Poison Oak Treatment :: Zanfel Ingredients

I have used the product Zanfel once before for a bad case of poison oak. You can read my previous article. But what is in Zanfel that makes it work?

You can find the list of ingredients on the product packaging and also by searching the web. But, the specific active ingredient that does all the magic appears missing. The website notes that “U.S. and Foreign Patents Pending” so they probably don’t need to give away the secret just yet.

So, I decided to look into the known ingredients to see what I could find.

Western Poison Oak Photo Gallery (click to view)
Western Poison Oak Photo Gallery (click to view)

Listed below are the ingredients as found on the Zanfel packaging.

Looking at this list leads me to believe that Zanfel is simply a cleanser. Similar to Tecnu. Of specific interest are the ingredients Quaternium-15 and Triethanolamine. These are both known irritants and may cause allergic reactions!
So, before using this product, be sure to follow any precautions and also to read through the ingredients. Note, the descriptions below are from my own quick sleuthing. They may or may not be correct. Let me know if you have corrections.


Zanfel Ingredients

  • Polyethylene Granules – Used to help active ingredients penetrate better when applied.
  • Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate – A weak anionic detergent (foaming/wetting agent).
  • Nonoxynol-9 – Commonly used as a spermicide. But, also widely used as a biocide (disinfectant) in cosmetics, baby wipes, detergents and other products.
  • C12-15 Pareth-9 – Typically used as sole detergent in highly alkaline laundry liquids and cleaning formulations.
  • Disodium EDTA – (Disodium Ethylene–Diamine–Tetra–Acetate) Anionic Surfactant. A sodium salt of a mild organic acid and helps the system resist bacterial spoilage.
  • Quaternium-15 – From http://www.dermnetnz.org/dna.acd/q-15.html Quaternium-15 is a formaldehyde-releasing preservative used in many cosmetics and pharmaceutical preparations. NOTE: Quaternium-15 may cause an allergic reaction with people that are either sensitive to formaldehyde or have a specific sensitivity. The reaction is normally a contact dermatitis.
  • Carbomer 2% – Found in many hair and lotion products. Possibly a polymer and used as a thickening ingredient.
  • Triethanolamine –
    From http://ntp-server.niehs.nih.gov/htdocs/IT-studies/imm90005.html Triethanolamine, produced along with mono- and diethanolamine by ammonolysis of ethylene oxide, is used in many cosmetics, fatty acid soaps, household detergents and emulsions, wood scouring, and as a water repellent in textiles. U. S. production and sales for 1989 was estimated to be 72 x 108 lb. Although triethanolamine is a skin, eye, and mucous membrane irritant, no information could be found on its sensitizing potential.
    From http://physchem.ox.ac.uk/MSDS/TR/triethanolamine.html May be harmful by inhalation, ingestion or through skin absorption. Chronic exposure may lead to liver and kidney damage. Skin irritant – may cause dermatitis.
    From http://umbbd.ahc.umn.edu/tea/tea_map.html Over 1.2 billion pounds of triethanolamine are produced annually in the United States. Triethanolamine is widely used as an ingredient in emulsifiers, thickeners, wetting agents, detergents, and alkalinizing agents in cosmetic products; as a chemical intermediate for anionic and nonionic surfactants and surface active agents in household cleaning agents, textiles, herbicides, pharmaceutical ointments, and other products; as a vulcanization accelerator in the manufacture of rubber; and in many other industrial applications.The National Cancer Institute nominated triethanolamine for study because of its widespread use in cosmetics and other consumer products, its high potential for worker exposure due to its many industrial uses, and its potential for conversion to the carcinogen N-nitrosodiethanolamine.
  • Water – Our friend H2O!

That’s all folks! 🙂

194 responses

  1. Eleanor Avatar

    They did take it back as per their word for anyone interested.

  2. Eleanor Avatar

    I just tried the lovely expensive Z and I wasn’t too impressed. Yes, it felt good, but then it burned. I could deal with that if it helped since my right leg was being rapidly covered. But it didn’t help much. Within a short time I was itching horrible again. I am now on steroid unfortunately as I went through everything else and I was starting to have throat scratchiness. It was/is bad. But the pred is doing wonders. The reason for my post though is when hubby bought the Z for me yesterday at CVS, they told him if I tried it and it didn’t work, that they would refund. I am taking it back tomorrow to see if they will make good on that offer.

  3. Jason Z Avatar
    Jason Z

    I Tried Zanfeltwo days ago and it woorked very well for me. In the past I’ve had very severe poison oak. Once my faced swelled, my eyes closed and I looked like the elephant man. I just broke out 4 days ago on my face and neck. I Decided to try Zanfel before heading to the Doctors office. I am pleased to report the Zanfel worked as advertised, no doctor visit and no prednisone this time. Has any one tried the “mean Green” hand cleaner? I was told that the inventor of Zanfel actually used to be a distributor of the mean green hand cleaner…..

  4. Betsy Avatar

    Very helpful site — thank you! There are some very creative, if desperate, sufferers out there. I am a week into a medium case of PI on hands, stomach & legs — no idea what I touched although I was bushwhacking last weekend. I have found that running very hot water over the blisters (be careful not to scald yourself) is extremely effective for me at stopping the itch for about 4-5 hours, though I still have the horrid red streaks and giant blisters. After reading all the posts, it sounds like some sort of exfoliant scrub (the various formulas are hilarious) is what works for many. Not having apricot scrub at hand, I just took toothpaste and mixed it up with some ground up aspirin tablets (one person said that thesalicylic acid acts as a topical exfoliant) and gently scrubbed some test areas for about a minute, then rinsed with plenty of hot water. So far the results are good — the areas are not itchy at all and the blisters seem to be drying up. I will update if anything dramatic happens. Good luck to everyone and thanks for the advice (and entertainment)!

