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Working Around Poison Ivy and Poison Oak

Working Around Poison Ivy and Poison Oak

By Dan Boelman, RN, BSN, Zanfel Laboratories
Photograph courtesy of Zanfel Laboratories

Are you surrounded by poison ivy or poison oak in your yard, garden, or at work? Here are some tips for reducing exposures and misery:

1. Plant identification. In the U.S., there are two species of poison ivy and two species of poison oak. The shape of the plants’ leaves can vary widely from one place to the next. Be suspicious of any climbing vine that uses aerial roots to attach to trees. Check out this helpful poison ivy, oak and sumac identification poster:
https://www.zanfel.com/admin/documents/ZAN406-Plant%20ID%20Poster_20150501.pdf

2. Remember that all parts of the plant are toxic. The plants’ toxin, urushiol, is an oil that is found not only in the leaves, but also in the vines, aerial roots, stems, and roots. Running a chainsaw or weedeater through a poison ivy stem or vine can spray your skin and clothing with urushiol, the plants’ rash inducing oil.

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3. It only takes about 60 minutes for urushiol oil to absorb into the skin. If exposure is suspected, wash the exposed skin ASAP with soap and cool water to remove as much unabsorbed urushiol as possible. If it has been more than 60 minutes, the urushiol is already in your skin and “regular soap and water is no longer effective. Zanfel can be used as a post-exposure preventative to remove the urushiol that has already bonded with the skin, thereby either preventing, or greatly reducing the severity of the reaction.

4. Rash treatment. Zanfel is the only product clinically shown to remove urushiol from the skin, anytime after outbreak of the rash. For most mild to moderate reactions, the use of Zanfel completely stops the itching and puts the body in a position to heal the rash.

5. For severe or systemic cases, Zanfel can be used in conjunction with a prescribed steroid medication. This combination provides complete relief for someone who has a severe case, and may reduce the incidence of the “rebound effect” that sometimes happens when the steroid wears off.


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