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It’s that time of year again. We’re only halfway through April, and I have my first poison ivy rash of the year. Actually, I have two—one on each of my wrists!
I’m *aggressively* allergic to poison ivy and have been all my life. There have even been a few times I was forced to go to the emergency room for a steroid shot because I had huge rashes all over my body. These days, I’m vigilant about washing my hands and arms thoroughly after doing any kind of yard work, but I still often get small patches here and there throughout the summer.
Given that I’ve been battling poison ivy as long as I can remember, it should come as no surprise that I’ve tried virtually every poison ivy treatment available. Many work OK, but there’s one poison ivy medicine that’s way better than all the rest.
The Best Poison Ivy Treatment Is…
If you think you’ve been exposed to poison ivy or spy a rash popping up, go to your nearest pharmacy ASAP and buy a tube of Zanfel.
The Good Stuff
- Stops itching quickly
- Dries out rash
- Easy and mess-free to use
- Only requires a few applications
The Bad Stuff
- Small bottle
I’ve tried dozens of different poison ivy medications, and Zanfel is by far the most effective at relieving the itching and stopping the rash from getting worse. It comes in a little tube (no, seriously, the tube is tiny), and you use the paste to create a lather that you rub onto the rash. It works extremely quickly to stop the itching, and it dries up the rash, as well.
Why is it so much more effective than other poison ivy treatments? According to the product’s website, “Zanfel removes urushiol, the oil in poison ivy that binds to the skin and produces the symptoms of itching, redness, and swelling. Zanfel surrounds and removes the toxin from the dermal layers so that the body may immediately begin healing, and will no longer attack itself.”
I won’t pretend that I understand the science behind the product, but I can promise you that it works. Both myself and my father, who also gets poison ivy badly, keep tubes of Zanfel around all summer long, and we both swear by it! If you have a really bad case of poison ivy, you may need to use Zanfel a few times to get all the oils out, but I’ve only ever needed to apply three or four applications, max. It’s basically the closest thing you’ll find to getting rid of poison ivy overnight!
The one major downside to Zanfel is that it is pricey. A 1-ounce tube costs anywhere from $40 to $50, depending on where you buy it, and you use quite a bit of the product with each treatment. However, when your entire arm is a fiery, itchy mess, the expensive is worth it.
Other Tips for Treating Poison Ivy
Take an Anti-Inflammatory
Many people reach for allergy medication to try to quell their poison ivy rashes, but I’ve found that anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen are more effective at reducing the itching. Weird, but I swear it works.
Poison ivy rashes are like mosquito bites: The more you scratch, the itchier it will feel. If you can resist the urge to scratch the rash, the itchiness will subside. (I know this from years of experience.)
Wrap It Up
If your poison ivy is in a spot where your clothing rubs against it, I recommend wrapping up the rash to keep the friction from making it itch. (This also helps to soak up the liquid that often oozes out of the bubbles.) You can use medical gauze, but I frequently just cut up old socks to wear on my arms and legs. That way, I can just toss the sock in the wash and use it again.
Change Your Sheets
This won’t necessarily help with the itching, but it’s essential to prevent you from getting more poison ivy. The oil that causes poison ivy can linger on your clothing and sheets, and if your skin comes in contact with those oils, you can essentially reinfect yourself. So be sure to change your linens once you see a rash forming and wash any clothing you’ve worn in the past few days.
Do you have any tips or tricks for treating poison ivy? Leave them in the comments below!