When I was a boy, I had my first bad reaction to poison sumac with a rash that covered my body. It was brutal! We tried to treat it topically but that was futile. It was taking forever to get rid of it and eventually to help get rid of it, I went to the doctor gave me a shot of steroids which eventually did the trick. Since then, I have been very paranoid of sumac, poison oak and poison ivy. I hate these plants, I don’t understand their purpose and I do everything I can do to avoid them. Some people say they don’t get the rash, they aren’t allergic to it and that they have never gotten it. They are lucky, very lucky! Not me, I used to get it every year. So, what I want to write about here, is how to recognize these plants, avoid them, protect yourself against them, and cleanup after you think you’ve touched one of them.
I love the outdoors and I love working outdoors, too! I hike and fish in the woods. Also, I work in different yards and in places where I’m not sure whether there are any of these poisonous plants. So what I do is I look around the for these plants before I hike, fish or start working. I bring this product “tecnu” with me and before I even start working I put it on my hands, arms and my legs. This product neutralizes the oils that cause the rashes on my skin. So here, I’m using it is a barrier between me and the plants’ oils/juices.
These poisonous plants are nasty things! You can get these oils/juices on you, on your clothes, on your shoes and on your tools. These oils/juices will stick around until they are cleaned off. So if you have these oils/juices are pair of boots in your closet from last year, you can still get a rash from that. How messed up is that!? That’s why people say “I didn’t touch anything” or “I don’t know where I got this,” it could very well be they got it from residual oils/juices on a jacket or pair of boots, from previous years.
So, what do I do? I’m, as I said, pretty paranoid so I go overboard, protecting myself. But, hey, I haven’t gotten it yet this year and at all last year, and believe me I’m knocking on wood right now, for continued good luck and success! I guess the fact that I know what the plants look like is a huge help. If you want to see what they look like click here. I use “tecnu” as a barrier on my exposed skin. I leave my washing machine open and when I’m done working, I carefully take my clothes off and put them directly into the washing machine. I then wash my hands and rub “tecnu” into my hands. Then I clean my glasses, my wallet, belt, keys and any other crap that I have my pockets. I put a little “tecnu” on a paper towel and I wipe these things down then I take a wet paper towel (cold water only) and clean off the “tecnu.”
OK to recap, my hands are washed, my pocket items are cleaned, my a clothes are in the washer. So now, I just have my equipment and body to wash. My rake, my shovel and my lawnmower are not going to get a rash, so I let those wait and I cleaned those afterwards. At this point I take a shower, and, I take a cold shower because it closes my pores as it rinses the oils/juices off my skin, should there be any. I really do a thorough job rinsing off, then I wash my hair and at this point I continue have a somewhat normal shower. After a few minutes you get used to the cold water. When I am done. I dry myself off and throw my towel on the washer, as well. Now, I get dressed in all new clothes. And now, it is time to clean my tools and or equipment.
I put a new batch of “tecnu” on my hands, I then go outside and wash off my tools with cold water from the garden hose. I put some “tecnu” on a paper towel and I will wipe my doorknobs, my shoes, the handle on my lawnmower and other parts on my lawnmower with “tecnu”, if I think they have poisonous oils/juices on them. As I said earlier, this is what I do to protect myself from poisonous plants. And yes again I am knocking on wood. Good luck, be well and live itch and a rash free! Enjoy the outdoors and be safe!