Please help! Poison Ivy SOS

mindstormAugust 17, 2007

Hey guys,

Does anyone have a cure or a fix for poison ivy rash? About 2 weekends ago, I was working in the yard (every year, btw, my tale of woe starts precisely the same way. Would that I would remember that fact from year to year!) and apparently did battle with a poison ivy plant. Actually, there is so much crud pouring over from the neighbours' overgrown undergrowth into our yard that I've no idea what the plant looks like OR if it is poison ivy, oak or sumac but it is something absolutely vile. Well, as usual, I came away the worse for wear.

It took about a day or 2 and I had a rash on the back of my left hand and fingers, on my left knee and a spot above my right ankle. Well, the rashes got worse and worse in their spots especially the leg ones and they now look quite inflamed - like I was burned in those areas. The whole side of the knee is generally red and irritated and swollen.

BUT the worse problem is that despite assertions to the contrary, this rash is spreading! About 6 days after my yard foray, I got a rash of red splotches on the other knee. Then it made it all around the two knees. Then two or three days ago, the whole tops of both my thighs and, shortly thereafter, the backs of both my calves became red, itching and irritated. I apply cortisone cream about 4 times a day and at least once or twice a day I get a sudden, bad attack of itching that drives me absolutely nuts (without fail, at about 4:00am in the morning for sure). It comes on suddenly and virulently and the only thing that calms it down is another application of hydrocortisone AND a bout of actually indulging the itch. I wind up slapping my knees, my thighs, the calves, ankles or, if that doesn't help at all, itching the worst spots through my trousers. My legs are SWOLLEN from this wretched thing

My doctor has recommended hydro-cortisone cream in the past and I am on tube number 3 in this second week of poison-ivy hell. Calamine lotion doesn't seem to do much at all. Does anyone have *any* suggestions that they've tried that I can offer? I'll try any potion that anyone suggests. Seriously at my wits end.

The thing that worsens matters - and I would not admit this here except that most of you don't know me and so I can't be embarrassed - is that I cannot razor my legs through this minefield of burns, blisters and delicate, swollen skin I've got. This 10 day old stubble is not helping matters in the itching department. Every night I dream of waxing my legs instead of sleeping normally. Please, if you have any trick to suppressing poison ivy, please, I beg you, do tell me!

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Yikes! Poor thing. First thing is to wash anything that you wore in the garden (including your shoes) and also wash your sheets. The oil from the plant can continue to spread onto you from anything that touched the plant or that you touched after you touched the plant.

Benadryl. Benadryl, benadryl, benadryl. If that doesn't work, go to the doctor's as you may need steroids.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 3:38PM
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You need to go to the doctor and get a cortisone shot - it will start drying it up - and get an RX for a Dosepak. I've had poison ivy more times than I can count....and mine gets oozy. The creams don't help. Oatmeal bathes sort of help but it's short term.

fyi, my grandmother swore Clorox got rid of hers, but I've never been brave enough to put Clorox on my skin! lol

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 4:39PM
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geogirl, Thanks for that tip on benadryl! I'll pick some of that up, stat. I did change the sheets AND did a laundry of my clothes as soon as I realized I had contacted this poisonous thing. I didn't think about the shoes though! How do you wash those?

allison, just my luck that I posted this on Friday - too late to get a shot of cortisone. Good to know that helps. Hopefully the benadryl works else I'll have to make it through the weekend. Yikes on the chlorox. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough either.

I'm trying to avoid the steroidal dose that both of your have mentioned - is that what Dosepak is? I'm recovering from some surgery on my foot and while the surgeon had incidentally mentioned about an Rx for a steroidal prescription when I mentioned the poison ivy to him, he did also say that unfortunately that tends to slow healing. I had about 12 stitches on my foot - and i'd really like for that wound to heal.

It really is very very bad timing for this poison ivy thing. I'm dealing with it simultaneously with this injury on my foot and much travel for work - I've been on two trips that I've already hobbled and itched my way through and I've another one upcoming next week!

Thanks for the benadryl and the oatmeal bath recommendation. Every and anything that helps for however long it helps will be an asset.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 5:56PM
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mindstorm -- try the strongest cortisone cream from the drugstore in addition to the benedryl and ask the druggist if there's something especially good for that.

