When Poison Ivy Won’t Go Away… It’s YOUR SHOES!


20150719_141916Poison Ivy every gardener’s nightmare! A nightmare which could be easily avoided, or could it?

1. Look and learn the three leaves indicative of poison ivy. If in doubt, do not touch.
2. Always wear appropriate clothing. Gloves, long sleeves, long pants, COVER yourself, and you will be safe.

I followed these rules, yet, mysteriously I had the worst case of poison ivy, ever! It just will not go away. I searched for best remedies, my friends added more and more remedies.
Here are a few remedies, which worked ON THE ACTUAL POISON IVY BLISTERS and calmed the itching:

1. Benadryl. CAUTION: DO NOT DRIVE after taking it.
2. Topical medications which helped me: Tecnu Calgel and cortisone creams, 1%. Bathe with oatmeal and aloe, or use Avino products. I have in my refrigerator a homemade blend of oatmeal and aloe vera gel and applying it cold on the affected areas, help.
A knowledgable friend suggested jewel weed, which is a known Native American remedy, but I have not used it and hope there will not be a next time.

The real problem, was that I was now in my second week and the itching was getting worse. When it reached into my throat, I called the doctor and she gave me a steroid shot. Steroids are very bad for anyone, but especially for people who are already at risk for osteoporosis. I am NOT a fan of steroids, but this was a true emergency!


What I didn’t know, was that the OIL in THE PLANT GOES ON OUR CLOTHING AND SHOES and it is NOT WATER SOLUBLE, and it stays on our clothing and shoes, unless we wash everything PROPERLY.

I was stepping on poison ivy, I was washing EVERYTHING: GLOVES, CLOTHING BUT NOT MY SHOES!!!
As a result, every time I touched my shoes, I was re-infecting myself with the poison ivy plant oil which stays on our clothing and shoes until properly washed! And that’s not all!

You must clean EVERYTHING you touched with potentially infected gloves/hands: your door knobs, your car keys. EVERYTHING which might have gotten in contact with the oil in a poison ivy plant.

What does it mean, “properly washed?”

Two useful web sites about proper cleaning, ” From the cleaning supply closed,” (www.poisonivy.aesir.com) and http://www.attackpoint.org.

In short, the washing must be done immediately and it is essential to use a degreasing DETERGENT, not just water and soap. You must get out the oil and grease and soap will not do the trick. Some detergents mentioned were Dwan or Joy and Palm Olive.

It is the OIL in the plant, called URUSHIOL, which is the active ingredient, it is NOT water soluble, and it is active ALL YEAR LONG and normally stays active for 1-5 years!!! So… RUNERS BEWARE OF CLEANING YOUR SHOES!

Other important information.

The poison ivy’s oil leafs seem to be located at waist level and above, not at root level, but I would not risk…
Some people mention getting rid of poison ivy by swimming in chlorinated water, immediately after contact with the plant, or using a very diluted bleach when showering, and adding bleach when washing your clothing and shoes. The chlorine oxadizes the oil.

Personally, I do not recommend using bleach on the skin, as it seems, one might run into different problems if using bleach inappropriately on the skin.
Another suggestion is to do your gardening in the rain, as oil and water repel.

In conclusion:
No matter what you do, please wash not only yourself with a degreaser detergent, but EVERYTHING YOU WORN WHILE GARDENING AND EVERYTHING YOU TOUCHED!
I hope this information helps and we look forward to your shares of experiences!

2 thoughts on “When Poison Ivy Won’t Go Away… It’s YOUR SHOES!

  1. What an interesting article. I would have never thought to check and wash my SHOES.

    I have absolutely heard of the “jewelweed remedy.” The wonderful thing about jewelweed is that is typically grows beside poison ivy in the wild. This really helps if you notice the contact immediately. Look around and see if you can spot any jewelweed as soon as possible. They are part of the “Touch-Me-Not” family of flowers. The flowers are orange or yellowish, trumpet shaped, and their little pods pop open when you pinch them. I loved pinching and popping the ripe pods, as a kid. Usually, as a remedy, the fresh or stewed plant parts are crushed and rubbed on the skin soon after exposure to poison ivy.

    In addition, I have a cousin who is an EMT. He put straight bleach on a bunch of beestings my daughter got at a family reunion when she was four. I am not sure about the efficacy of bleach as a remedy to poison ivy, but the bleach neutralized the pain, swelling and itch of the poison inside the beestings. This really works wonders.

    For those who are allergic to the bee venom: of course, topical application of bleach is not to take the place of a rescue dose of epinephrine!

    Gotta love the summertime….


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