It's not contagious, relax!
If you see me in the next few days you might notice that I have 57 (just counted!) poison ivy bumps all over my lower legs and forearms. It is GROSS. I will spare you a picture for now but if you really want to see them let me know and I'll think about it!
This is the second time I've had poison ivy. The first time I got it was from a bike ride about five years ago through the pinery camp trails near our cottage. A few hours after the ride I noticed a large scab on my arm that itched like crazy. The bump was about an inch long and itched for about 5 days if that. At the time I thought it was just awful... but it turns out I didn't know the half of it!
Over the long weekend I helped my mom out with our garden at the cottage. There was a huge ivy bed that was well over grown. I spend about three hours digging through what turned out to be a GIANT poison ivy nest. After taking a shower I noticed a few bumps on my arm, didn't think anything of it. Then about four hours later I was covered. The largest spot is on my right leg, I've called it the nucleus - it's about the size of a golf ball, the other 56 bumps aren't bad either!
Here's what I've learned so that hopefully if you get poison ivy you're in the know right away:
1. Calamine lotion is very cooling and comforting, if your bumps are pulsing and oozing (gross) like mine this will feel awesome but it really won't do anything to make them better.
2. It is not contagious, the only way you can get poison ivy is from direct contact with the urushiol from the leaves. You can't even spread it on your own body except if you took a bath right after exposure.
3. If you think you've come in contact with ivy have a shower with sunlight dish soap immediately.
4. It changes colour! The leaves are reddish green in the spring, green in the summer and green-brown in the fall. Even dead poison ivy will transmit the oil and cause a rash! Don't think you're clear in the wintertime!!
5. Apple cider vinegar was a good home remedy for night one as was Benadryl.
6. Go to your doctor. Mine told me that cortisone cream really will not help speed healing because the reaction is internal. I'm now on prednisone for the next week to calm the inflammation. I'm normally not a pill popper whatsoever, we don't even have advil in the house! But if your legs looked like mine I'd bet I could sell you my pills for big bucks! So far it is helping, I'm on a large dose which makes me a little loopy but at least the itching has cut way down.
7. Try your best not to itch. It is almost impossible to avoid but this will lead to future infection, short term pain long term gain. Taking on and off my clothing feels heavenly! Haha!
8. This too shall pass. I'm on day 5, most websites say this will last from 5 - 30 days. I'm optimistic I'll be closer to the 5 mark!
9. Let it breathe! As gross as you think you look it will help your bumps heal faster! Plus, nothing says hello sexy like a little poison ivy!
If this is the worst thing that will happen to me all summer season then I will consider myself lucky! I hope you never need to make use of this information but if you do I'm sure you will make it through! Matt has had poison ivy 12 times!! And he's still here to talk about it!