Household ammonia can help stop itching but the benedryl should help most. If it gets worse by all means go to the emergency room. It can be very uncomfortable and you don't want it near the wound.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 8:11PM
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Surely there's a doc in the box close to you that's open on a Saturday. The shot will start working quickly. I couldn't live without them.

Sounds like you're up and about too soon after surgery! I know two people that had foot surgery last year: one got up too soon and her foot is no better. The other was my mom, who followed doctors orders and took it easy. She couldn't be better. Please take care of your foot!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 9:31PM
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Hey mindstorm - sorry you're feeling so miserable. I have some info for you. First of all, are you using OTC or prescription topical steroids? The prescription ones are much stronger than what you can get OTC, so if you don't have a prescription definitely get one. The issue about the steroids interfering with your healing is somewhat equivocal... you and your doctor may decide whatever minor impact it may have, you are just too uncomfortable and you need them. You don't necessarily need an injection BTW, some dr.s will just start you on oral steroids (and they might just order that for you over the phone). The DosePacks contain a gradually decreasing dose of the oral steroids so that you can taper off. Some physicians don't use them because they think it provides too quick a taper. Regarding the Benadryl - if you decide to try that just remember that this can make people verrry sleeeepy, so plan accordingly. Also, the rash of poison ivy is not really a histaminic reaction (it's an immune reaction mediated by T-cells) so antihistamines like Benadryl don't help all that much. Lastly, do try some cool soaks - they will help at least for the short term.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 10:39PM
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OK, here's the thing that works the best: ZANFEL. It's a washing cream that removes the irritating oils from your skin as they remerge in the fluid that's leaking. Benadryl helps with the symptoms, but ZANFEL gets the urshiol OFF - and that's the quickest way to arrest it.

I believe one can get it at WalMart and up here in NY in the RiteAid drugstores.

Be prepared for serious sticker shock, a tiny tube is $35+ and you may need more than one if the reaction has really spread.

Follow the instructions exactly and you will stop itching in a few minutes. You will have to keep repeating the washing every few hours, at first, but in a day it will start to abate.

About 6 or 7 years ago I got a some PI oil on my legs from where workers were cutting some done with sicklebar. I had no direct contact but the oils were in the air and I had shorts on. I was more sick with the PI than I have ever felt in my life, including bouts of malaria. This stuff saved the day for me.

Call WalMart and Rite Aid and send someone out for it tonight. YOu can also buy it online.

I know I sound like a commercial, (though I have no connection with the company) but if you're suffering like I was then, this is what you need.

ZANFEL - get it! (Last time I was in a RiteAid I saw they had some propriatary things look-alikes to Zanfel, but I wouldn't take the chance if I was really in trouble.

I hope you feel better fast.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2007 at 11:24PM
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I so feel your pain, I've been there and done that more times than I care to remember, I never even go close to our ravine as I never want to itch again. I did have success with 'Tecnu', it's a wash to put on as soon as you suspect you've been in contact and then using it if you do come down with it. I had previously talked to some of our utility co. employees and they said that is what they use if they've been out in the field. I have it in my closet just in case.......I would never be without. My kids all are very susceptible and my DH could wallow in PI and not get it. I just looked at my box again and there are several varieties of it.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 12:01AM
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Hey guys! thanks so very very much for the additional info.

I've been using hydrocortisone-10 which I assumed is the strongest cortisone cream there is seeing as how -10 is bigger than well, nothing! Perhaps I should ask the pharmacist. a 1% cortisone cream is what my doctor had recommended when I went to see her a week ago when this stuff was in its first generation this year - although I mostly went to see her for the foot. It certainly does help curb the itching. You make a very good point about not wanting the rash to approach my wound. That would really bite!

Allison, true there is a hospital very close by. If by tomorrow morning I am still a wild itching, burning mess I will get that cortisone shot. I don't want it to get close to the wound for sure!