  5. Jeff Avatar

    I don’t think zanfel has an ‘active’ ingredient. I believe every ingredient listed is all that’s in it. There is no ‘magic’ to it. As you know urushiols are oils and insoluble in water. Zenfel’s ingredients are pretty much all surfactants, detergents, and soaps. Well what does soap do? It attaches to the non-polar oil molecules and polar water molecules, making the oils soluble by forming an emulsion. Note that the last step in applying the zanfel is to thoroughly wash off all of the zanfel. I think that you’re simply washing off the oils with the zanfel detergent. I’ve been paying $30 for a 1 oz tube of soap.

  6. jenjen Avatar

    great thread!
    I decided to try the hot water treatment (had a mild case already 3 weeks old, and thought if it went wrong it wouldn’t kill me!)
    WOW what a good result – feels like scratching while the hot water runs on it, and then sfterwards no itching for the rest of the day/night, and a big improvement in how the scabs were looking – much more normal than the raised, scaly scabs before.
    Maybe getting the blood flow, and the deep hydration of the hot water?
    Spoke to a friend who gets great relief from a hair dryer, so I don’t know if the water is necessary or not.
    when you realise you have the rash coming, start sleeping in long sleeved/legged pajamas. Even with Tecnu washing, I’ve found that I get mirror rashes where affected skin touches other skin (knee to knee or arm to belly) so full pajamas reduces risk of further spread.
    purchase alcohol swabs (the little sachets they use before injections) you can buy boxes of them at pharmacies, keep them with you throughout the day for temporary relief. It’s cooling and feels like the alcohol disolves/draws out any of oils/toxins the skin is pushing out… whatever it is it calms the itching well and seems to reduce spread.

  7. Robert Wessel Avatar
    Robert Wessel

    my wife boiled up a poultice of local Manzanita leaves and bark, comphrey and jewelweed . It is an old remedy from the local Pomo indians. Leave the hot poultice on the effected skin for fifteen minutes. It is amazingly soothing. One thing that i have found that stops the itching is Sonne’s No.7 detox which is mechanically active
    colloidal bentonite normally used internally for fasting but it coats the rash and stops the itching for a few hours. Zanfel sounds incredibly toxic and too expensive.

  8. Rose Avatar

    Thanks for this site. At least I had a few laughs while waiting for the clinic to open.
    I am one of those people that have a severe systemic reaction to poison ivy, sumac, and oak. If I get the tiniest exposure, I break out all over my body over the course of a week. However, it usually takes a few days for the first evidence to appear. Usually I think it’s a few mosquito bites at first, until the tell-tale tingling itch starts.
    I went to the doctor this morning and showed him the scattered individual blisters on one forearm, knees, behind the knees, neck, chin, ears, etc. and he said, “I’m not sure if that’s poison ivy…” Then I showed him a line of blisters on the other elbow and he said, “now that looks like it.”
    It was weird, wondering if he’d believe me when I said that in about 48 hours, the blisters would join into massive, thick, swollen, dripping leper-flesh, I would be unrecognizable and that I needed a steroid pack.
    He suggested a depo-medrol shot instead, saying that it would last 21 days and be easier on my liver. I agreed. That was about 4 hours ago and I’ve begun to break out on my back, stomach, and chest.
    I hope it starts to work soon.
    I’ve been using an old bottle of Technu to repeatedly wash the early outbreaks and as long as I do it every two hours or so…it seems to help the itching. The Zanfel feels good while I’m rubbing it in, but it breaks the blisters and I end up itching just as much under the gauze as it oozes. It’s hard to to scream.
    If there is a hell, it’s not a burning lake of fire. It’s a swimming pool full of urushiol.

  9. Julianna Avatar

    Thank you Hans for this wonderful thread and I would like to offer an update on my condition should anyone else stumble upon this series of comments. I am now 12 days into my first poison oak episode and must say that I am becoming very discouraged. I have been on prednisone since day 3 of exposure (when I first noticed the rash) and have been to my concerned doctor 4 times since that first visit. I am now on 60 mg prednisone and have undergone a series of blood tests to rule out any other medical/immune/inflammation issues. My blood work came back perfectly normal with the exception of high WBC (white blood cell count) due to the prednisone. I am STILL getting new whelps on my thighs and stomach. It is interesting that these new areas are only where my forearms (initial outbreak) have touched. If this is systemic, why am I not getting outbreaks on my back or calves or other areas? My new outbreaks are in direct correlation with where my blistered forearms could have touched. I now wish I had slept those first 5 nights with light pajamas instead of in my underwear. I really believe that the blisters are contagious to other parts of one’s body (I don’t think that other’s will get it touching the blisters, just the host).
    Zanfel did absolutely nothing for me. I even did experiments on new outbreaks to see if the healing was any different and I can honestly say that the Zanfel had absolutely no effect on my poison oak.
    The hot shower spray and blow dryer have probably given me the most relief but I also question whether this has lead to the spread of the new areas.
    Sarna cream is pleasant although has no effect on healing. My doctor wanted me to dry out the rash and Calagel is effective in giving relief and drying the oozing blisters and does provide some comfort.
    All in all, I think that time is what heals in severe cases. I read somewhere that the best and most effective treatment is to go buy the best bag of pot you can find and stay high until it runs it’s course. I do wish I smoked pot, I’d try it.
    I had no idea that poison oak was like this and I truly feel for anyone who is left to google for relief.
    Here are pictures of my progression for anyone interested:

