29 April 2008

A mild case of the bubonic plague poison ivy


This slightly gross looking and itchy bubo blister and the smaller ones around it appeared between the middle and ring fingers of my right hand over the last weekend. There is another cluster like that on the side of my right toe and a line of them on the lower surface of my left arm.

I must have brushed against some poison ivy during my recent trips to the C&O Canal (stories here and here). I do remember seeing, and ignoring, some small poison ivy plants while taking pictures. I have no idea how the poison (urushiol) of the poison ivy went thru my shoe and sock and ended up between my toes. Benadryl cream seems to help relieve the itching.

If the Black Death don't come knocking, I am expecting full recovery within a week or so.

I took the above picture while holding and operating the camera in my left hand. First, I didn't think I could do it, but it ended up being not too difficult.

Incidentally, according to this article, there were 13 human plague cases in the United States in 2006.


Snail said...


Hope it subsides soon.

George said...

I have a similar reaction to poison ivy: contact on my ankle can result in blisters on my arms and legs. I don't know if the urushiol is migrating in the bloodstream, or my immune system is just freaking out, or what. I've found that "Corti-cool" a gel with hydrocortisone, and Burt's Bees poison ivy soap both give some relief, though the latter has a strong pine tar smell.


George, thanks for the recommendations. I'll keep them in mind. I think I've seen Burt's products at Whole Foods.

Anonymous said...

if all contaminants are cleaned of the original urushiol, then your reactions are systemic. the rash itself does not "travel" by contact with the rash itself. my body has what i can only describe as a massive panic alert to poison oak; my rashes take over large areas of skin and have raised bumps that resemble second degree burn blisters.

mint has a unique way of "tricking" the skin into responding to stimuli that isn't there, such as goosebumping when nothing cold is present. it also helps with positive responses to urushiol reactions. i apply undiluted dr. bronner's peppermint soap to my rashes and let it dry. it helps with the itch as well as ceasing further reaction, although it still takes time for all to heal.

prior to that the only other medications that helped were steroid treatments---i can't remember what kind---or a product called zanfel. zanfel has little granules you rub into your skin while showering. it sounds grotesque, but it's heaven. and the maddening itch is gone for good. residual itch will continue, but it's bearable, and the blisters will begin to scab over and dry up. one tube generally does the trick even in bad cases. oddly the active ingredient is spermicide.

zanfel is $40 an ounce, and worth every penny, but because sometimes i don't have the pennies i go for the bronner's first, which is $10 a quart:) the zanfel is for a last resort.

p.s. i love the outdoors, but after a year of near constant infection, i find sometimes the best cure is to stay above 3,500 feet, where poison oak tends not to fare well.

Andria said...

I've got exactly the same thing on the inside of my right thigh, and I'm sure it's the bubonic plague. It just hasn't turned black and burst yet.

Adam Clark said...

That actually looks a lot like Pomphylix otherwise known as disthydrotic eczema. its not actually an eczema, its more to do with the immune system. Anti fungals will strangely enough provide temporary relief. probably placebo related. The only way to properly deal with it it topical steroids. It is brought on by stress and prolonged warmth and moisture.

Just sayin :D