I get infected at least once a year. The stuff I found to work the best was called ivyrest. Ill see if I can confirm the name in a bit. It dried the infection up and the torment went away instantly, every time. It was brilliant.

Edit: it's called Ivarest. Close enough. It looks like it also comes in a spray bottle but I can only vouch for the cream since that is all I've tried.

Edited by betacompany3stkr, 10 June 2013 - 04:58 PM.

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#5 paintballguy2255

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 05:39 PM

Can any of these lotions/creams/spays/anything act as an Urshoil "sunscreen"?

#6 XGC_Cheevo

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 07:52 PM

As far as I know, just Ivy Block since that's what it's designed to do. FDA approved also. I've had some luck with it in the past on hiking trips.

#7 cockerpunk

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 09:58 PM

I have to cut wood for the boiler at my house and I get infected at least once a year. The stuff I found to work the best was called ivyrest. Ill see if I can confirm the name in a bit. It dried the infection up and the torment went away instantly, every time. It was brilliant.

Edit: it's called Ivarest. Close enough. It looks like it also comes in a spray bottle but I can only vouch for the cream since that is all I've tried.


i may be old school but i kill it like this:

in the shower, scratch them all open. let them oose out. as the oil comes out, use dawn, or some other dish detergent, and wash it repeatedly. keep scratching and oosing until all the shit is out, and then wash it with dawn again. it might hurt like a bitch, and when you have scratched so hard you see blood, your probably deep enough, but drain it all, and then dawn the shit out of it. it will be gone in no time.
The ultimate truth in paintball is that the interaction between the gun and the player is far and away the largest factor in accuracy, consistency, and reliability.

And yes, Gordon is the sexiest manifestation of "to the front."


#8 XxJellyFilledxX

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 09:07 AM

Kind of similar to cockerpunks theory. Get in the shower get the water as hot as you can possibly get it scratch it, then quickly go to cold water. For whatever reason it gives me about 5 hours or so of comfort.

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#9 XGC_Cheevo

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 10:32 AM

I've done the whole scratching in the shower as well. Unfortunately if you use hot water for an extended period of time your blisters will drain even after you get out of the shower. Can be gross when you have liquid draining down your legs or whatever part of the body it is. It can lead to infections if your hands aren't clean though so make sure you're clean under your nails and such.

#10 betacompany3stkr

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 02:58 PM

Oh man, that stuff that crusts up all yellow? Disgusting. I think I'll try what cockerpunk said next time I catch it.
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#11 cockerpunk

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 04:22 PM

I've done the whole scratching in the shower as well. Unfortunately if you use hot water for an extended period of time your blisters will drain even after you get out of the shower. Can be gross when you have liquid draining down your legs or whatever part of the body it is. It can lead to infections if your hands aren't clean though so make sure you're clean under your nails and such.


stay in the shower until all of it has drained out like i said.

then wash it again.
The ultimate truth in paintball is that the interaction between the gun and the player is far and away the largest factor in accuracy, consistency, and reliability.

And yes, Gordon is the sexiest manifestation of "to the front."


#12 Forrest

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:41 PM

I've had poison ivy 4 or 5 times, now I make it my job to avoid that shit like the plague.
I tip my hat to this thread, very useful and people playing scenario games should read this and keep an eye out for these evil plants.

#13 a5fan

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 03:51 AM

it sounds weird but putting tooth paste in the fridge to cool it then putting it on the rash makes it feel better for some time also works with burns

Edited by a5fan, 14 June 2013 - 03:52 AM.


#14 XGC_Cheevo

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 08:19 AM

That would be the baking soda found in some toothpaste. ;)

#15 canscom

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 04:12 PM

Here is another big tip dont touch yourself if you've touched poison ivy/oak :(
Stop worrying about how you look, and start worrying about how you play. Get out on the field and play paintball the best you can, not stand at home in front of a mirror trying to figure out if your jersey matches your eyes.

#16 MikeBlahBlah

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 05:38 AM

It CAN be spread from the first contact point by scratching---> BUT, NOT after you have washed and cleaned the infected area. Make sure to use lots of soap. Most types of bar soap dry out the skin and help to drain and absorb the oil. This will keep it from erupting into big yellow puss mounds of nastiness. Make sure you get it early. Don't look at it and hope it will go away. MAKE it go away.

#17 voad

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 08:30 AM

Here is another big tip dont touch yourself if you've touched poison ivy/oak :(



Did you mean Don't touch yourself or "Don't touch yourself ;)" Cuz if it is the latter then lmao that sucks.

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#18 HeroForADay

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 10:23 AM

Luckily I don't have any contact with any of these in my area, it's just not present. But that also means I wouldn't really know what to do if I had a run in with it.

We need to release some goats into that shit. They friggen love poison ivy and shit, don't know why, but they'll eat it happily and suffer no reaction at all.




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