  10. Julianna Avatar

    Wow Hans! It looks like you started this thread in 2003 and you are still getting comments. I am very thankful for this post and all of the comments. I think I have spent most of the afternoon reading everything I can about this horrible affliction.
    This is my first experience with poison oak/ivy and I am astonished at how disgusting and painful and miserable I am at the moment. I was playing golf 4 days ago and went to fetch a ball in a barren shrub just off the cart path (San Juan Oaks is now called San Juan Poison Oaks as far as I am concerned!).
    I went to the doctor when I first realized what I had and he gave me a prednisone RX of 40mg for 5 days – reading online, I am now questioning this dosage but I will deal with that in the next few days if my oozing blisters are still actively festering.
    My husband doesn’t believe that the blisters are not contagious and has not kissed me in 4 days (I have a very impressive blister fester between my upper lip and nose – ATTRACTIVE!). Most of my infestation is on my forearms and honestly, I don’t think that my skin can handle much more pressure from the fluid filled blisters on top of blisters.
    I have tried everything and am only 4 days into my bout – well, I haven’t tried the contraceptive foam but that may be purchased tomorrow.
    I bought the generic Zanfel at RiteAid and other than my skin being REALLY dry after two treatments, I am not noticing anything. Honestly, the Sarna lotion is the only slight relief that I get for a limited time. It feels cool and takes the itch away for a couple of hours. I don’t seem to be getting too many new blister clusters so am hopeful that I am going through the worst of it right now. From now on, if I hear of anyone with poison oak or ivy, I will be tremendously sympathetic. I had no idea that it was like this.
    The pharmacist at RiteAid told me I should see my doctor and get steroids after looking at my forearms, I told him that I have been on steroids for 3 days and then he said for me to get benadryl. I did get a nice sleep in this afternoon after taking the benadryl so I suppose that was good advice.
    The hot water also feels good but is only temporary for me – I also wonder if it makes my blisters fester more afterwards because of the dilation.
    Thank you for this thread and I really appreciate the opportunity to read all of the advice from so many people.
    I hope I never have the occasion to research this topic ever again in my life.

  11. ted Avatar

    The best way I’ve found to control poison oak once the rash is forming or is about to form, is with a vinegar compress.
    I use paper towels soaked with vinegar (any type vinegar will do) and apply to the affected area. Apply pressure if possible, as long as possible, over 2 or 3 days. It will sting a little, but it’s worth it.
    The area will turn red and be swollen, but it will neutralize the oils and keep it from oozing and spreading. Then it just takes some time for the rash scars to heal.

  12. Charles Avatar

    I was working in the yard around (actually two days before) Thanksgiving 2007 and was pulling roots and weeds out of the ground. It was warm, I was sweating a lot, must have rubbed my eyes and nose because that’s where the PO/PI landed.
    Currently about 13 days into this and I can’t say I’m “out of the woods” yet, so to speak. The rash(es) are still at nearly peak and I’m still very uncomfortable and disfigured facially around the nose and eyes. The only “Remedy” I’ve tried so far is regular Technu. The Technu seems to help somewhat in that the redness seems to diminish after about 24 hours but the odd thing is that I seem to be having rebounds. What I mean is that in the mirror, the redness calms down a bit but NOT the itching and scaliness. My skin feels super dry.
    But, the same areas will get worse again, then better again and so forth.
    So, after using regular Technu for two days, all I can say is the the rash is not as RED….but the itching and burning is just as bad. Which somewhat confuses me as I would have thought that if the redness decreases, the itching, and burning would also. I will say that the OOZING has dried up somewhat also so I can say there HAS been a little improvement from the Technu.
    SInce it was $6.00, I’m not disappointed.
    Today I’m going to buy “TechnuExtreme” because they say it “binds” better to the molecules of the PO/PI better. We’ll see.
    I also think it’s important for people to remember that everyone is different. Similar maybe, but different. So One person’s experience doesn’t necessarily mean your will be the same with the exact same treatment.
    One thing I can say, if you have a spouse or significant other suffering from this, it is a VERY bad thing and causes not only sever discomfort, but loss of sleep and degrades general well-being….Which can lead to irritability. Try to have extra patience with a PI/PO/PS sufferer.
    I’ll comment tomorrow or in a few days about my results with TechNu Extreme.

  13. Jeanne Barnett Avatar

    We just moved to a 6.5 acre property in the country – kind of an early retirement, after 53 years in cities and the place was loaded with PI, PO and PS. My first case of PI sent me to the Internet and the name jewelweed kept turning up. We happen to have this plant growing around our pond. I tried it in various forms, such as a mash applied like a poultice, a tincture in a jar with witch hazel and alcohol, and as a bath additive just by taking the plant in the bath with me, breaking the stems and letting the sap go directly on the breakouts. It all helped to a degree and I got several hours of itch relief from my home concoctions, though, so that was good, but I went to the Internet again and found a company that makes salve, spray and soap from jewelweed and it wasn’t expensive so I ordered the ‘kit’. The spray is used as a preventive (spray on before going into the weeds) and the soap is just a great soap generally, but also claims to remove the oils after exposure, and I think it does for minor exposure. The salve is also a great herbal-sweet smelling moisturizing product – and I just love it on my face! Seriously, I really love the products and I spent weeks of working in my yard believing in these products as the miracle antidote for PI. Then a week or so ago we went into a thicket just loaded with PI and PO with a hedge-trimmer and I got a HUGE dose of airborne urushiol on both of my forearms, and some on my chest, neck, ears and back. The only place I didn’t get it was on my legs, but I was wearing heavy denim overalls. And you see, I was very careful to not actually TOUCH the plants, but when you damage them like with the hedge trimmer, they release their evil into the air and you can absolutely get it that way. My beloved jewelweed products did not protect me from such an exposure, and about 36 hours after the battle in the thicket, I began to break out horribly on all the above mentioned areas, mostly on my forearms so in desperation on Day 3, with weeping blister bubbles fairly coating both of my entire swollen arms, I broke down and bought the CVS version of zanfel. I noticed immediate improvement. Day 4, I still had to keep the weeping blisters wrapped, but they looked like they were going to dry up at some point in the near future and the spreading seemed to have stopped. The evening of Day 4 I went to CVS for another tube (theirs doesn’t last long either) and they were SOLD OUT!! AHHH! I screamed in the store. As bad as this PI was, I still just couldn’t do the $40 bucks for the real Zanfel, so I took the advice I had read before on this very website about making it yourself and I walked around and bought a vaginal spermicidal foam (kid behind counter looked at me a little funny as I am years past needing that particular product), anyway, bought the spermicide, the St. Ives Apricot Scrub and a generic, oil-free foaming cleanser (also CVS brand). Came home and after shooting spermicide on the bathroom ceiling (never actually used the stuff in my youth) I figured out how to get a measured applicator dose into a cup, mixed it with the scrub and the cleanser, only about a full tablespoon of each, got over the heebie jeebies of what this mixture contained and scrubbed my patches with it. It felt just as good as the CVS zanfel — actually smelled a little better — and I was grinning all over because it cost next to nothing in comparison. I rinsed with superhot water which in and of itself is an exquisitely itch-relieving treatment, and went to bed, itch free, with a smile on my face. I did wrap my arms that night just in case the oozing continued, but woke up the next day with an amazing and noticeable improvement. Bear in mind this is only Day 5. The entire day my arm just continued to dry up steadily, I took two more showers throughout the day when the itching was bothersome, both times using my spermicide mix, and by Day 6, the entire PI process had stopped. No more weeping, all the rash was drying and scabbing over beautifully and NOT itching. I’d have to say that the nonoxynol has to be the magic ingredient. I had tried all other methods before throughout my life (even though PI exposure was limited in my old neighborhoods, there were still occasions – like the time I got it from nuzzling the family cat) but I had tried bleach, baking soda, blah blah blah, and I say, use jewelweed for minor exposures, but Honey, if you really get dosed with PI, go for the spermicide and nevermind the kid behind the counter!

