That time I figured out I had poison ivy on a plane
Before I begin, let me clarify one thing. I did not get poison ivy on the plane. I got it while pulling weeds off the fence of our new house. It never occurred to me that poison ivy, oak or sumac would be in there. I’d never had poison ivy before so I didn’t know what to look for. I just figured it instantly turned into a widespread rash. Nope. At least not in my case.
It all happened a few days after I did my gardening. I noticed two spots on one arm and a spot on another arm. I do have allergic reactions to certain food and medications that result in hives, so I just figured I accidently ate something. I’m allergic to. I would put some anti-itch ointment on them and it would be fine… and then it wasn’t. Slowly I got a few more spots. I was very self-conscious of my arms at this point, and I had to get on a plane. I didn’t want to risk exposing anyone to whatever I had, which I was slowly beginning to realize was in fact poison ivy. I wrapped my forearms, which were breaking out even more, in ace bandaged with anti-itch medication slathered underneath. This was in no way comfortable for me and I’m sure the heat radiating from my skin wasn’t exactly great for the rash. By the time I landed I had more welts and it had even started to pop up on my feet. Almost all of my shoes that I had packed became ineffifient as they rubbed right on the spots that itch. I found myself wearing heels more in one weekend than I had in a year because they didn’t hit my rash.
Thankfully I was meeting up with a friend on this trip and she had a car. She rushed me to CVS to pick up a prescription for steroids, antibiotic cream for the now infected spots that had sprung up and some deodorant, because well, I had forgotten to pack deodorant and I was in Texas, which is a place you really, really need it.
By the end of the weekend my wounds were beginning to heal. I was still itchy, but I could tolerate clothing over my arms at least. I wore a long sleeved cardigan to the airport to avoid contact with anyone else’s skin. Even at the resort I was staying at I didn’t go in the pool just in case the oils from the poison ivy were not instantly killed off by the number of chemicals in there. What I really wanted was to lie down in the ocean and let the salt water work it’s magic, but sadly, I was land locked in the state of Texas with no ocean within a few minutes drive away. Under my cardigan I had the now healing infected spots covered up with bandages and antibiotic ointment, my remaining itchy spots slathered with antitch cream and a resolve not to scratch no matter how horrible this felt.
It was not a pleasant journey. I do not recommend traveling when you have poison ivy, but sometimes it just can’t be helped. Everyone I met was gracious and understanding when I walked in looking like the plague had taken over my arms and feet. I even remember saying to one gal “I’m normally so much prettier than this!” But what can you do. Gardening is necessary. Poison ivy and poison oak likes to hide out exactly where you need to be. So cover up when you garden. Shower and scrub every area of skin imaginable after you do. Wash all of your clothing, shoes and tools you used that day with dish and laundry soap. Moisturizing soaps can’t get rid of the oil, so wash your body with some exfoliating thing or a brown bar soap made just for gardeners. If may be rough, but think of it as a free skin scrub at the spa, except it is in your bathroom.
Read more about treating and traveling with poison ivy, oak and sumac.
Featured image of poison oak by Ray Bouknight/Flickr CC