Contrary to what DC Comics tells you, poison ivy is NOT this sexy.

IMAGE // Via Wikia

Well, I won’t beat around the bush (hardy har har).

I have poison ivy, y’all.

Or rather, poison ivy has me. It’s on my arms, hands, chest, neck, parts of my face, and soul.

The weirdest part? I have no idea how I got it! But I blame Claudia. Hands, chest, face? That’s prime nuzzling area.

It started out as a little tiny itch on my chest Saturday morning, and then my skin slowly freaked the f-k out. When I woke up Sunday morning, it was in between my fingers and my whole chest was bright red. During yoga later that day, the words “poison oak” came to me while meditating, and I, along with Dr. Google, concluded that that’s what it must be: A poisonous, evil demon plant.

Have you ever experienced poison ivy before? Oh my God, I don’t want you to. If you see poison ivy/oak/sumac about, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. I repeat: CLEAR THE PREMISES. Your epidermis is no match for these harmless-looking leaves, unless your epidermis is made out of stainless steel.

All that being said, I’ve been learning a lot about poison ivy these past few days, so I thought I’d share my new knowledge. Maybe it can help you out down the road!


1. Wash. If you know you brushed up against it, wash the area immediately to break up the poisonous oils from the leaves (urushiol). It was too late for me to use Tecnu, but apparently this is a very effective poison ivy soap. It is not holistic, probably because it was originally intended to remove radioactive fallout dust from skin. (Whoa.)

2. Wash your clothes / blankets / anything that might have touched the horribleness.  For example, I washed my pillow cases, bedspread, clothes I was wearing when I discovered the rash, a scarf I had on that day — you get the idea.

3. Get a steroid shot. I wish I could tell you that this was my last resort. That I juiced and soaked in oatmeal and made my own tincture and that today, my skin has been restored to a healthy, non-diseased glow. Because that’s what I wanted to do. Really. I attempted some homespun remedies (see below) and they helped, a little, but when I finally called our Chinese medicine doctor that Ross visits sometimes, she said: “honestly, I don’t have anything. The best thing you can do is get a steroid shot.” And then she gave me the name of a clinic and I went.

4. No doctor? Visit Medspring. Speaking of clinics, this one was a godsend! My visit plus my prescription cost $125. I do have insurance, but it’s private (i.e. useless), so this was basically out-of-pocket. But! It’s less than what I was expecting to pay, and the staff was oh so lovely. I was in and out in less than 15 minutes. I walked in, the receptionist had me sign papers, she walked me back to a treatment room, a nurse IMMEDIATELY took my vitals, then a doctor IMMEDIATELY came in and evaluated me, then I was IMMEDIATELY given a shot and sent me on my merry way with a prescription. I cannot say enough good things about it.

5. Hot water will temporarily cure your itch. I read somewhere on the Internet that hot water opens the pores and allows more of the poison to seep in, then I read a commenter say that was stupid, and then the two got in an Internet fight. Anyway, all I know is that running hot water over your rash will buy you a few hours of precious itch relief.  This really weird thing happens where the hot water makes your skin itch like mad, and it feels simultaneously good and awful (it made me cry last night), then you remove your body from the hot water and the itch is magically gone! (Temporarily.)

6. Ice works too. But the effects don’t last nearly as long as scalding hot water.

7. Tea tree oil and lavender oil are a small wonder. I mixed a 50/50 solution and dabbed my redness with it, and that created a cooling affect that calmed down my itchin’. But don’t get too overzealous with the tea tree oil — it’s very strong, and can burn your skin if you’re not careful. Dilute that shit!  You might play it safe and add more lavender than tea tree oil to your mix, since lavender is a lot calmer.

8. Baking soda + vinegar = closest thing to an at-home remedy. Ok, so I didn’t try this, but it seems as though the whole entire Internet swears by the baking soda/vinegar thing for poison ivy. Here‘s a thread of believers.

9. Don’t scratch! There is conflicting information out there on whether scratching spreads the rash or not. All I know is, it started out on my chest, then my hands (presumably because I was scratching), then my face (because I washed my face with my hands), then my arms because I was telling my friend, “thank goodness it’s not on my arms!” while rubbing said arms with my hands and boom, poison ivy arms. Best play it safe and don’t scratch. Try giving yourself a near third-degree burn instead. (See Tip #5.)

10. Lube up with raw cacao butter. I just got a tub of this stuff and am hoping there’s a sexy, smooth-skinned vixen underneath my current reptile-like pallor. Use it as your rash is drying out.

11. Drink lots and lots of wine. This method has only been tested and confirmed by one individual: me! In all seriousness, it’s probably wise to ask your doctor before you drown your sorrows in a bottomless glass of pinot noir and then pop those steroids, but so far it’s working out for this girl.

Wish me luck, Reader. I have a SXSW panel on Sunday and look like a (slightly cuter) version of Freddie Krueger.