Monday, October 31, 2016

Poison Ivy

My terrible, horrible poison ivy experience. 

We are renting our house because as a military family we move every three or so years. The yards were in a horrible state when we moved in and we have mowed and raked leaves each year, but haven't done any landscaping because that stuff is expensive! But the front yard was getting embarrassing with the overgrown trees. So I went out and clipped a lot of the saplings and tore up the weeds. I came inside and my legs other slightly and I wondered if maybe I had come in contact with poison ivy. I showered and didn't itch much so didn't worry. 

Day 2-8: more rash appeared on my left leg, right leg, and left arm. It was very itchy but wasn't splotchy at all so I thought it may be chigger bites. I used Lavendar and tea tree essential oils for the itch and to keep it clean. I bought camomile spray to help the itching. Blisters appeared on the largest bumps and I determined it was poison ivy and not chiggers.
Day 9-10: left leg swelled on my calf and knee. I walked with a limp and had constant pain. I read swelling is normal for poison ivy so I still didn't worry. I iced the swollen areas and tried to keep my leg elevated. Blisters began to weep and I did not try to open them. I wore bandaids to catch the fluid and to keep myself from scratching.
Day 11: leg is so swollen I could not straighten it without significant pain. The blisters had grown and a large portion of my left leg was pink and warm to the touch. I went to the walk-in clinic and the NP immediately said it's really bad. I got a steroid shot at the office and she prescribed a steroid pack for 6 days, an anti-histamine for 7 days, an anti-biotic for 10 days, and a steroid cream. She thought it may have been wise for me to go to the ER for IV meds, but as I have an 8-week-old baby we held off on that so I could continue to breastfeed. I checked multiple online medical and lactation webpages to ensure all the meds I was using were safe while breastfeeding. That evening the pain in my leg lessened but I couldn't see much difference.

Day 12: the swelling lessened minimally but the pink area darkened. Blisters had grown. I spent most of the day with the leg elevated and iced. The ice helped with the pain, swelling, and itching. I also used aloe Vera gel on the leg in addition to the steroid cream. My left arm spots had grown and become very itchy. More minor spots appeared on the backs on my knees.
Day 13: swelling went down significantly, but not back to normal size. Left leg now had large dark purple area with several large blisters inside. The skin between the blisters was very bumpy and rough. It did not hurt to touch and the leg was not sensitive. Blisters became very full of fluid again. New spots appeared on my right leg. Spots appeared on both feet and right foot was swollen and very itchy. I drew a line around the purple area to ensure it was not growing. I sent pictures to my dad and the worries were sepsis or cellulitis, but I did not have a fever or dizziness. 

Day 14: left arm was more inflamed, but did not itch as much as before. Left leg was back to normal size, color appeared to have lessened slightly to a dark red. Red area had not grown, but I scratched around the area and that increased pink patches around the red area. I began to use regular lotion on my legs and arm to heal the cracked, dry skin to help with the itch.
Day 15: red area had lightened in color slightly. The lower blisters on the left leg had almost entirely dried up and were scabbing over. The top blisters were about half dried up. The skin between the blisters was much more smooth as the rough bumps were going away. I think the regular lotion worked so much better than aloe to keep the skin hydrated. Left arm had pink splotches around all the bumps, but the bumps were scabbed over. The right leg had some red splotches around the most minor spots I had from the beginning. This area is very itchy still. 

Day 17: last day of steroid pill and anti-histamine pills. Entire left leg was still redder than right leg, but wasn't as bright. Scabs on left leg started to fall off- one blister on left knee still had a little fluid. Spots on both legs that appeared after 14 days were more red, but small- like a bug bite. Left arm was just dry, red skin with no blisters or scabs. Hardly any itch, but some 2-3x a day on ankles or feet or the backs of thighs.
Day 20: all the scabs had fallen off. Skin is still red and rough. 

Day 29 (below picture): skin felt super smooth but still looks discolored. The last scabbed areas to heal were extra dry. Hoping that the dark spots will lighten before next summer, but I may have scars. 

Around Day 42: mild rash appeared on legs and arm where previously affected. I know there was no re-contamination, but the rashes were itchy. There was no swelling or new blisters. Reading online, this happens often in severe reactions, but Dr.s say there cannot be new breakouts without touching the plant oil again. 

Day 57: all new rash has healed. Skin feel super smooth where the blisters had been. The skin that was not directly affected is very dry and lotion doesn't seem to help much. There are still dark patches of skin where the poison ivy was, but it appears to be slowly lightening. 

This has been the most annoying and uncomfortable physical malady of mine to date. It was scary when my leg was so swollen and it has looked terrible. I am so thankful it is over and I never want to touch poison ivy again! A little boy in my Cubbies class had poison ivy and I just started itching even though he couldn't spread it to me. 

I hope I remember what if looks like and how to treat it quickly if I do come I contact with the oil. 

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