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WASHING YOUR CLOTHES

Upon arriving home, dump your clothing and your dog in the washing machine first thing. Actually, if you just wipe your dog with a cloth soaked with alcohol, he/she won't kick up as much of a fuss. If, heaven forbid, you take a shower first and emerge sparkling clean, pull on disposable vinyl (not latex) gloves before dealing with your clothes. Every household should have a box of gloves. Lacking these, use chopsticks to move your clothing if you have to, but do not touch the fabric.

Lets say you think your shirt is contaminated and it's a pullover. While tugging it over your head—your face and hair will be smeared with allergenic oil. The answer is simple. Put another shirt on over the one you're wearing. Pull the two off together and slam dunk both into the washing machine.

Hot water and lots of strong laundry detergent is recommended. Heat breaks up oil molecules, assisting soap to emulsify them. I like to add limonene, a nontoxic, powerful oil remover made from pressing orange peels. Natural foods stores carry these products diluted as household cleansers, but I bought the pure stuff online and now add a splash in my washing machine.

Albert Kligman, a tireless researcher in the 1950s, conducted a few experiments with clothing he rubbed with poison ivy leaves. One important conclusion was "Sap (actually resin) contaminated clothing was rendered harmless after washing in an automatic washer."

DANGEROUS OLD-TIME MEDICAL REMEDIES

I suppose I need to include the generic "Don't do this at home" statement, or some idiot will claim—while being wheeled into the hospital—that he/she saw sulphuric acid or some such remedy recommended in my book.

Various folk remedies for the itch started popping up soon after the colonists hit the coast in the early 1600s. Native Americans used local plants, and herbalists were coming up with suggestions.

By the late 1700s not much progress was made by the medical profession—although they were giving it their best shot.

One of the first substances used by physicians as serious medical treatment of poison ivy dermatitis was mercuric chloride (highly poisonous), with the hope that "by its corrosive action on the skin, the poison would be thrown off the affected area." In the 1920s, many of these same chemicals were still being used. My hair is standing on end as I write.

Shortly after exposure, to prevent penetration of the "poison" into the skin, strong solvents were encouraged: ether, chloroform, toluene (severe brain damage from inhaling, death), turpentine (ditto), benzene (ditto) and glacial acetic acid (corrosive).

In 1863, physician Francis Porcher, in all seriousness, wrote that a good accepted remedy was cold applications of acetate of lead. Bloodletting was an option, and opium was mentioned.

I can visualize his patients: a group of pale opium addicts dying of lead poisoning wandering the streets at night.







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