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    I’ve been exposed to PI and PO all my life as a child. I can’t remember a spring I didn’t get it. Mom was quick to wash it off of me immediately. It’s true that if you wash it off with just plain water, as soon as you’ve touched it, the water will dilute the oils immediately. The problem is you also have to make sure you get your hands as well as the side of your leg, where you may have brushed up against it, or your foot or whatever. Most people are so busy panicking that they tend to forget their hands. Well, a week ago I wasn’t sure if I had brushed up against some PO or not, figured I probably hadn’t and didn’t think much about it after that. The next morning I was less than thrilled to find a very large patch of it on my left and right arms. With blisters on top of blisters, the size of dimes, to boot. Oh yeah…this was PO alright. And it was spreading like wild fire. I decided to take matters into my own hands and pop all the blisters and SCRUB my arms in *COLD* (NEVER USE HOT WATER!!! IT OPENS PORES!!!) water with bleach (That’s the way I was told to do it. Part water Part Bleach) and afterward pour rubbing alcohol on the area. The bleach doesn’t hurt but MAN THE ALCOHOL DOES!! Well, that worked well for a small time. The bleach kills any bacteria and dilutes most of the PO and the alcohol stops the itching IMMEDIATELY and dries the area out. However, it also kills all the oils on your skin, that are there to PROTECT your skin to help fight the dreaded monster and help you heal. I wasn’t told that part until *after the fact*. But anyway…something was definitely different. I was told that within 2 days the PO or PI would be dried up and gone but it was still spreading. I couldn’t understand what was happening. Before I knew it it was day 6, it had spread all over me and my arms had swelled almost to the size of my legs and my face looked like Will Smiths did on the movie “Hitch” when he ate that shell fish. I rushed myself to the E.R. only to be told I had apparently developed a severe allergy to PO later in life (it’s been 20 years since my last “brush”, if you will, with this monstrous crap) and they gave me prednisone, with a prescription for a weeks worth and promised me I’d be a whole new woman by morning. Now, mind you…I’m 35 years old. 5′ 1″, 112#. The fact that my arms were the size of my LEGS made me rather skeptical to hearing “you’ll be a whole new woman by morning”…OK?!? But sure enough, the next morning, my arms WERE back to normal and 70% of the PO was gone. By day 2 80% was gone and now I am on day 3 and I dare say that if I could just stop scratching that last 20% I’d have the rest of it gone by tomorrow. But I think I rather enjoy scratching that last little bit. It almost feels like revenge. lol.
    My advice? If you have insurance or have the means to which you can get to a physician and you can handle steroids…go get them. The doctor, in the ER, told me that this was Gods way of warning me never to be exposed to this stuff again. Had it gone into my mouth somehow (lets face it, we pick our teeth, put our fingers in our mouth, etc…) or my lungs, it would have been a matter of minutes before I would have suffocated, once it had really started to grow in there. I’m NOT saying that that’s going to happen to anyone else. But are you sure you want to take that risk? I know I never will again. I was instructed to come to the Emergency Room IMMEDIATELY the moment I saw even a single spot growing on me, if I’m exposed to any of the PI family again and let them know I have a severe allergy to the stuff so that I can be started on prednisone right away. I never had a reaction like that before, not even once and I’ve had PO and PI MANY MANY times! But out of no where, all of a sudden I have a severe allergy that could cost me my life and I’m told that it’s perfectly normal to develop allergies later in life rather than at a younger age. The bottom line is this and I’d like to say that **I AM NOT TRYING TO SCARE ANYONE OR TRYING TO CAUSE MASS HYSTERIA OR WORRY ANYONE SO PLEASE DON’T THINK THAT** But, If you find yourself swelling up or the PI or PO or PS that you’ve been exposed to is spreading at a rapid pace or just anything out of the ordinary or unusual happening (not just the usual bumps that itch and keep you up at night)…GO TO YOUR HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY! It is not worth waiting for a miracle cream to do the job. Your loved ones will thank you.