You make a good point about the foot. Actually I did the yard expedition a few days before my surgery. I've done a lot of sitting around since the surgery - spent entire days on the same sofa with the foot elevated with the only exercise being the trip to the bathroom! Since then my walking about - although there has been some - has been quite brief. The airports have not been fun though I couldn't help but make the trip. I have another one coming up Sunday that I will have to brace for again. I actually used the wheelchair at the airports! Nobody in their 30s should do that without flinching! I was mortified but you're right, getting adventurously ambulatory is quickly debilitating.

honeyb2, I've only gone with the OTC creams. My doctor didn't prescribe anything when I showed her my rash Friday last week and I didn't think to ask for a prescription. My stuff has not really gotten to the really blistery state except on the few sites where I couldn't help but dig in and itch with abandon. My foot surgery was the second excision of a - *gulp* - cancerous melanoma that I had removed 10 days ago. I did think about the Rx but decided that I'd really like not to do anything to interfere with the recovery from that surgery. Although at this point in time, the cancer is gone, and the recovery is just a matter of the skin and subcutaneous tissues knitting back up, perhaps somewhat illogically I am inclined to give extra weight to it. However, I do agree with you that it must become a matter of balancing the two discomforts.

Interesting about benadryl. I did decide to just take it at night - if nothing else, perhaps I'll sleep through any extreme itch directives at 4:00 in the am. I'll be curious to see if benadryl helps at all. Thanks for that info.

My problem with the washes again goes back to my foot. My worst rashes are on the leg. It is really tough to properly wash your legs without getting the foot wet - and I can't get this wretched foot wet! I meant to get the oatmeal thing which the pharmacist also recommended but forget since it was in a different aisle. I will give the zanfel a shot too. How long after first contact is it reasonable to expect the oil to still stick around? I know I'd showered right after the garden foray but that hasn't prevented this outbreak! I do have the Tecnu Susan209 spoke of although I wasn't sure how well it would help as I only started with it a few days ago, well after the initial exposure.

housekeeping, I've heard from several avenues that the emergent fluid is your own serum and not the aggressive urushoil - that the rashes appear depending upon the amount of the plant oil that was transferred to that site and the sensitivity of the skin there and that it doesn't get into the blister itself. Perhaps the skin at the insides of the knees is more tender and sensitive than the skin on the top of ones thight and the backs of calves? Perhaps that is why those rashes appeared so much before the thigh ones.

Well, I'm going to give the washes a try tomorrow and I hope the benadryl, the cold water towel soak and the HC10 work for this evening. I'd like not to have to wake up in the middle of the night to go through the same mad itchy & scratchy histrionics! If so, *grrrr*.

Thanks so much for the tips. Calamine lotion was the one thing I'd put a lot of stock in but I was surprised to see it did nothing at all for me. I hope one of these shot things or wash things work.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 12:29AM
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The Zanfel won't work if you've gotten oozy (should not scrub those areas anyway). I've used it before it begans to ooze (sorry, gross I know, but mine always ends up this way) and it does help for awhile but doesn't make it go away.

You really need to get a shot. The longer you have poison ivy, the more it can get into your system. I get it bad enough where I can look cleared up, then start scratching in the vicinity (not specifically where I was broken out) a week later and get bumps again.

I was told/have read the first case of poison ivy you get reflects how allergic you will be to PI for the rest of your life. My first case was as a kid playing kick the can. That makes me sound old, but my cousins were visiting and they played it all the time. I must have laid down in it because I had it BAD.

I had it so bad one year, I could see how people could commit suicide - sorry, but it's true. I had been to the doctor, had shots but my legs were covered. It can get in your system in a bad way. I had to wear this ONE dress when I went out. Could not wear pants, etc. Couldn't sleep. It was awful. I was put on a 21 day Dosepak. Needless to say my house was spotless by the time I finished the meds!

I hope you get some relief soon and that it doesn't get any worse.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 11:29AM
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Hi - hope you had a decent night's sleep. Here's the deal with the topical steroid creams. Hydrocortisone is a VERY weak steroid, no matter what percent it is, and that is what is available OTC. If you had only a minor rash when you saw your doc, they might recommend the hydrocortisone, but now that it's spread and is really bothering you they might be more likely to give you a stronger steroidal cream like fluocinonide. Of course there is some chance of systemic absorption of the cream, which could possibly affect your healing - again, a decision with your MD. In terms of getting rid of the urushiol, I think it's probably a little late for that. Lastly, not sure how long you are supposed to be off your foot, but if it's for a few weeks, this thing you can rent was a life-saver for me when I was post-op from my foot surgeries. Also a real conversation-starter when traveling or around the office : - )

Here is a link that might be useful: roll-a-bout

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 1:26PM
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I hope by now you have tried the Zanfel. It can be used over open sores, though it is harsh feeling (like facial scrubbing grains). Sometimes if you've had the reaction for a while it takes several scrubbings over the course of a couple of days to get it all off since it is firmly bound to your skin.

