“Poison!” Grover yelped. “Don’t let those things touch you or…”
“Or we’ll die?” I guessed.
“Well…after you shrivel slowly to dust, yes.” Rick Riordan, American novelist
There was a time not so long ago when I could pull poison ivy out of the garden with my bare hands. Other than a single bout with the weed in my 20s — in which barefoot dune walking made the soles of my feet hurt more than itch — I seemed impervious.
Then came mid-life. Now, if I so much as brush a leaf, an angry red welt will appear on my skin about a week later. And, it won’t go away. It itches and itches to the point I’ve sought medical attention.
It’s gotten so bad, I’ve taken two courses of action this summer. One, I’m avoiding the garden. I, in fact, suggested to my husband that we destroy a large section and simply start over. I’m thinking flame throwers, wall-to-wall artificial turf and lots and lot of plastic liner and plastic mulch. We could throw in a single, well-mannered plant every five feet or so and call it a day.
He says that’s the histamines talking and refuses to help. At least in that way. Instead, he intends to wait for cooler weather to come this weekend and to himself go out there in enough clothes to enter a radioactive zone. The battle is clearly on.
Having failed on the flame-thrower tack, I’ve also been experimenting with various skin concoctions intended to help with the rash I already have. While safely indoors, I’ve pureed wild plants (jewel weed) and used a variety of OTC skin ointments and foods (mainly oats) known for their skin-calming ability.
Good news! I have finally found something that works. Yogurt. I’ve long used yogurt on my face. (Those alpha-hydroxy potions aging women pay big bucks for start in nature.) It turns out, if I slather on a generous layer of plain yogurt and let it dry, I’m itch free for about eight hours. Long enough to work. Long enough to sleep.
My husband, the science guy who makes our family’s yogurt, is certainly on board with this, as it is yet more evidence that his recipe reigns supreme. “I’d like to see some tutti-frutti, gelatin-loaded supermarket blend cure affliction,” he’s no doubt thinking.
Anyway, the only downside is that I have a chalky, white coating on one ankle at the moment. It’s doesn’t look any worse than the calamine lotion that some kids used to wear all summer I keep telling myself. The truth is, at this point, I don’t even care if it does.
P.S. If anyone has advice on eradicating P.I. in a cottage-style garden (dense, dense plantings) or eliminating P.I. rash, please share!