  15. Terry Avatar

    Photos: http://www.geocities.com/tjelcick/leg.html
    The photos are of a case of poison oak I caught a few years ago after helping a friend at his property up in the Sierras. It started as a very small spot on the inside of my wrist where I apparently pulled my glove up and touched my wrist. That night I slept in my van in my sleeping bag and had my wrist between my knees curled up for warmth. Bad idea.
    At one point I had four Maxi-Pads (which I bought in the mega pack) strapped with gauze to each inner thigh which became soaked like a wet baby’s diaper and had to be replaced every hour. The band-aid was the result of a biopsy. Doctors had not seen anything like it. It lasted four months.
    Since that time I head straight to the doctor for a shot and pills. The most effective: 80mg of DEPOMEDROL worked overnight. Don’t know if my eyesight has been affected by steroids or not.
    I have spent over $1K in OTC meds (including the Z and Tecnu)and doctor visits in the past year for four cases of poison oak.
    After advise from an old friend who was a nurse I currently use bleach after contact. I soak a white washcloth with the stuff and wipe my entire body. This is something you want to do with pleanty of fresh air as I damn near asphyxiated my self doing it in a small shower stall. I then wash with Fels Naptha soap. So far so good. Haven’t had to make a doctor visit.
    Understand, bleach is bad stuff and can kill you. I only use it because I’m desperate and assume it may be less lethal than steroids. I had a series of Anthrax shots while in the military years back just prior to that bad case in the photos and feel it may have something to do with the fact poison oak goes systemic with me so easily.

  16. m.vitkay Avatar

    I had poison ivy for 40 days. I learned that if you breakout
    on day 3, you most likely will continue to breakout on day 25.
    Day 2 my rash started on the wrists, then quickly moved to my
    beltline, my whole abdomen, shins and ankles,thighs and
    then my face. What an experience!
    On day 14, I went to the doctor for a six-day Prednisone Pack.
    I tried this because my feet were starting to swell. The Prednisone reversed the swelling and minimized breakouts. Also
    helpful are long-acting antihistamines such as Benadryl or Allegra. My doctor prescribed 24-hour Allegra so I could sleep
    through the night without itches. I also used Aveeno products.
    I liked Aveeno calamine and pramoxine Anti-Itch Cream. It contains oatmeal too. The small tube is easy to carry for itch
    attacks. I carried CVS alcohol prep pads(individually wrapped)
    with me too for itches.
    Since my body accumulated a lot of histamine by late eveing, for 3a.m. spot itch attacks, I tried Dawn for Dishes in dabs,
    and it worked to stop the itching. I also used CVS disposable
    bed pads, because I grew tired of washing my fitted bed sheets
    each morning! This saved me some time anyway.
    Long sleeves, pants and garden gloves DID NOT protect me from
    poison ivy when I picked up and bagged some hedge clippings. The plant oil is clear, heavy and SOAKS right through your clothes. If you are perspiring at all, you won’t notice it on
    your gloves or clothes. Just, avoid contacting this plant. Control it with Round-Up Spray. Dead twigs and roots will still
    cause the rash, if you contact them. Dead dried out stems still
    rooted in soil might very well be a poison ivy bush.
    If you have to use household pantry items to control your rash, avoid all manner of cleaners that might burn your skin or cause you liver troubles or even cancer. Use natural items like oatmeal, baking soda and salt as scubs. I used Zanfel and the CVS version of it Poison Ivy Scrub. These felt soothing and gave about 5 hour itch relief. Zanfel did seem to make my skin redder at times.
    This whole episode cost me $500 and I became quite self-absorbed for several weeks. Hope you can avoid this ordeal!

  17. Diane Blankenship Avatar
    Diane Blankenship

    I have been trying to find some place that I could post my comments about Zanfel. I have had numerous cases of poison ivy during my 54 years on this earth. I usually stay away from any weeds, etc. But a few weeks ago, I was picking tomatoes and corn in my garden and I got one of the worst cases of poison ivy I haver ever had. I awoke the next day with it every where. You see, I was in my bathing suit as I worked away in the August heat. I went to the doctor although he will usually call me in a prescription but my eyes were swollen, etc. I got the usual prescription and a variety of itch creams and went home to suffer. I did buy Zanfel as I had read about it on the internet. There it was in the store, the cost $34.00. But I was desperate. I couldn’t believe how wonderfully it worked. I immediately stopped itching. After 8 hours, I felt a little itchy so I reapplied the Zanfel. Not only did it get rid of the itching but the blisters disappeared. This was going to be one of the worst cases of poison ivy I had ever had. It was on the palms of my hands, over most of my body, on my face, in my ears, etc. I have told everyone about my experience with Zanfel–friends, my doctor, the pharmasist. It was the best $34 I ever spent. In fact, I bought another tube just to have on hand in case I ever become brain dead again and get in weeds. Thanks so much for letting me tell my story.
    Diane Blankenship

  18. Barbara Avatar

    Chopped weeds beyond ditch on Sat. with a weed whacker. Started itching on lower legs on Sun. evening. Red welts appeared on Mon. Used baking soda to relieve itching. Made it bearable. Called Dr. on Wed. Told me to get benadryl for itch and the nurse practitioner could see me Fri. She said she hoped it wasn’t poison sumac and the poison can go deep. Got a prescription for predisone and triamcinolone cream for the itch. By Monday I’d taken 8 predisone and used the ointment twice a day. Nothing seemed changed and the ointment wasn’t any more effective than the baking soda or benadryl. That afternoon I heard about zanfel from someone who said it cleared her affliction up in two days and she had gotten it from a friend who had good results with it also. I first called the nurse to see it she would okay my using it. She had never heard of it and suggested that it I wanted to try it to do see on a small area first. I purchased some that evening and when I saw it was a wash, I used it on the whole afflicted area. I used it twice Monday night and once on Tuesday morning. The itch did not go away completely but I had some relief and liked the fact that I was not slathered with cream. Used the zanfel again Tues. evening but this time it seemed to awaken more and not less of an itching sensation with a slight numbing burning sensation. This time I had some itching sensation where there was no apparent redness. Woke up during the night (about 4 hours later) with more itching, became discouraged with the zanfel and went back to the prescribed cream. It’s Wed. p.m. and still have some itching and many red welts.
    Really appreciate this website as it’s been the most helpful so far. It is comforting to know there are others who have had somewhat the same experiences I’m having.

