Monday, September 15, 2014

Poison Ivy

I am in the midst of my worst case of Poison Ivy, ever.

I rarely get Poison Ivy because I am usually pretty attuned to the plant species around me.  Also, I rarely go batting about the bush at night in a state of undress.

Diagnosing the problem

There are many skin rashes that can afflict people.  While Poison Ivy (Oak/Sumac) are the most common rashes acquired by outdoorsy people there are other afflictions that can cause similar symptoms.

Earlier this summer Mrs ERJ was in the garden weeding.  Then, over the course of three weeks she broke out into a rash over extensive portions of her body.  The uniform shape of the rashes (many irregular patches between size of quarters and fifty cent pieces) and their locations (fairly uniform, all over) was not consistent with Poison Ivy.  It was eventually narrowed down to an extreme reaction to mosquito bites.  There are approximately 60 species of mosquitoes in Michigan.  One of them violently disagrees with Mrs ERJ.

My rash started out across the entire back of my left hand.  Then it rolled around to the inside of my left wrist.  Various other, random body parts show the rash.  This morning the inside of my right forearm has the rash.  Certainly not "epic" by Poison Ivy standards but big, and growing, by my personal standards.

Mrs ERJ has been watching my malady with interest but not concern.  I think she is resigned to not getting a premium price for my remains when she finally has to haul me to the salvage yard.

Where is it coming from?

Epidemiology is a form of sleuthing.  Do you enjoy Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes?  Then you might have the stuff to be an Epidemiologist.

The first set of questions revolve around "changes".  You did not have it before.  You have it now.  What changed in that time interval?

Pertinent to this discussion

Add forty pounds, thirty years and more body hair and this guy could be me.
  • The weather changed (40 degree Fahrenheit nights) and I rotated some warmer shirts into active service.  My quilted flannel shirt is a possible carrier of the urushiol, the active agent in Poison Ivy.

  • Mrs ERJ and I are walking every morning.  Our usual walk is around the block...about three miles.  We alternate taking the two German Shepherds, Zeus and Hercules.  When a vehicle approaches, we lead them off the road and have them SIT in the roadside vegetation.  I like petting the dogs.  German Shepherds are a very vocal breed of dogs.  I think they are talking.  They think I am listening. Zeus, the darker dog, really loves having his chest scratched and his tummy rubbed.  That makes him the most likely one to have transferred the urushiol to my hands and forearms.
  • I weeded the ERJ willow plantation a few days ago.  There is poison ivy there.  I know I came close to the Poison Ivy with my left hand but do not remember coming close to the Poison Ivy with my right. I don't think this is a likely cause because the pattern would be patchier and more localized.

The Plan

The first thing I do in the morning is slather 1% hydrocortisone cream on every portion of my body that is itchy and bumpy.  Cortisone cream is good stuff.  Back-in-the-day you needed a prescription to get it but it is now available over-the-counter.

The heavy shirts are in the washing machine.  I am washing them with hot water and a goodly amount of detergent.

I will offer Kubota $5 to give Zeus a bath after Kubota comes home from school.  I will suggest that he wear a swim suit while giving Zeus a bath, for obvious reasons.  He might decide that he does not need to do that.  And in a few days he might decide that I am not as dumb as I look.  Fifteen year olds!  Sigh!

1 comment:

  1. Ouch... NOT fun, and the one bout of that I had was also from a Shepherd. He chased a rabbit into the brush...