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New Ideas for an Old Problem

Oh, the horrible itch, swelling and redness of poison ivy!  Fluid-filled blisters, hives, red lines or streaks can appear. It's a painful price to pay, especially when you didn't even realize you had contact with poison ivy. Unchecked, the suffering can go on for days, thanks to urushiol, the oil that puts the poison in the ivy.

Usually allergic reactions come from direct contact with the poison ivy plant, but secondary exposure can also cause allergic reactions. Secondary exposures come from touching something that was contaminated by urushiol such as pet fur, gardening tools, clothes.

The good news is that there are all-natural remedies to relieve the symptoms. If you realize you've been in contact with poison ivy, wash the area with soap and water as soon as possible. Sometimes breakouts can be avoided if the area is thoroughly cleansed before the poison penetrates the cells, usually within 10 - 15 minutes.  A few people seem to be able to avoid symptoms by washing the exposed area even as late as two to three hours after exposure. However, since reactions may not appear until eight to forty-eight hours after the incident, it's often too late to wash it off if the person doesn't realize he was exposed.

Also wash any clothes that might have had contact with poison ivy, directly or indirectly. Hard surfaces such as tools, handles, counter tops should be wiped with rubbing alcohol if there's any possibility they were exposed. Contamination is not spread person to person because the first person has absorbed all the urushiol.

Symptoms can often be reduced by pressing wet compresses against the rash or soaking in cool water. It is important to trim fingernails and resist the desire to scratch as that can spread the bacteria. Scratching can also lead to infections which can create more severe complications.

Antihistamines, Calamine lotion or corticosteroid lotions can often alleviate some of the allergic reactions. One of the keys to relief is to topically neutralize the acidity of the urushiol that penetrates the skin.

Many people are reporting relief from a recently patented product called Miracle Mist Plus. Although sold only as an all-natural cosmetic and not released yet to make medical claims, Miracle Mist Plus Skin Spray has a 9.0 alkaline pH. It quickly penetrates the cells and depolarizes the nerve pain junctions. Apparently it works by neutralizing the acid environment of the affected area. According to Dr. John Young, the MD who formulated and patented it, once the acidity in any wound bed has been normalized, healing can begin. Initial reports are that it is soothing and effective on many skin issues, including skin reactions to poison ivy.

It must be noted, however, that severe cases of poison ivy should be seen by a physician.  Severe reactions can include swelling of the face, mouth, neck, genitals, eyelids or difficulty breathing or extensive areas of blisters that ooze large amounts of fluid. In those cases, a physician will likely administer a steroid shot for quick relief. Despite the reputed side effects of steroids, severe allergic reactions almost always override those concerns.

The best antidote for poison ivy is to avoid it. If you find it on your property, put on a long sleeved shirt, long pants and vinyl gloves before attempting to remove it. Then take a shower and wash those clothes immediately afterwards. Or just rent a goat to graze in your yard. Goats love to eat poison ivy and it doesn't seem to cause any adverse effects in them.

For more information, call Healthy Life and Times at 800-217-6677.

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