Think about ways you may be re-"infecting" yourself through subsequent contact with fabrics, pets, tools, chairs, the floor etc., These can be cleaned with just soap and hot water. But urushiol binds to human skin and is the very devil to remove, hence the slightly abrasive quality of Zanfel. Occasionally I can get it cleared up with only one scrubbing, but once your skin looks raw, thick or leathery, you'll have to do it multiple times.

But the good news is that even on the first washing, the itching is arrested within a minute or so. And that's such a relief. If it comes back, of course, wash again.

Now, about the other worry you have. I have a very close friend who had melanoma under a thumb nail that went misdiagnosed for years. She has had to have several surgeries on it. I drove her into Boston for the later ones (Brigham and Womens) because the docs in your area are much better than out in here in the wilds of northern NY. Although she has some scarring, she still has all her digit, and she is just fine, as I hope you will be, too.

When you use the Zanfel you do need to do a lot of splashing and rinsing, so just cover the entire dressing over the surgery with a water-proof dressing. In a pinch get that stretch-and-seal-to-itself kind of plastic wrap and wrap it around the area. MY Dh had to have an semi-permanent IV central line implanted in his arm a few years ago, and we kept it clean and dry with that wrap. (It's the kind that makes it's own sealed pouches, I think it's a Glad product.)

I am sorry you're suffering from the PI, but I truly believe Zanfel will work for you almost immediately, so I urge you to give it a try.

Below is the link to the Zanfel site.


Here is a link that might be useful: ZANFEL web site, including product locator

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 4:10PM
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DS is wildly allergic to PI. Times like yours I am thankful our dermatologist lives next door. (other times I wish it were a plastic surgeon or orthopedic, but those are other adventures...)

Dr. Dermo maintains that cortisone does no good ON the skin, for PI. She is cautious with medication, but says cortisone creams simply contain too little of the ingredient to do any good whatsoever and our instructions are to send DS over immediately for a look and a prescription.

Just our 2 cents worth- he obviously has a history. Once he got it at the farm when he stood downwind of a controlled burn- apparently included a thatch of PI. The wind carried the vaporized oils- who'd believe that?

Hope you feel better soon- it's such misery!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 8:21PM
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If you are not getting around well this isn't going to help but I got almost instant relief from PI by going to the beach. There was something about the salty water that leeched the fluid out of the blisters and the sun dried it up. You're probably not wanting to parade around in a bathing suit right now but frankly I'd run across the sand naked if I thought it would relieve the itching.

Good luck. I feel bad for you. I go nuts when I get one blister.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 9:42PM
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My apologies for not getting back to all of you for what worked last night but the reason is part of the cure! :-) I took the benadryl last night and applied the hydrocortisone cream. One benadryl tablet. Well, I don't think I itched at all last night - if I did, it certainly didn't wake me up! Actually not much did. That benadryl's strong stuff! I didn't bother with the non-drowsy formulations because I was going to take it at night.

Didn't do very much about it today either - didn't even dive for the hydrocortisone cream in the morning the way I have previous mornings. I still didn't itch. Although I SLEPT. Woke up late, and really about all I did was to look out a couple of times at the progress of the guys finishing replacing the water lines and building our stone wall, and watched Colin Firth, er that is to say, Pride and Prejudice for a short bit and dozed off part way through from sheer - edification ;-)

I don't know if the reason is that this is getting to the end of that 14 week interval and so the wild crazy phase is suddenly over or if benadryl is just that good. Up till yesterday morning it was still insanely wild but today - very relaxed.

I did use both the tecnu and the zanfel when I showered because I had the beginnings of an itch close to *gulp* the surgery wound. Hopefully it is because of the brace I've been wearing around the ankle but I decided to go defensive and used both the two washes and the hydrocortisone.

