Okay, so it’s Poison Sumac

Hello, me here! My mil came and got the girls and I’m going stir crazy walking around with every appendage swollen and oozing. Decided to share the joy with you all and document this lovely process with pictures! What a mercy though, that this poisonous process held off pretty much long enough for me to […]

Hello, me here! My mil came and got the girls and I’m going stir crazy walking around with every appendage swollen and oozing. Decided to share the joy with you all and document this lovely process with pictures!

What a mercy though, that this poisonous process held off pretty much long enough for me to enjoy my visit with friends on Monday, because by Monday evening all bets for an easy recovery were OFF! Tuesday morning I was dying (yes, I know it could be a lot worse!) and called the pharmacist to ask him about a couple of products I’d heard could help me out. Zanfel and Technu. Apparently, Zanfel is a great product to quickly get you over poison ivy, etc, but according to the pharmacist, you have to start it right away, as soon as you break out with the rash. So much for that, then. (**EDITED TO ADD: I found out in the comments section below, from someone at the Zanfel laboratories, that Zanfel is proven to be effective at ANY time after outbreak!) Technu is a soap that removes the oils, again, you have to use it pretty much right after exposure. One of my friends recommended Burt’s Bees poison ivy wash…something I think I’m going to have to keep on hand after this…

So the pharmacist told me my only hope this far in the game would be to get a steroid shot. Normally I would tough this out, but my eyes were swollen shut Tuesday morning…everything affected was hot and in pain. With school about to start, I just could not imagine walking around holding my eyelids up with my fingers to see things! Add to that the fact that the pharmacist predicted this could last anywhere from 7 days to a month, and I was about to bawl! So I wasted no time dialing up our medical clinic to see if I could get lined up fast for the shot.

Thankfully I came to my senses. I mean, steroids are serious, have serious side effects…but–whine–I really didn’t care, so I set up an appt for that afternoon. Then I remembered our nutritionist and decided to call and see if she had any magic cures for poison ivy. But she’s on maternity leave, the receptionist reminds me. Within minutes of hanging up the phone, it rings. It’s Dr. T, the nutritionist, calling me from home–her receptionist had passed along my minor emergency. And Dr. T told me she’d meet me at the office at 2 pm and do a poison ivy/sumac treatment on me. And it would only cost $20! Cool! I called and canceled my appointment with the steroids and hoped for the best.

Hubby got home early to drive me to the appointment–trust me, I didn’t even bother to take my glasses along, can’t see anything anyway, right? Walked into Dr. T’s exam room and she first had to determine whether I had poison ivy or poison sumac. I’d told her I wasn’t sure, as I hadn’t seen any poison ivy, and I *do* know what it looks like after having been plagued by it for years and years!!!

Let me remind you that Dr. T is an applied kinesiologist. She determines, through muscle testing, what internal ailments her patients have. We’ve had great success with her before this…so back to the story…

She tested me with the poison ivy that she keeps in the office, and I resisted it with no problem, but when she had me hold a glass canning jar with poison sumac during the muscle testing…I had no strength to resist the muscle pressure… Bingo, guess I have poison sumac. This info was clinched when she asked if I’d pulled any reddish leaves on a vine up during my weeding. Um, yep, sure did. Boy, I wondered what that stuff was. What an unforgettable lesson!

So the desensitization process began. I held the jar of poison sumac to my forehead while she worked on my spine, then I rolled over and she worked on my hands and shoulders…hard to describe what she did, but it all felt great. I admit, I wondered how on earth this could do any good, but I guess we’ll see, huh. I’m supposed to start healing up w/in 24-48 hours of this treatment. By last night my eyes were less swollen, I could open both of them and actually attempt to read emails, my book, etc. (I’m not one that can stand to sleep the day away, and sitting around with my eyes closed was driving me crazy!)

In some ways, I’m worse. It seems like the sores in between all my fingers have gotten worse and are oozing more–and the backs of my thighs look like someone thrashed me with the leaves of this torturous weed. Nighttime is the worst…laying there, only able to sleep on your back b/c of all the sores on your face and arms. A cold wet washcloth is my best friend…I sleep with one draped on my neck and across my eyes, and everything else is slathered with Aveeno’s anti-itch lotion.

So I’ll keep you posted. Hopefully I make a turn for the better sometime today. The good thing is, my attitude has remained hopeful. I know that’s because of all your prayers. When I start to get down, a praise song comes to my mind, or I think about how much worse it could be, and how THIS TOO SHALL PASS!

I tried to get pictures of myself this morning…I think I look worse in real life, but I’ll let you be the judge! I should have taken pics yesterday when I could barely open my eyes, but you can probably get the idea from these…yes, it’s on my lips, feels like a thick callus of dried on food…just contrast that picture to the one in my header…you can see how distorted and swollen my eyes/nose/jawline, etc are. All these pics were taken after a lukewarm oatmeal bath followed by a cold shower…so nothing was actually oozing, which makes it a more palatable picture journey…believe me! Well, enough “poor me”…lol, I’m already planning on coming back to this post in the future when I’m tempted to groan that things are bad…reviewing these pics should put me in a great mood, don’t ya think? Enjoy your smooth skin, folks!

