July 9, 2008
Sean, I feel for you. I just got over yet another outbreak. I ended up going to my doctor for the oral steroids. This time I got it, the first places it showed up were near my right eye and, well, let''s just say I probably took a leak shortly after being exposed.
Make sure you wash your hands frequently, and wash all your clothes. You''re probably going to get the rash on other parts of your body. Even with the steroids, you''re looking at probably four weeks of itching. I actually started using Dawn dish detergent in the shower to help break down the oil, and this seemed to work. Try not to scratch, as this just opens up the skin and makes it worse.
Wash all your clothes that you''ve worn since you got it. One time I had a re-lapse from a pair of shorts that didn''t get washed.
I have a buddy who is a dermatologist (Harvard and Duke educated) and this is what he said:
Sounds like typical poison ivy. A few itchy spots occur, very commonly the eyelids on one side and the johnson, then several more appear over a few days. Some of the late spots are from the resin. Others are due to an id reaction, where rash in one spot causes a rash in another for reasons no one understands. Little blisters and lots of itching are both reassuring. The causative chemicals are found in many plants including mango rind and sap (never climb a mango tree), the Japanese lacquer tree, the gingko tree, and cashew shells, which is why you''ve never seen a cashew shell. The resin is very stable so it may have been your work gloves. Museum curators have gotten it off 100-year-old specimens.
No need to take oral steroids *or* see your GP unless you can''t stand the itching. Hydrocortisone and Benadryl are good. Zyrtec probably won''t do much. The antidote for itching is cold. Frozen peas work very well, just break them apart before applying and refreeze as needed. A cold bath also works.