I am a bit surprised to read that the consensus is that hydrocortisone is not effective. While it certainly does not bring instant relief when the spots were at the worst itching - which it did with clockwork regularity every few hours - it did help at times almost immediately and it then kept the itching at bay for several hours. There were times of the day however, when it simply did not seem to work. That was the funny thing about this poison ivy rash - the fact that I could go from entirely having forgotten about having a rash to being on fire from wanting to itch - instantly! if I hadn't put the HC cream on in a while. So I did have to reapply - and often! as I've gone through multiple tubes of this stuff. I don't think the cream does anything at all to speed up the recovery but I think it does eventually calm down the burning ... eventually.

However, I know now to shoot for the cortisone shot early in the cycle the next time this hits.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 11:30PM
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honeyb, the doctor told me to "go easy" with using the foot but didn't suggest keeping off it altogether. In fact, the key precautions he gave me were because I am an otherwise active person and he didn't want me getting careless with the foot. I am finding on my own, however, that walking about quickly makes the foot painful and swollen (doc recommended kept keeping foot raised) so am trying to keep off it. They did say however that I should try to walk normally because inside of a week of hopping about and walking with a stick my gait had gone to pot. So, I infer that limited amount of normal walking is okay. That roll-about does look cool though. It would be good at the airport tomorrow, had I seen this in time!

Molly I'm sorry about your friend. How is her finger now? I'm glad she didn't lose the tip. I've seen some of these under the nail melanomas and they looked scary. Mine was not anything I suspected would be one - it was just sort of a big freckle on my ankle. Turns out it was cancerous. Thanks for the good wishes - I still need to go through a full body scan to see what other fun adventures await. Strangely, I was sure even a week ago that this cancer excision post-op was the most horrible and painful thing in the world. After this past week, battling the poison ivy woes head to head with the other, well, I'm really not sure which one gets top billing for that dubious distinction - carving up your body with a sharp instrument or with a blunt one(s).

dedtired, thanks for the suggestion, but I think my days of running naked on a sunny beach are over ;-) by just under a month.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 12:03AM
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A few years ago my dh got poison ivy going down our hillside at our old house to retrieve a basketball. The funniest part was (or so I thought) was that he went to the bathroom before he realized what had happened. So the rash was on his arms, and, well...

He actually went to the ER.

I still laugh about this. I know I'm going to be struck down by lightening for it. The dr. gave him a prescription version of benadryl, a topical cream (I forget what), and a bath solution that he said really helped. Dermosol or something? If forget.

He was better in a couple of days.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 5:26AM
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Molly Brown

The plant 'Jewelweed' is supposed to be wonderful for poison ivy. Here's a little video about this interesting plant. You may have some around somewhere...

Here is a link that might be useful: jewelweed/ remedy for poison ivy

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 1:02PM
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I had my worst case of poison ivy while I was at a botany field camp (yah, can you just picture me "oh, professor, what is this 3 leaved shiny plant?" as I use it to whack mosquitoes off my entire body).

Well one of the old guys that helped with caretaking at the camp told me and a fellow infected student to go into the shower and run the hottest water we could stand onto it. We did and it was the closest thing to ecstasy I had experienced prior to meeting DH. It feels like you are scratching it right down to the core. And best of all it keeps the itch away for an hour or two. The other patient had the same results.

I have tried to get friends and relatives to try this when they have had it but everyone just rolls thier eyes at me like I'm a quack. But it really does work. Honest.

Don't forget benadryl comes as a cream as well. Did your Dr. warn you about the effects of hydrocortisone on your skin? It can be very damaging (think burn scars) if used in large amounts.

You have my extreme sympathy. Hope it clears soon.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 11:31PM
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Mindstorm--So was your "freckle" classified as melanoma? Wow, smart girl for getting this checked out. What made you decide to get it looked at?

My 26 yr old dd is plagued by lots of small freckles and moles of her chest and back and worships the sun. She scares me to death. I wish I could convince her to stay out of the sun.

