Author Topic: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?  (Read 9112 times)

frugally

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My wife and I live in a more rural area, so poison ivy/oak/sumac always seems to creep up near the edges of our yard.  We spray to kill it a couple times a summer, but inevitably my wife always ends up with a poison ivy rash.  Her reactions have gotten much worse, and so we're trying to find ways to prevent getting it 3+ times again this year.  Has anyone found anything that has consistently prevented them from getting a terrible rash?  We have her immediately throw clothes in the wash when she's been near it, scalding hot showers, wearing gloves, long sleeves, etc.

phred

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I'm not trying to be arrogant-funny, but can she not recognize it in its natural state and stay away from it?

Anyway, the poison oils (urushiol or something) can penetrate thin clothing.  If you immediately notice the contact wipe the skin area with rubbing alcohol, warm water rinse, then soap & hot water.  Drop the clothes outside so you don't contaminate the house inside.  Make sure bottom of shoes get cleaned

After about 15 minutes elapsed time the poison ivy oils will not wash off.  She would then have to use something like Tecnu to break the chemical bonds.

I'm wondering if any ivy get chopped up when you mow the lawn?  These small pieces, now in the air, may land on her.  Also, some oils may be on you.  Even though they don't bother you, you may be transferring them to her at night.

If the rash is very, very small cover it with a tightly wrapped band-aid.  The band-aid is to prevent spreading by scratching; leave on for a week.  Never ever try to lance open/pop the blisters

I cover my arms and legs with Invisible Glove when hiking.  I've never had poison ivy as a result.  This may be pure luck rather than proof

Good luck

tmac

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I get poison ivy quite badly, so I don't knowingly go near it. But since I still get it anyway, I always keep a tube of Zanfel handy. It has little scratchy bits (ooh, baby!), then numbs it (thank god), and dries it up within a couple of days. It's pricey, but you don't need much (I use a tube or less each year) and it really works.

lizzzi

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Go on poison ivy patrol early in the spring, before it has a chance to take a good hold. Pull it up with disposable vinyl gloves on your hands, and make sure your wrists are covered by your sleeves. (any drug store will carry the gloves), and if you can't pull the demon weed up, spray with an herbicide that will kill the root. If you do this early every year, you should hugely lessen her chances of getting it. As others have said, make sure she can recognize it--it can take somewhat different forms, depending on where you live. (Believe it or not, Ohio poison ivy looks somewhat different from New York poison ivy…but "Leaves of three, let it be!" is still your mantra. I get it badly, too, and practically get hysterical when I see it in the yard. I've caught it from throwing bales of hay that must have had some in there, and I've caught it from our cat brushing me with her poison-ivy contaminated tail. Do not scratch it, no matter that it wakes you up from a sound sleep and the itching practically gives you a seizure. And take showers or baths with the coldest water you can stand. Warmth or heat makes it itch more. If you have access to a cold swimming pool, that will help a lot. Do not put gasoline or bleach on it. (Old wive's remedies.) If by any chance it is on your face and headed for your eyes, you should probably go to an MD and get some prednisone. (It won't stop the itch, but it will slow down and dry up the rash.) I have had P.I. three times in adulthood, worse each time. And back in the forties, it put my mother in the hospital. I think it was colonized on Earth by hostile space aliens. God, do I hate poison ivy.

lizzzi

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And I'm sure you know not to try to burn it, like if you have a lot of it in a brush pile and want to get rid of it. Burning poison ivy fumes spread through the air onto you. I knew two guys brush-hogging who decided to burn big piles of pulled-down poison ivy vines on Nantucket around 20 years ago.  Oh yeah…hospital time. Big-time hospital time.

nereo

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My wife and I live in a more rural area, so poison ivy/oak/sumac always seems to creep up near the edges of our yard.  We spray to kill it a couple times a summer, but inevitably my wife always ends up with a poison ivy rash.  Her reactions have gotten much worse, and so we're trying to find ways to prevent getting it 3+ times again this year.  Has anyone found anything that has consistently prevented them from getting a terrible rash?  We have her immediately throw clothes in the wash when she's been near it, scalding hot showers, wearing gloves, long sleeves, etc.
This brings to mind a curious conversation I had with my neighbors when I lived in California.  They ran a goat farm, and both sold the milk and made cheese from it.  The goats were 'leased out' to people throughout the county to help clear out underbrush (a necessary fire-prevention/reduction strategy in those parts).  The goats would go to town on poison oak and devour it.
Anyhow, they claimed all of their workers stopped reacting to poison oak after a couple of weeks of regularly eating the goat cheese and drinking goat milk.  i have no idea if there's any scientific validity to this "aquired resistance" but these guys came into contact with poison oak on a daily basis.