  19. Ben Avatar

    CVS now offers its own version of Zanfel. It’s called Poison-Ivy Scrub. I checked the ingredients and they all the same except Triethanolamine, which the CVS brand doesnt have. After research Triethanolamine is a detergent used in many OTC counter products so not sure that one ingredient alone would make that big of a difference. The CVS verison is also 20 to 30 bucks cheaper at only 19.99. I’ve been using it for two days now and it certainly helped some but its not a miracle cure. While the swelling and itching have gone down the redness of the rash is still there.

  20. lou Avatar

    day 3 of poison oak i think between my ring and middle fingers, was weeding under a pine tree picking up sticks. no oozing just thick little blisters not too painful or itchy anymore. i just keep it really clean washing it a lot with dial soap. how long will it take to clear up? will these blisters pop? ive never had this before.

  21. Bill Avatar

    I am in day ten of a mild poison ivy outbreak on the inside of my arm.
    A blast of hot water will relieve the itching temporarily by stimulating the affected skin cells to release all their histamine (the mediator causing the itching). They are now depleted for a period of time and the itching will stop temporarily.
    I have also done several washings with auto store handcleaner (Permatex) and it appears to be somewhat stopping the itching.
    This website has been very good at alternatives for the very overpriced Zanfel.

  22. carl Avatar

    I was driving the tractor bushhoging a field. Only some small bushs and sapplings were in the field. I would put up my arm in front of my face when it looked like a limb was going to slap me. Got PI on my arm. I wipe the PI spots with paper towel or toliet paper soaked in rubbing alcohol several times a day. Then apply the “wacky wipe out”. That is the stuff lifeguards put on their noses to prvent sunburn. It’s zink oxide. It gives some itch relief. This is day two. I never got PI til I was 30 years old, and now I get it once a year. If it gets worse, I’ll go to the doctor and get the Steroid shot. My wife said she used bleach on her son from a privious marriage. Don’t think I want to try that. Thanx for the great web site.

  23. AnneS Avatar

    My husband is suffering from a bad case of poison ivy. He was pulling weeds in our backyard ( which is loaded with p.i.). on Sunday. He broke out on Monday. He’s in Canada working this week and I told him to buy Zanfel or tecnu and some benadryl.
    Tomorrow will be my turn. I was cutting back some overgrowth near my shed because I will be painting it soon, and I stepped in poison ivy and I know I touched it with my hands.
    I went to the local rite-aid and brought the zanfel, the rite-aid brand of zanfel, and some tecnu to the pharmacist and asked his opinion. He told me definitely not zanfel. He said that they got a paper telling them not to recommmend zanfel because studies have shown that it doesn’t work and it’s a huge waste of money for $39.99 a tube. He recommended benadryl and calagel.
    I opted for the tecnu extreme and a box of calagel with a trial size tecnu in it. I spent $21 instead of $40. I took the advice of some of you and showered immediately and used the St. Ives apricot scrub. I’ll put on the tecnu tonight and hopefully, I will have a mild to non existant case of poison ivy.
    Hubby bought some stuff in Canada. Some soap, benadryl and some cream, but he didn’t say what. He said he’s getting some relief, but man, he says he is covered head to toe and his private area. Poor guy!!
    What do you all think about the pharmacist not recommending zanfel?

    It would be interesting to see the paper the pharmicist refers to.

    I normally don’t buy Zanfel because of the cost. Cleaning with Tecnu, soap, and water soon after contact usually works for me. But I do use Zanfel when I have an extreme case since I feel that it works. Others have commented that it doesn’t work for them. For extreme cases I bet $39 is cheap for many to get any kind of relief :’)

    – Hans

  24. Chris Thomas Avatar
    Chris Thomas

    I reached this website through Google. There are a number of products advertised on the sidebar. Do you have a comment on the effectiveness of All Stop?

    I’ve only used Tecnu and Zanfel which I have found both work for me.


  25. am Avatar

    Another thought – may work like ImmuneOak mentioned above.

  26. am Avatar

    Forgot to mention rhus toxicodendron is poison ivy…much like Indian remedy to ingest the plant. It is also prescribed for joint aches and tendinitis…which I also have…so I will have to see.

  27. am Avatar

    I have red oozing patch on left eyelid. sw nurse practioner who recommended benedryl and then peron in natural food store. Researched homopathis remedies online. Taking homopathic remedy rhus toxicodendron 30. Took loading dose 12 pills last night, now 5pills/3x day. Oozing gone, redness subsiding. May help Robin Chadwick No Calif who posted Mar 2007. $6/83 pills. Have seen on Amazon. Only on one eyelid maybe because I take quercetin daily for allergy. Also bought Burt Bees pi soap $6, veg base, glycerin, oat protein, pine tar, garden balsam leaf (jewelweed). Jewelweed is key ingredient for washing away the oil. used instead of tea tree oil in eye area. Will advise when gone.

  28. C.J. Avatar

    I was just wondering if you can pop the little bubbles, wash your hands, and apply your medicine.

    Almost as fun as popping bubble wrap! Heh, well, maybe not. Yes I’ve popped and scrubbed off blisters without any problems. There is a risk of infection if you don’t keep the site clean. And some medication instructs not to apply to exposed wounds. So, pop at your own risk.

  29. .r a Avatar
    .r a

    I have acquired poison oak at 55 for the first time and I am a country girl. I read over and over all posts here and numerous other places as this stuff is real torment,none like I have ever endured before. I am a redhead wth sensitive skin. I don’t know how being raised on a farm that I avoided this menace for so long. Well to begin with I tried witch hazel and alcohol , very brief relief. Believe it or not nail polish remover worked pretty well for me . Then Ivy dry did well. I still have some of this mess, BUT, I had been using apricot scrub to dry up the oil. Well, that and HOT water felt good ! Then I found and read about Zanfel, WAY too expensive , SO, after much pondering and praying and research I went out and bought a female contraceptive foam, I thought foam would work better than the jelly. Beware though some are highly allergic to nonoxynal -9. I got the foam it had more in it than the jelly as well.I put the foam on my itchees for a few minutes and them added some water and scrubed with the apricot scrub, THE BEST relief I have found. Looked SO much better this morning and a LOT cheaper than Zanfel and makes a LOT more ounces to use. Well, my pharmacist told me to take 50mg Benadylr EVERY 4 hours as it seems to be systemic and I do not do well with the horrors of prednisone and cortisone.The foam and the scrub really help the old eruptions but of course will NOT stop the new ones that randomly appear. So when I see a new one I just dig out the treatment ! Zanfel does not prevent new eruptions either. Well, I hope I can spare someone some agony, and this stuff is tormenting agony, it should be named The Devil’s Revenge ! Again some are allergic to N-9 so be wary ! N-9 I discovered is in a lot of cleansers and makeup and haircolor as well. Hey, prayer and prevention is the way to go and N-9 and apricot scrub works good too. God bless each one who is afflicted with this mess !

  30. Stan Avatar

    Year ago I used Zanfel, helped especially well for the private parts. Other area less impressed. Ran out of the product quickly as I used it 4 repeated times over 2 days for small areas on legs and the ‘other parts’. While it did seem to speed the recovery and remove the itch my case was fairly mild compared to some photos and descriptions (small localized blister trails). Just found rash appearing again after campout, going to try the TechnuExtreme and will post those results…

  31. Patrick Avatar

    After suffering thru the first several days and watching my face swell and my nuts turn into red christmas bulbs. I used Tecnu Extreme and recieved a shot of Keleg to control this crap. I can tell you that after the first 24 hour period of using Tecnu Extreme there is a huge difference in my rash. In addition the steroid shot reduced the swelling and itching and I feel like I might be able to get rid of this much quicker than I anticipated. I’m extremely excited about this becuase I’m terribly allergic to Poison Oak and for the last three days I’ve wanted to take a cheese grater to my balls just to releive the ithcing! Anyway I’ll update again after another 24 hour period. P.S. Thanks for the site it was a life saver

  32. Heather Avatar

    I am soooo glad to have stumbled across this site. I am on day 3 of a PO outbreak. I received a 6 day medi pack this morning and the swelling in my face has gone down. Why do we do these stupid things for? Some of us on here have had outbreaks before doing yardwork and removing PO/PI but yet we do it again?! lol Which is how I came in contact with it AGAIN. Knowing full well my last outbreak was bad, I still cleared out PO vines and seedlings from around my yard. Each day I wake up the rash is worse. I do the hot water treatment which I learned of from last time. Its the best feeling, you almost need a cigarette afterwards! lol
    I will be trying the Zanfel(or its cheaper counterpart). I need to look human by Thursday for a night out to see a comedian stand up show. Otherwise I will be looking for some sort of head dress to hide my face! I have tried other methods listed on the internet i.e. vinegar, peroxide, acne pads, bleach, to no avail. I just want to look normal again. I will never EVER EVER EVER go anywhere near poison oak again. I will let ya know how the Zanfel(or its cheaper counterpart)works out. Thanks for the site Hans, its great to find out from others what their treatments have been.

  33. Danica Avatar

    Last night was day 8 of utter misery & it seemed that my rash was spreading, so this morning we caved & bought Zanfel (on sale, $10 off happily). One application stopped the majority of my itching, going on 3 hrs now. I don’t know if it’s stopped the entire process, but even 3 hrs of relief from the dreadful itch has been worth $30 to me.

  34. Kurt Funke Avatar
    Kurt Funke

    Like the site. Hope to get a response to immuneoak back on the market. Or let US know your opinion ; STEROIDS Vs. immune oak! Thank You. Kurt

  35. Kurt Funke Avatar
    Kurt Funke

    First time at this site. Hopeing to find a place to buy Immune Oak. I took the dose while working for a tree triming comp. In 1983 Contracted by P.G.& E. .You take A 5 vile , one vile a day.If you choose. And yes U-R NOT SUPOSES to come in contac with poison oak while taking Immune Oak. One treat meant lasted up 10 yrs.or more . I made it with out getting P-O about 12 yrs. One comment said possible liver or kidney diese, was the reason it was removed from the market. Has any one read the risk’s of the pre. scrip. DRUGS. WE recive now!!! How about the treatments to RELEAVE P-O . steroids ect. And stil suffering a week or more. The best remd. I fond so far is Tecnu. I applie it as soon as rash starts. AND DO NOT wash it off. And reapplie when itching starts. Usally 3-4 times a day. And no symtons After 2-3 days! I think we should get Immune Oak back on the market. And let us decied to or not to use it. I could roll in P-O without a shirt and not get any singh of it. And yes i did. Why because i was 19yrs. DUMB.

  36. Brian Avatar

    I went to the pharmacy for my kid who has poison oak. He recommended the Zanfel but they were out. He then turned to the feminine birth control products and pointed to a vaginal jelly loaded with Monoxnol-9 he said it would work the same. He said Monoxnol fights foreign proteins and that is what is created with a poison oak outbreak. It stands to reason that the skin needs to be cleaned prior to application. I will see what happens.