20 replies on “Okay, so it’s Poison Sumac”

Oh Honey. I am soooo sorry. Praising God for your gem of a nutritionist though! I’ll keep praying for your recovery!

OOh Mary Lynn, it looks so painful and uncomfortable. And what is funny is that it looks very similar to what happened to me with my allergic reaction to the “caine” family. Except mine was localized, both times on an arm, first time was the right arm and the second time was the left arm. But you got attacked all over your body!!!! My thoughts and prayers are with you and if you aren’t healing up quickly by 48 hrs. go get that steroid shot because I had to be put on Prednisone which is a steroid and within 24 hrs. it was almost gone, miraculously! Take care!

Mary, it looks like you feel AWFUL!!!!!

I am so sorry, and am praying for a quick and speedy recovery for you!!

Colleen, thank you! My mil really saved the day yesterday, my nerves were shot and the break/quiet house was wonderful.

Thanks, Leticia! I got a 3 hour nap in this afternoon after an uncomfortable night…it felt so good…

Jana, you are a blessing, your phone call brightened my whole day! Bless you right back!

Jessica, yes, so nice to have family members to pick up the slack. It’s been hard knowing that we had such fun plans for today and tomorrow, kicking off the school year. But we’ll just postpone them till Monday! Thanks for praying!

Amy, plantain, really? Boy it would take a lot to fix me up! 😉 The second day into it I found a lot of relief with cucumber slices on my eyes (thankfully I have plenty of them in the garden)…

Jan, I so appreciate your prayers and kind thoughts! I *think* I am on the mend…here’s hoping! The speediness of that steroid shot really sounds tempting though! I may not mess around next time…hopefully there is no NEXT time!

MIn, thanks…I’m trying my best!

Andrea, it is miserable, but another day is almost behind me! Thank you so much for praying for me!

Thank you ALL for your prayers! My right arm is much improved, and it was the worst off yesterday…I haven’t even had to apply anti-itch lotion to it today, and it’s not seeping at all. Now to get my fingers back! I feel like I’m wearing rings on all of them, they’re so swollen and bumpy. Ick!

Oh Mary…I am so sorry you have to go through this. I am so happy to hear you are keeping hope alive. I remeber a trying time when I was preg. with Justin and I developed bells palsey. Half of my face was frozen, and it was painful. I could not blink, so I had to blink with my hand my left eye. I just offered it up as a prayer for the world, and I thought of what Jesus went through on this earth. I trusted God to see me through what ever the outcome, some people never get better, and I was not going to let it mess up my life. I saw my family as the blessings and true riches in my life along with a strong faith in God. It stregthend my marrage, as Steven said he loved me not for my looks, but my inward beauty. (I looked like I had a stroke at the time.) At night the pain was worse, and I did not want to take anything due to my pregnacy. Let God see you through this…and just think of how you will feel to be blessed again with normal skin. Huge hugs to you Mary, and I am keeping you in my prayers. Juli

Oh Juli, how awful. See, I’ve been thinking this whole ordeal that at least it’s temporary, so many people in this world go through much worse with no hope of relief. I’m SO glad your bells palsey was temporary, it sounds like you hung on to hope as well. Taking up your cross, so to speak.

I’m so much better today, and slept fantastic last night, no getting up to reapply itch creams! Today my face isn’t swollen, just blotchy and red as it recovers from the experience. I’m applying aloe vera gel to all the redness, hoping it will hasten the healing process. Nothing itches though! PTL!!!

Thank you for praying!

I hope you’re feeling better. I want to share with you that Zanfel Poison Ivy Wash has been clinically shown to be effective ANYTIME after outbreak of the rash. There is no upper time limit where it is “too late” to use Zanfel.


Dan Boelman RN, BSN
Zanfel Laboratories, Inc.

Thanks, Bethanie! It did seem to work, I’m feeling great today! If it weren’t for my chapped, red spots (aftermath of the rash) you wouldn’t be able to tell I had it…

Wow, I wish the pharmacist had known that! I appreciate so much you setting the record straight! I’ll correct that in my blog ASAP.

Thanks again!


Thank you for your response to my post. I have some information about poison sumac which is not commonly known and may be helpful to you. If you have a few minutes to give me a call, I will be glad to share this with you. I can be reached by calling 1-800-401-4002, menu option one. I hope you’re continuing to heal up and feel better!


Dan Boelman RN, BSN
Zanfel Laboratories, Inc.

Thanks, Dan, I might call you when time allows, I’m sure it will come in handy…hopefully it includes info on getting rid of poison sumac (the plant) forever!

I updated this post with your info! Sure appreciate it…


I am going through the same pain,swelling, and itching of poison sumac. My eyes are also just about swollen shut. Like u said cool compresses, ice, and bathes are our friends at this point. Have tried various things and have had two steroid shots and on steroid pills. I know the pain.

Meme, I’m sorry you had to go through this as well…it’s horrible! Ugh…just looking at these pics again makes me hurt and wonder what I was thinking to subject my friends to such ugliness! 😉

Gina, don’t worry, I survived!!!! 😉

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