bikebum

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I'm not familiar with poison ivy, but we have lots of poison oak where I live. This may not be what you are looking for, but it helps me:

The oils are not really that harmful to the human body, some people just react a lot to it. There are some people that are totally immune. It may sound crazy, but I think if you get in some poison ivy/oak and you have a lot of negative thoughts about having a bad reaction, it will get your immune system over-active and you will have a stronger reaction to it. Once I realized this and worked on not worrying about having a flare-up, my reactions to it dropped a lot. Could be a coincidence; people's level of allergic reactions change throughout their lives. I have noticed this same principal seems to work with other things too though: headaches, weird body pains, upset stomach,...

Rural

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The very first step should be rubbing alcohol -- pour a small stream over the exposed area so that it actually runs off (over the sink is good). It will carry much of the oil with it. Then wipe gently with rubbing alcohol, and then wash with soap.


I've never done this experiment, but it seems to me it might be best to do a quick first wash with cool water to remove all the oils you can that way, then use hot water. My thought is the pores open up under hot water, so the oil might penetrate the pores more. Better to have as much gone at that point as possible. I definitely would do the hot water and soap wash, because the hot water will dissolve more oil, but I think I'd do all I could by other means first.


By the way, if she can stand the idea, a good grease-cutting liquid dish soap will work better than, say, a moisturizing body wash. You're trying to remove oil. Personally, I use Palmolive. :)

MayDay

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I am sensitive to it, have been since I was a kid (thanks girl scout camp!). Last year I touched some while camping with no running water, so of course I then spread it all over my body.  All.  Over.

I went to the Dr and got put on prednisone. Didn't touch it. Went back and I got a prednisone shot in the butt, followed by another course of oral prednisone. Thankfully that got it under control. Man it was awful.

frugally

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Thanks everyone for the responses, we'll try out dish soap and rubbing alcohol next time (and I'm especially curious about the invisible glove for preventing it altogether).  She does know how to recognize it very well, that's why we've been so stumped.  I've been doing all the spraying near our fence-line and I did have her stop doing any lawn-mowing as I heard it can be caught airborne as well.

We've had her do a large shot of prednisone, and unfortunately that didn't seem to help. :-/

shusherstache

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2014, 04:59:40 PM »
Frugally, is your wife preparing or dealing with mangoes?  Or do you also have mangos growing in your yard?  I am allergic to both and there is a crossover allergy associated  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mango#Potential_for_contact_dermatitis   Food for thought... I miss mangos.

TomTX

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2014, 08:08:28 PM »
I'm not trying to be arrogant-funny, but can she not recognize it in its natural state and stay away from it?

My dad can't. He ran out of TP on a backpacking trip and used some handy leaves. Most people who react just brush against it - he repeatedly rubbed a series of leaves on sensitive areas.

I'll leave thinking of the extent of consequences as an exercise for the reader.

It was probably even worse than you are thinking.

bogart

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2014, 08:14:22 PM »
I'm also horrifically allergic to the stuff -- the kind of reactions that could be taken as chemical burns.

I've had much better success with doing the opposite of the "usual" recommendation -- well, not frolicking in it (that would be truly opposite), but if I'm somewhere I expect to be exposed, wearing as little clothing as reasonably possible.  I think when I e.g. wear long pants, the oils get into my clothes and then stay on me, whereas if it's just my skin -- apparently that's not as absorbent.  Mind you I haven't tested this systematically, so I could just be wrong. 

I also wash off promptly as soon as possible after exposure, of course.  I've had very good luck with a product named Tecnu, which is available lots of places.  It's basically just denatured (not stinky) mineral oil.  You can read about it on Wikipedia, among other places -- funny (?) story behind it, it was originally developed to "wash" the radiation off you after an atomic blast (it does not work for that!).  I always start (whether using Tecnu or just soap) with cold or just slightly warm water and gradually work up (over several lather-rinse-repeats) to warm/hot; my understanding is it's better to keep your pores closed until you've got all/most of the oil gone.

