Sunday, September 03, 2006


"Medium abrasive material on one side and cellulose sponge on the other." Part Itch Reliever and Part Bath Sponge!

I used to mow the yard and trim bushes a lot when I was a stay-at-home mom. But for the last few years, I’ve left that “man work” to my husband and reluctant son. Last week, though, something possessed me, and I trimmed a bush.

A couple of days later, a tiny red bump appeared on my forearm. Then, like houses going up in a subdivision, little bumps formed straight rows with flat streets between. Pretty soon I had bump cul-de-sacs curving around the bump neighborhoods. Then bump schools and public parks started popping up all over the geography. A few days later, I had a grown a university stadium on the backs of my knees and shopping malls on my shins. Since then, I’ve been living in Poison Ivy Land.

I was determined not to let the scourge change my Labor Day weekend plan to go with friends to the Plymouth Blueberry Festival. I went wearing jeans and shirt with sleeves because it was supposed to be cool that day, but it turned out to be a regular old humid, muggy, clammy, summer Indiana day that causes Hoosier women to look down at their moist shirts and recall the movie, “A River Runs Through It.”

Golly gee, sweating can exacerbate poison ivy itching. (Who says I exaggerate? I definitely just understated the misery of salty sweat mingling with oozing open sores.) Every so often, I had to stop and apply the cortisone cream to the ugliest skin you’ve ever seen. I’m sure my friends were just so glad they had me along to gross them out while they ate their elephant ears and blueberry ice cream.

So today I was researching home remedies on the Internet. Ahh, the Internet—embodying the eminence and scope of knowledge once attributed to the great ancient Library of Alexandria (Egypt, not Indiana) and the ignominy of the sleazy backyard compost heap of public wisdom. Al Gore only invented the good parts, though.

According to Al’s imaginative gizmo, here are some options that might cure the blight:

--Soil/Mud. It’s a little like “the hair of the dog that bit ya” therapy. Put soil from around the plant all over you. Hmm. Methinks someone is tryin’ to punk the general public. Pass.

--Scrape wounds with wood/popsicle stick/some other such sharp-edged thing. Many people offered detailed advice on how to rip the surface layer of your skin off so that you can disinfect it. No thanks. I do not live in the Little House on the Prairie when Pa would scrape your poison ivy with tree bark for your own good and lecture you about how your lack of responsibility got you in this mess to begin with. Pass.

--Baking soda paste, flake off, freeze with ice cube until numb, remove, and hold under water as hot as you can stand. Here’s the kicker—you’re NUMB. You can’t feel the scalding water that’s killing the affliction and your epidermis! So it’s a painless cure, for a while, I guess. I hope some ignorant parent doesn’t try this on a child.

--Channel the angel “Karael,” who will tell you if you are too acidic or too alkaline. In this person’s case, Karael told her to eat a lot of cayenne pepper. Omigosh, I felt the healing warmth of Karael’s remedy come right through the monitor as I read that. Pass.

--“I have found that the only thing that helps is sleeping and crying.” Add eating chocolate to that, and you’ve got a multi-purpose cure for poison ivy, PMS and relationship break-ups.

--“Highland Scotch Vodka.” Not on the lesion, but in your system. Again, add chocolate, and you may have a contender.

--Urine. Must be fresh. Must be human, but not necessarily your own. Pi--er, I mean, Pass.

--Gasoline. Thankfully, this one had a disclaimer.

--WD 40.

--Soak 40 pennies in a cup of vinegar for 24 hours. Then rub it on your sores. Great, one of the germiest surfaces in our society mixed with a smelly liquid. Parfum de Easter Egg with a metal tincture. Pass.

--Camphor and Moonshine. Moonshine? I searched “modern moonshine,” as I was not sure where I’d find it if I wanted it. One expert blogged, “Hell, modern moonshine isn't really moonshine. The garbage produced today is made from plain old processed sugar; it is not the corn liquor of the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion.” End of equivocation. Since they just don’t make it like they used to, I’ll pass.

--Hot candle wax. I guess some of these remedies hearken back to the belief that if you cause enough pain one place, you won’t notice discomfort somewhere else. So, we could also try toe amputation or a bikini wax, but I’ll pass.

--My Favorite: Use a 3M Scotch Brite pad to scrub off the top layer of skin, then pour bleach over. Steel wool also works. Well, so would cremation, and it would be less painful.

So out of all these, I would have to choose . . . chocolate, not on the lesions, but in my system. It’s the modern moonshine.

No comments: