September 18th, 2013

Poison Ivy And Hiking


My favourite pastime – by the proverbial country mile – is hiking.

In fact, the week after this item gets published, Phyllis (the woman who has tolerated me for over 44 years mostly because, she says, I make her laugh a lot – at me, not with me, but hey! Whatever works, right?) and I are off for a 9-day hike in the UK.

And in case you’re wondering why I love hiking so much, especially in the UK and France, the answer is simple: the 2 large ciders (in the UK) or the 2 large glasses of wine (in France, bien sur) that I am allowed to have every afternoon as we finally make it into our destination for that day.

The hiking is OK, but the cider and wine? Priceless.

Anyway, that aside, hiking also carries certain obvious risks, most of which I have run into over the years – sprains, strains, scrapes, blisters, rashes, and even the one I want to mention today, poison ivy, which I experienced once because of a side trip I had to make into the bushes (do not try to imagine this).

“Poison ivy” is a rash caused by sensitivity to an oily resin in the poison ivy plant (but also in poison oak and poison sumac).

If you think you have run into poison ivy – and I knew it virtually right away – try to quickly rinse your skin with lukewarm water so as to get some of the resin off, and take off the garments you’re wearing as soon as you can so that you can wash them thoroughly (the resin can stick to clothing).

For the rash, which can be quite itchy and painful, be aware that it will last at least a week (up to 3), and that you really don’t want to scratch it much so applying a soothing over-the-counter lotion is the best way to deal with the often troublesome itching.

Your London Drugs pharmacist can tell you the benefits of each type.

As with any other skin irritation or eruption, though, if there’s any hint that you’re developing an infection, see your doctor right away.

That aside, good hiking!

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