For outbreaks, I've had good luck with a product called Apinol to relieve the itching.  It's made from pine tree oil and smells like it.

Also, at the risk of stating the obvious, I'm not clear whether your wife is helping with, or close to, the efforts to remove the poison ivy, but she shouldn't be -- these should only be handled by people who don't have known allergies to the stuff.

phred

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2014, 09:07:55 PM »
Poison ivy may change color throughout the year - sometimes green, sometimes red.  Sometimes has berries, sometimes not.  One variety even has thorns along the stem.

There exists a totally harmless plant that also has three leaves.  Since I keep forgetting the minute difference, I try to avoid all.

There is supposedly a natural remedy.  You make a poultice of jewelweed and bind that to the rashy area.  Jewelweed may be frequently found alongside the poison ivy

roddy6667

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2014, 11:13:47 PM »
The only prevention that really works is to learn what the leaves, stems, and vines look like and don't touch them. You should get good enough so that you can jog through thick woods and spot it before you charge through it. This works for me.

Nords

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2014, 11:17:30 PM »
My wife and I live in a more rural area, so poison ivy/oak/sumac always seems to creep up near the edges of our yard.  We spray to kill it a couple times a summer, but inevitably my wife always ends up with a poison ivy rash.  Her reactions have gotten much worse, and so we're trying to find ways to prevent getting it 3+ times again this year.  Has anyone found anything that has consistently prevented them from getting a terrible rash?  We have her immediately throw clothes in the wash when she's been near it, scalding hot showers, wearing gloves, long sleeves, etc.
Well, for starters there's no poison ivy/oak/sumac in Hawaii.  No ticks or Lyme disease either.

I'm hypersensitive to the same plants, and when I used hot water the swelling was even worse.  As other posters have mentioned, it's better to use cold water and Calamine lotion.  If it has Lidocaine in it, so much the better.

In the 1970s I used to take desensitization shots every month or two.  These were a thick oil that had to be refrigerated and slooooooowly injected into your shoulder muscle with a needle the size of a pool cue (only sharper).  Hopefully today's medical tech has made desensitization shots a little less painful, so it's worth talking to an allergy clinic.

phred

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2014, 07:51:55 AM »
You may need to move to a different area.  The Southwest is supposedly poison ivy free.  Of course, they have Hanta virus.

I just read that sensitivity increases with each exposure.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2014, 08:01:40 AM »
Just to add to the doom and gloom - poison ivy has runner roots, so you can think you have killed it and it pops up someplace else from the roots.  It likes a neutral soil, so if you have limestone base you are more likely to have it growing.  I have it growing in the ditch beside the driveway, the rocks for the culvert must be more alkaline than the rest of my soil because it is only there.  Repeated treatment with 20% acetic acid and Roundup last year killed the leaves but not the roots.  I know farmers - i am going to get some serious Roundup this year.  I don't like using herbicides indiscriminately but this is serious warfare going on here.  I am sensitive, haven't had it for years and don't want to.


phred

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2014, 10:47:57 AM »
Just to add to the doom and gloom - poison ivy has runner roots, so you can think you have killed it and it pops up someplace else from the roots.  It likes a neutral soil, so if you have limestone base you are more likely to have it growing.  I have it growing in the ditch beside the driveway, the rocks for the culvert must be more alkaline than the rest of my soil because it is only there.  Repeated treatment with 20% acetic acid and Roundup last year killed the leaves but not the roots.  I know farmers - i am going to get some serious Roundup this year.
There is a HD version of Roundup called 'Roundup for poison ivy'.  If you can find someone to cut down the stems, you may have better luck spraying the Roundup down the cut stems than just on the leaves.  I'm thinking the oil on the leaves acts as a block to the Roundup??? A quick Google tells me Poison ivy likes acidic soil, so your ditch sounds like a great place to dump pounds and pounds of wood ashes.
  While not my favorite method, I'm wondering if dumping leftover winter salt into the ditch will abate the problem?

Rural

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2014, 10:52:49 AM »
Another good option for treatment after exposure (ie: once there's a rash) is a poultice of plantain (the "weed," not the banana). Mash it up until it gets juicy, which takes a couple minutes using the palm of you hand and your thumb or no time at all with a mortar and pestle or a good improvised substitute, or, in a pinch, just chew it into a pulp and slap it on the offending area.


