My intention was to post the first “Color” of the CE blog last Sunday evening. The plan was “Red.” And it seems red was, most indeed, on the Universe’s agenda for me. Also pink. Lots of pink.
The itch began just around Sunday dinnertime on my forearms. Mildly annoying at first. Petals of pink histamine blooming in circles. Then boom!!, as if my immune system was an inflatable clown heartily walloped in the face, I was overcome by sneezing, watering eyes, running nose, and intense, broad itch. A screaming itch. It yelled into the night, preventing sleep while bright red bumps creeped toward my armpits.
I had not registered poison ivy or anything sketchy in my parents’ backyard when cleaning up the landscaping exactly one week prior. Dad and I had just grabbed at weeds and sprawling shoots of highbush cranberry that had to go.
Did you know that poison ivy’s trigger can take up to 10 days before it pummels your skin if it’s your first exposure? The oil lingers on clothing that brushed against its leaves, on your skin, on your shoes, on your tools, on your kneeling pad. The roots and viney stems hold that same oil and can escape notice.
If you find it growing in your spaces, do NOT burn it. That toxic oil will hurt your lungs and airways. The best non-chemical options are to smother it (use many layers of newspaper or thick cardboard to block all light ) or pull it out *while wearing thick vinyl gloves* and bag it before putting it in the trash. All parts of the plant – stems, leaves, roots, flowers, berries – contain the oil you want to avoid. If you want to re-use the gloves, wash them outside – while still wearing them – with Dawn and rinse well with clear water. Remove the gloves to dry, then wash your hands, wrists, and forearms with Dawn and rinse thoroughly.
When you come inside, throw your clothes into the washer at the highest, safe water temperature setting possible and use your regular laundering detergent. After a bit of agitation, pause the cycle so the detergent and water can break-up residual oil. (I say 20 minutes, but that is a gut feeling, not exact science.) Complete the cycle. Some say to repeat a cycle to truly get the oils out of clothes and rinsed away. And if, like me, you don’t know until later that you were exposed to something, be sure to wash all bedding to remove any oils transferred from your skin since the time of your exposure. Wash any towels you might have used, too.
To be fair, my doctor doesn’t know if poison ivy is to blame for my rash this week. Still, ‘tis the season to get reacquainted with its shape so we can all do our best to avoid it. This comprehensive site provides seasonal photos and maps of growing regions for poison ivy, poison oaks, and poison sumac:
Contact dermatitis (rash!) SUCKS. May hues of red and pink be blooming around your home, not blistering on your person.
Wear gloves, wear sleeves, don’t touch your face, await the re-do of the Red post and…