Please keep us up on things. Sounds like you caught this early, not?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 11:18AM
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Sorry to hear about your surgery, but happy to hear they caught it early. This all reminds me I need to get myself and DH to a dermatologist for a skin check.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 3:17PM
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Usually a lurker here but I'll post since I have a terrible reaction to poison ivy. What works for me is a topical prescription corticosteroid called Temovate. I've done the shots/dosepak routine, along with oral and spray on Benadryl and tried Zanfel but Temovate seems to be the best at drying up the rash, preventing it from spreading and cutting the itch. Like any other allergic reaction, I think different meds work better on some folks than others and Temovate makes the difference for me. YMMV.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 4:07PM
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budge1, The doctor may have warned me about HC creams ... don't recall. At the time I was mostly listening for what was best to use and that's it. However, I have since been wondering what too much use of the cream can do which is why when I posted I indicated a bit of concern that I'd waded my way through three tubes! of the stuff. I do have awful red scarring now but went through a burn stage too although I must say I attributed it to the poison ivy itself. It does seem to have ameliorated now - no blisters and barely any itching! What a tremendous concept not to be burning from the inside out! :-)

blsdgal, yes my "freckle" was a melanoma. I didn't suspect it at all, but my doctor happened to catch sight of it at my annual physical last year and told me to see a dermatologist for it asap. I thought she was just being an alarmist and put off going to one until this July. Well, surprise! Also, while I'd heard the general alarms about melanoma, I never really did dig deep enough or pay close enough attention to understand that this is a cancer - and the dangerous skin cancer to boot. As a doctor who I had to see while my doc was out and who has enviable bedside manners put it to me none too delicately: "what is there to say to you? It is the most dangerous form of [skin] cancer there is. Make an appointment to do the full excision asap.". Gee, thanks for the details, doc.

Must say that although I took decent precautions in the sense that I use sunscreen on my face and neck, I figured I only really needed to worry about the more delicate parts of the body. I'm an active person and as its hard to go hiking or to do 30-40 mile bike rides after sunset, I was routinely outside during the day. I'm going to have to have a think about how to indulge my passions while protecting myself. Maybe get up at 4:00am to go on those bike rides in what is left of the summer? Well, after I can stand to put some weight on my foot again. This is the one thing about this cancer stuff: even the final excision which biopsied all clean, no residual cancer cells, is extremely painful. I've never gone through anything where even 13 days after the surgery, the wound is still painful and delicate. (So poison ivy on top of all that was so unfunny, you have no idea). Although, I will say that I think mine may be more uncomfortable and debilitating because it is right at a joint - think of the ankle joint right at the base of the shin bone - and therefore can't bear to take any weight OR to stand any deflections. And, being at an extremity, much slower to heal than otherwise. So three times the fun.

Anyhow, that was all a very long winded way of saying that you should get your daughter in to see a doctor. It will all likely be precautionary, but better to get into the habit than have to deal with it for real!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 6:12PM
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If it is not too personal, may I ask how old you are? I am glad your doctor gave you a good swift kick in the pants. I wish my dd would find a doctor like that. I am a medical professional, but you know dds do not like to listen to their own mothers.

DD is an athlete (runs marathons) and her boyfriend does the swimming, biking, running thing (can't remember what it's called)-- lots of sun exposure for both.

I will be thinking of you and you have a chance now to do a lot of preaching about sun exposure.

Any more tests or has everything already come back clean?

Thinking of you.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 4:14PM
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"...her boyfriend does the swimming, biking, running thing (can't remember what it's called)..."

Triathalon. My neighbors do that. Crazy people. The wife is a wrinkled mess. I don't have any wrinkles - the fat stretches them out. ;)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 10:43PM
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mindstorm -- how's it going? Didn't know about the surgery but glad it's over for you.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 8:56AM
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blsdgal, Yes, consider me reformed. I am 38 years old and from the sounds of things getting close to the right age for melanomas to be surfacing. From what I've read, familial proclivity and sun exposure at a young age is what tends to stack the deck against you. Although, I'd spent my childhood in the UK, I spent a lot of my youth in Hong Kong, Australia, and India. Can't really keep out of the sun too easily there. Anyhow, there is a distribution by age range when melanomas are getting detected - 40-60 or 45-55 being the most popular but 20-40 is up there too. Personally, I suspect that most problems start getting in that 40-55 age range because chances are that people start seeing the doctor most regularly in that age range too.