Here's a link with good pictures so you'll know what you're looking for. The instructions are more complex than need be, but they would probably work, too.


http://wraising6kids.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/pickin-plantain-medicinal-weed/

RetiredAt63

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2014, 07:00:47 PM »
I checked this site - http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/shrub/toxspp/all.html - and it is not so much the pH (6 - 7.9 is pretty broad tolerance) as that they like calcium - which of course is high with limestone based soils.  Maybe I should be dumping horticultural lime on it.

I will check out the Roundup for poison ivy and see what the instructions say about absorption.  I basically didn't cut where the poison ivy was last year, I didn't want the oils on my lawn mower and string trimmer.  Of course with all the acetic acid I was spraying, there wasn't a lot of stuff growing there anyway  ;-)

Re the OP, new runner (clonal) growth has pretty small leaves and can happen several feet from the parent plant, so maybe his wife is having contact in places the plants are tiny and not easily visible?  If I were her, I would be really careful about being outside while rough areas are being trimmed.


There is a HD version of Roundup called 'Roundup for poison ivy'.  If you can find someone to cut down the stems, you may have better luck spraying the Roundup down the cut stems than just on the leaves.  I'm thinking the oil on the leaves acts as a block to the Roundup??? A quick Google tells me Poison ivy likes acidic soil, so your ditch sounds like a great place to dump pounds and pounds of wood ashes.
  While not my favorite method, I'm wondering if dumping leftover winter salt into the ditch will abate the problem?

MayDay

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #21 on: May 04, 2014, 07:25:19 PM »
Frugally, is your wife preparing or dealing with mangoes?  Or do you also have mangos growing in your yard?  I am allergic to both and there is a crossover allergy associated  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mango#Potential_for_contact_dermatitis   Food for thought... I miss mangos.

I am allergic to mangoes. I had never heard of that before!

LucyBIT

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #22 on: May 04, 2014, 09:01:39 PM »
It may sound crazy, but I think if you get in some poison ivy/oak and you have a lot of negative thoughts about having a bad reaction, it will get your immune system over-active and you will have a stronger reaction to it. Once I realized this and worked on not worrying about having a flare-up, my reactions to it dropped a lot. Could be a coincidence; people's level of allergic reactions change throughout their lives. I have noticed this same principal seems to work with other things too though: headaches, weird body pains, upset stomach,...

Um, yeah, I'm going to say this is a coincidence. The following story is anecdotal, but then so is yours so I feel comfortable using it as a rebuttal.

I thought I was immune to poison ivy--and maybe I was, for a while; it's true that your level of sensitivity can change throughout your life, for reasons or no reasons. The first time I had a reaction, I was doing an archaeological excavation which was, unbeknownst to us, in an area covered in tiny little poison ivy plants, all growing in the shade of slightly larger plants, and completely unnoticed by any of us at the start of the dig. I started to break out after a week, and others followed, and it took us another three days to find the plants and figure out what it was. My reaction was so severe I ended up in the ER with shortness of breath; my arms and legs swelled up like mad; I was on steroids and forbidden to work for a week.

For all I knew, I was immune to poison ivy, and nobody even saw it before the reactions started, so how could I have been less free of fear and negative thoughts? Not trying to be a jerk, but allergic reactions can be dangerous and encouraging people to go into one with the belief that they can make it go away with their mind is just irresponsible.



For the OP, I will also suggest Tecnu. You can use it on your skin, but also to clean almost anything of the oil, up to and including tools, pets, and clothing. When I was cleaning all the stuff I brought on the dig, I soaked my clothes and backpack in Tecnu, then machine-washed, worked wonders.

For your wife, though, here's another thought: I picked up a poison ivy wash when I was having my severe reaction, and I used it every time I showered. I don't remember the brand, but I got it in the same grocery store aisle as the Tecnu and other such products. It washes off any oil, and also has menthol which feels great on a rash if you've already got one. It might be worth finding something similar for her to just use on a regular basis during poison ivy season. I even used it on my face and it doesn't wreck your skin or anything like that. If she's breaking out a lot, some regular treatment would probably help, but using rubbing alcohol or even Tecnu might be too harsh for every day.

Speaking of menthol, I kept a bottle of the green Gold Bond lotion with menthol next to my bed. It was the only thing that helped when I woke up in the middle of the night with crazy itching.

