Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ease that Itch: Zanfel Poison Ivy Creme

We're unlucky when it comes to poison ivy, oak, and sumac.

During a river clean-up, I leaned against a thick poison vine and ended up with a looping vine-shaped rash from my right shoulder to my forearm. It was such a 3-dimensional dark red rash that friends though I'd had my arm branded. The marks lasted for months, and I was relieved not to have lasting scars.

Jim reacts even worse than me. A small exposure can rapidly turn to sprawling discomfort. This is a problem in our area where even urban and suburban yards can easily become infested with poisonous weeds. One patch of English ivy in our yard is notorious for harboring poison ivy.

Then Jim found the website for Zanfel. Their claims sounded extreme to the point of improbability; especially after disappointing experiences with water-free after-exposure washes like Technu.

But pricey Zanfel ($38 for a one ounce tube) works as advertised. For well over a year neither Jim nor I has suffered a major poison weed outbreak even though corners of our yard are full of the stuff. Jim (who maintains our yard) has only had a few mild spots after exposure thanks to Zanfel.

We keep a spare tube on hand (though one ounce lasts a surprisingly long time) for the inevitable day when Ranger decides to explore the ivy patch. Zanfel is a smart addition to any first aid kit in poison ivy prone areas and also a good item to include in your camping gear.

Now if only we had a good solution for lurking mosquitoes!


Michael Phillips said...

Based on a lot of summers in swamp's edge north Florida (Pensacola)and ultra-humid southern Indiana, I strongly suggest this four step program for dealing with mosquitos.

1. Don't live in swamp's edge southern florida.

2. Deep Woods Off

3. Empty outdoor standing water features daily or every other day. Permanent or semi-permanent standing water should be seeded with fish or water bugs that eat mosquito larvae or frequently agitated.

4. Keep the grass cut fairly short. Don't ever let it grow long enough to create a humid microclimate near ground level. Mosquitos will hang out at the house of whoever keeps the tallest grass or the wheelbarrel full of rainwater.

Mimi-n-Moe's Mom said...

We use spray that is 7% deet. I am uneasy about the chemical use, but I when weighing the costs I use it. There are some natural alternatives, but there is less study of those....Also, we try to avoid any pooled up water in the yard....

Michael Phillips said...

mimi & moe's mom
I'm not usually a big user of chemical solutions, but in the case of deet I'll make an exception. The incidence of deet related health problems is considerably lower than the incidence of biting arthroppod related health problems.
Personally, I'd apply it as needed and then when it is time to go in, wash the exposed skin if you are worried. I personally apply the peanut test. If a product demonstratably is less likely to injure a randomly selected member of the population than a spoon of peanutbutter, I'm willing to try it. (This might be a bit loose, since the US population has about a 1% rate of peanut allergies, and odds of one in one hundred aren't really all that long.)

Anonymous said...

As a father of five children, we use Zanfel regularly after the mosquitoes have left itchy bite welts on the children. You use Zanfel in a similar fashion as you do for poison ivy, oak or sumac.

Good luck!

Steve Sisler
Zanfel Laboratories, Inc.

adrienne said...

Hi Steve-

That is a tip and a half. Ranger gets huge welts from mosquito bites and we've been looking for something to minimize them.

We'll give it a try and post the results.


Francie said...

After completing my 6-day course of corticosteroids, I'm amazed that my poison ivy hasn't all cleared up. I guess it's time to go pick up some of this Zanfel. Thanks for the recommendation & I'll try to report back after using! :)

Francie said...

Well, I wound up using the knock-off store brand of Zanfel from my local drugstore. It was called "Poison ivy wash" and had a nearly identical box to the Zanfel -- same ingredients, exact same instructions. The generic price was a winner. $26 vs nearly $40 for the tube. I think there's probably one treatment left in the tube, after I used the wash over multiple locations as many as 7 times. I sooo wish I had considered using the wash at the same time as taking the round of prescribed corticosteroids. I will definitely recommend it to anyone I can in the future! Had lots of patches of the thick, "leather-like" contact dermatitis, and some new spots developed even after I finished those prescription meds. But none got as severe since I started the poison ivy wash. And it was such a relief to have a safe technique/treatment to administer 2 or 3 times a day, until the crazy itch went away.
Hooray for the help! Hooray for your shared info, wise friend!!!

Francie said...

Zanfel (or its generic counterpart carried at my local drug store) has been a lifesaver again this summer. I was slow to realize what I thought was just a hive on my chest was actually a patch of poison ivy that has been slowly growing persisting since I last worked on the front yard (two weeks ago). Used the zanfel-stuff on arms and other areas exposed, but did not on my chest. Off to use it again and hopefully knock this pesky patch before long! Thanks again for recommending!!! (I'm on my 3rd tube & have found it well worth the investment!)