If your daughter is active, no harm getting started early. Hear it from me - the first mole removal is easy. In other words, if you can get anomalous skin patterns caught and removed early before it develops into a full fledged melanoma - you're golden. It is a little hole, a few stitches, a little bit of discomfort for a few days and you're home clean. You just need to be careful that the stitches don't pop but not much more. Once the problem spot becomes a melanoma, well, it is much deeper - this despite that mine was considered a very thin melanoma - the wound is bigger, the surgery is deeper, the recovery is long, and it is painful nonstop.

So you're right blsdgal, I am going to evangelize on this issue.

Of course, if you let the melanoma go, it can metastasize into a cancer anywhere - the lymph node being the first and next point of vulnerability.

Get it done girls - get it done soon.

Sue36 and Rococogurl thanks for the good word. Hope you're all doing well.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 3:16PM
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Thanks mindstorm. I am going to print this thread for dd and let her read it. While I am at it, I am going to ask her to let me make her a dermatology appointment to give her a good look see.

Again, thanks.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 5:23PM
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I will concur on the hot water solution...I get poison ivy at least every summer (going through bout number 2 right now) and nothing stops the itching better for me than a really HOT shower (or just really hot water from the sink if it's on my arms).

Oh, and I've done the bleach (kind of worked)...and vinegar (eh) and alcohol. But the hot water is my favorite!


    Bookmark   August 27, 2007 at 12:17PM
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If you are working outside and think you have come in to contact with PI or any suspicious vines, use rubbing alcohol to freely wash your skin asap. I just take the bottle into the shower with me and rinse my arms and legs well and then shower. Upon getting out of the shower I use a cotton ball saturated in alcohol and wipe my hands and arms again. This cuts the irritating oils from your skin. Works as well as the technu soap does and is about 20x cheaper! This is strictly to PREVENT the rash from developing. Once the rash is present.... well, good luck, you will probably need the RX! You can also use the alcohol to wipe down your tools, handles, etc. I have not been infected with PI since using this method the past couple years! Margie

    Bookmark   September 9, 2007 at 2:39PM
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mindstorm, I just happened to read this whole thread...GLAD to hear you finally listened to the voice of reason.

I've had three early melanomas taken off me---two back in NC, one here. This last one was the deepest--two sets of stitches--inner, which I guess melt away, and outer which I just take out myself. I was told that if I'd waited a year later to go to the doc for the first ones, I wouldn't have been there to go to the doc...which sounds like it was almost your situation too. This bugger moves FAST.

The scary part is that the worst, most recent one didn't look like a traditional melanoma at all--I happened to be in the dermatologist here for something else completely (I got complacent after a few false alarms), and she said let's check, given your history. I said "this thing for some reason gives me pause", and she said "doesn't look dangerous but let's just biopsy it now and see, just to be on the safe side, since you have a gut feeling." She called me the *next day* and cancelled her vacation to do the followup surgery.

I'm a little melanoma tree and will continue to be so for the rest of my life, I'm afraid.

Re the recovery discomfort: one big one I had was on my back--and DD was at the age where she wanted to be lifted up and carried constantly...I have a HUGE fibroid-looking scar there from all the rips and rehealings that would happen every time I'd have to reach down and pull her up. UGH just remembering it. I call it my Mommy Scar.

And takeaway for moms: I've read that there are children the age of *8* who are getting diagnosed now. The sun effects are just different from what they were when we were young.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 1:17AM
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FYI--Yesterday I was talking to a physician friend and he shared some interesting info re: melanoma. Seems to be a lot of melanoma diagnosed lately that doesn't seem to be sun exposure related. Quite odd. So now, in addition to the sun exposure areas of our bodies, we also need to be vigilant in checking the areas of our bodies (and our loved ones body's) that are not exposed to sunlight.

He had a 17 yr old girl recently diagnosed with melanoma in an area of her body that had always been covered from sun exposure. He suggested that anyone with lots of moles (like my oldest dd) take high quality close up pics of those moles to have baseline pics for future comparison to assess changes.

red lover (formerly blsdgal)

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 1:55PM
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