Incidentally, scratching itself doesn't technically spread the rash--by the time you've broken out, assuming you cleaned off the skin at some point and you're not still being exposed, any oil has been fully absorbed into your skin and isn't hiding out in the blisters--all that's in there is pus. It can appear to be spreading because your skin will absorb different amounts of oil at different rates, especially with prolonged exposure, so rashes will take longer to appear in some places than others. Scratching can make the rash take longer to heal, and cause scarring, but it doesn't spread the reaction.

Frizhand

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2014, 10:59:19 AM »
My neighbor is very allergic to poison ivy. Last year someone told him to rub vodka on his skin after being in the woods/yard and he hasn't had it since.  I've never tried it, so I can't speak from personal experience but he's happy!

You don't need the good stuff, find the cheapest bottle of vodka you can.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2014, 12:19:22 PM »
After I've worked in the yard, I rub Tecnu all over my skin (head to toe, even on skin that was covered with jeans).  Then I hop in the shower. 

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=tecnu+cleanser&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=13010569915&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4016512641159532739&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_4ltt1m9qog_b

I live in VA where PI and PO run rampant.  I'm well familiar with the horrible rash.  I started using Tecnu in 2003 and haven't had a rash since.  One big bottle lasts a whole growing season.  Worth every dime.

phred

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2014, 12:45:33 PM »
  Maybe I should be dumping horticultural lime on it.

What?

phred

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #26 on: May 05, 2014, 12:51:06 PM »
Poison ivy can appear as a plant close to the ground, as a bush or shrub, and as a vine.  Recognizing one form may make you unaware of the other types.
Maybe we could plant kudzu in p.i. areas and let the two fight it out?

RetiredAt63

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #27 on: May 06, 2014, 07:03:26 AM »
You are right, had a brain fart there - it likes calcium, that would be feeding it - my bad.  It would do everything else good, though, my soil is on the acid side.  Time to hunt out the Roundup for poison ivy, I guess.

  Maybe I should be dumping horticultural lime on it.

What?

phred

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #28 on: May 06, 2014, 12:53:25 PM »
I may have exclaimed too soon.  Eastern poison ivy likes it acidic, so lime or wood ashes may be a good idea.  Western poison ivy likes it alkaline so lime would be a bad idea.  However, I wonder if eastern ivy can grow out west and vice-versa

bikebum

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Re: Has anyone found a good solution for preventing poison ivy exposure?
« Reply #29 on: May 14, 2014, 01:45:10 PM »
It may sound crazy, but I think if you get in some poison ivy/oak and you have a lot of negative thoughts about having a bad reaction, it will get your immune system over-active and you will have a stronger reaction to it. Once I realized this and worked on not worrying about having a flare-up, my reactions to it dropped a lot. Could be a coincidence; people's level of allergic reactions change throughout their lives. I have noticed this same principal seems to work with other things too though: headaches, weird body pains, upset stomach,...

Um, yeah, I'm going to say this is a coincidence. The following story is anecdotal, but then so is yours so I feel comfortable using it as a rebuttal.

I thought I was immune to poison ivy--and maybe I was, for a while; it's true that your level of sensitivity can change throughout your life, for reasons or no reasons. The first time I had a reaction, I was doing an archaeological excavation which was, unbeknownst to us, in an area covered in tiny little poison ivy plants, all growing in the shade of slightly larger plants, and completely unnoticed by any of us at the start of the dig. I started to break out after a week, and others followed, and it took us another three days to find the plants and figure out what it was. My reaction was so severe I ended up in the ER with shortness of breath; my arms and legs swelled up like mad; I was on steroids and forbidden to work for a week.

For all I knew, I was immune to poison ivy, and nobody even saw it before the reactions started, so how could I have been less free of fear and negative thoughts? Not trying to be a jerk, but allergic reactions can be dangerous and encouraging people to go into one with the belief that they can make it go away with their mind is just irresponsible.

I didn't encourage anyone to do anything. It's just a story; do what you want with it. :) It is obvious that a person with severe allergies should avoid the allergen.

If you're interested, read about Mind-Body Syndrome. Our minds have strong reactions to lots of otherwise harmless things. Why is that? Is it possible to lessen the effects? I think so. Panic attacks, and crying (water coming out of your eyes, face scrunching up, WTF?) are some good examples of the physical effects thoughts can have on the body.

You may think it's wacko. I probably would if I hadn't experienced it for myself.