Nature’s Poison Ivy Relief

Sep 2012
Earlier this summer I received a box from Harold Brown aka The Poison Ivy Guy. Since we have a least one case of the irritating skin rash in our household each year, I knew it was only a matter of time before we’d put his “natural, sweet fern remedy” to the test.

First, let’s speak to a few myths about the plant:
The Poison ivy rash is “contagious.”
The rash is a reaction to urushiol oil found in poison ivy, oak and sumac. The rash cannot pass from person to person, but urushiol can be spread by contact.

Once allergic, always allergic to poison ivy.
A person’s sensitivity to urushiol changes over time, and even from season to season. People who were sensitive to poison ivy as children may not be allergic as adults and vice versa.

Scratching poison ivy blisters will spread the rash.
The rash is caused by the urushiol oil found in poison ivy, oak and sumac and is not spread by the fluid in the blisters. If you have the urushiol oil on your hands and you scratch your nose or wipe your forehead, you may spread the oil and hence the rash. Avoid excessive scratching and make sure your fingernails and hands are clean.

Dead poison ivy plants are no longer toxic.
Urushiol oil stays active on any surface, including dead plants, for up to five years or longer.

I’ve been in contact with poison ivy before and I’m not allergic to it.
If a person has come in contact with poison ivy once and did not get a rash, it does not mean that he or she will always be immune. The first time a person is exposed to poison ivy he or she cannot get a rash. The first contact, which can occur without a person ever knowing, may create a hypersensitivity to the urushiol oil without causing a rash.

“Leaves of three, leave them be.”
This is true for poison ivy, but not poison oak and poison sumac. Although poison ivy has 3 leaves per cluster, poison oak has 3 to 5 leaves, and poison sumac has 7 to 13 leaves on a branch.

You can catch poison ivy rash by being near the plants.
Direct contact with urushiol oil is needed. However, it is important to stay away from forest fires, direct burning or anything that causes the oil to become airborne such as a lawnmower or weed whacker.

You have to touch a poison ivy, oak or sumac plant to get a rash.
The most common way people contract an allergic rash from these plants is by touching an item that has urushiol oil on it, including garden tools, camping equipment, boots and even pet fur. Since urushiol can stay active for years, it’s important to wash any item that has come in contact with poison oak, ivy or sumac with soap and water.

Besides complete avoidance, there’s no way to prevent poison ivy rash.
When applied to the skin before contact, IvyBlock is the only FDA-approved lotion that can prevent the rashes caused by poison ivy, oak and sumac.

Now that you know everything you need to about the plant, let’s get to treating the rash. Under any circumstances poison ivy is unpleasant at best. Most over the counter remedies offer topical relief from the itching for a short time. We found Nature’s Poison Ivy Relief to be a revelation. It’s hard to imagine a simple Native American recipe could offer such relief. This natural recipe is based on the use of sweet fern.

Sweet fern is a shrub that looks like a fern. It is native to the eastern U.S. and has beautifully scalloped, deciduous leaves. It is an aromatic astringent herb, used mainly to control bleeding, diarrhea, and as a wash for poison ivy rash (and other rashes). It is a member of the wax myrtle or bayberry family, which grows nearly worldwide, with about 40 species of small trees and shrubs, 5 native tree species, and 3 shrub species in North America. The leaves are very aromatic when boiled.

Sweet fern is a native american medicine used in the curing of poison ivy. Harold grew up on a dairy farm in Maine and has been using the remedy for more than 60 years. He learned from his grand father how to locate and prepare the herb, and has passed the knowedge onto the next generation.

Poison ivy relief is very easy to use – simply boil the leaves in a quart of water for approx. 20 minutes or until it looks quite dark. (enjoy the aroma) Strain off the leaves and let it cool. Once cooled, apply to affected area. You should see results in approx. 24-48 hours. Apply 4-5 times daily for best results. Leftover liquid can be stored in the fridge for up to 6 months.

My husband felt relief from using to product almost immediately. The itch reduced considerable, and within a few days was clear. An added benefit of storing the product in the fridge, was the cooling effect it had on the skin. We were complete converts!

In addition, Harold sent me a bottle of ‘Skeeter Skidaddler’, a natural bug repellant that is deet free and made without synthetic chemicals. Our biggest concern around here is Mosquitos and gnats. My son is a mosquito magnet, and I was delighted to put Skeeter Skidaddler to the test when he and a group of friends were visiting for a cookout. They were all complaining about the bugs, and threatening to move the party inside when I brought out the spray for them to try. Two hours later, they came in raving about how effective it was-and how the females in the group loved the scent. I’d say that was a major vote of confidence. I packed it with me the rest of the summer when ever I was going into bug territory. It was as good on the beach and hiking in the woods, as it was weeding in the garden. And I have to agree that I like the scent as well.
So there you have it. Two natural products to add to your medicine cabinets and travel kits.

This time of year be especially vigilant about poison ivy. As we move from the beach to the trails and start to clean out gardens, it seems the annoying plant is everywhere!

Let me know when you give either of these products a try-I’d love additional feedback.

Disclosure: I was sent Nature’s Poison Ivy Relief and ‘Skeeter Skidaddler for review. The opinions expressed in this review are my very own.