  37. Chris from Houston Avatar
    Chris from Houston

    Has anyone had any experience or success with DermaTechRx

  38. Erika Avatar

    PS – Forgot to mention Solarcaine Burn Relief Aloe Extra Gel – pretty cheap in any drugstore and gives a mild amount of relief for very short periods and helps w/healing (active ingredient is Lidocaine HCL 0.5%) – good to have on hand to kill the insane pain/itch urge when it erupts.
    PPS – Has anyone ever failed the math test?

  39. Erika Avatar
  40. Robin Chadwick Avatar
    Robin Chadwick

    I am not even sure what i have is Poison Oak — but pretty sure. I kayak and hike a lot in northern CA — but can usually control PO if wash right away (have necnu)and dab with liquid from boiled manzaneta leaves — but what i am writing about is my eyelids — every few months (winter when not even kayaking) — last night woke up in night with familiar weird feeling on eye lids — now swollen terrible — red angry looking color — last fall i finally gave in and went to MD office and got steriod shot — worked like a charm.
    My question is do others get JUST swollen eye lids? Some people here think I am getting it from people burning brush around homes — and actually these eye bouts do seem to come spring/fall — typical times to burn off shrub.
    SO can i just get PO on eye lids? And what helps eyelids? One thing that helps other parts of my body — and I never do end up getting a bad bout if use this — is boiled manzaneta leaves — I freeze it so can keep long time.
    Any suggestions for just on eye lids?
    this is a great site, read everyting. . .robin in sonora

  41. susan Avatar

    The poison Ivy treatment from this site works great
    stops the itch almost immediately and gets rid of the rash fast.
    I keep a supply year round.

  42. Brian Avatar

    Tip update: If you think you are getting PO or think that you were exposed to it, and you feel that tingle coming on then just rinse/wash with good old fashioned Rubbing Alcohol. I wash my hands with the alcohol then wash with any kind of shampoo and then repeat if I feel it is necessary. If the oil is gone so is the itch. I realize rubbing alcohol is pretty hash on the skin, but I found it to be the most effective/cheapest/available thing on the market. Zanfel was ok just way too expensive.
    Warning: If you do this as a consistent treatment for an active infection your skin can get so dry that the feeling of the dry skin almost feels like the PO. The dry skin tricked me for a good week. I kept hammering what I thought was the PO, but it was just dry skin. If your skin starts cracking to the point of bleeding, then suspend the treatment until it heals up.

  43. Emilie Avatar

    Great site! Lots of good info.Clothes washing was my main concern and I think I will wash the stuff one more time. Got my current case of PI from tops of neighbor’s evergreens that snapped under ice storm damage and fell into my yard. As I hauled the last one to the drainage ditch for pick up I saw the masses of tendrils from the PI at the top where they went for sunshine in our lovely midwest winter. Egads!! It is NEVER DEAD. I am on prednisone and an antihistamine after fighting with other products 18 days. Decided I am having worse reactions each year and may try hiring out the spring trimming that will be coming up. PI all over back of my yard. Probably be cheaper than Dr and Rx. Thanks for all the info.

  44. adam Avatar

    Just a tip: The prescription alergy medicine Zyrtec works great for the itching. I take it anyway for seasonal allergies and it pretty much nullifies the itching for 24 hours. No help for the gnarly skin though.

  45. Michael B Avatar
    Michael B

    Has anyone tried a product called ALL STOP ?

  46. Brian Grove Avatar
    Brian Grove

    I too have been battling PO since July 4. We went to a Northern
    California beach and met some people that had been camping
    there with their dog. Their dog played with our dog all day in
    the ocean. Went home and I washed the dog a day later. I got PO
    all over my palms and between my fingers which I spread to
    everything that I touched in my home, car and body. I even got
    it on the bottom of my feet probably from where the dog had
    been laying around the house. So here I am 2+ months later
    still fighting the fight.
    I like the idea about the shampoo for removing the oil from
    skin as a cheap alternative. As for hot water. No, no, no. You
    people that do this are crazy. It made everything worse for me.
    I got the advice from another site and I soon realized that it
    was a huge mistake. I have been getting PO all my life. So I
    already knew that hot water opens pores and could spread the
    PO, and I would say that is definitely true. But I acted on
    this advice because of sheer desperation. I would heat up the
    water as much as I could stand and leave my hands under the
    water for as long as I could stand it. DON’T do that.
    I have read some great advice on this site. My theory on my
    systemic re-infections is my clothes. I have been using a
    liquid Tide soap. I have washed all my clothes at least 3 times
    before wearing them again. Yet still with some of my board
    shorts and cotton shorts when I wear them for a period of time
    I can feel an itch coming from the area that was infected with
    PO. Sure enough I run home at lunch and wash the hell out the
    area before it gets too bad and then here I go for another
    week. I really want to know what is the best thing to wash your
    clothes with? I think I will try the powder instead of the
    liquid to see if there is a difference. Technu says it washes
    clothes too, but how much of it should I use per load? I also
    read somewhere how some guy took a bath and all of the oil rose
    to the top so when he got up out of the bath a nice layer of
    oil covered the whole front of his body. So I was thinking what
    happens in a clothes washer? The water fills up then washes
    everything then drains the water. So if the layer of oil floats
    to the top during the cycle and then when the washer empties
    the water, it would make sense to me that the oil would come to
    rest on different areas of the clothes. Yet I still feel
    irritation where I had it previously on my thigh. I have been
    washing everything in cold water because I don’t want to shrink
    all my clothes, but I think hot water and powdered detergent
    must be the only way. I also would think that doing small loads
    would be more effective than doing large ones. Because if my
    theory is correct, when the water empties out of the washer it
    would drain more of the oil because it would not come to rest
    on as many clothes. I would love to hear anyone else’s opinion
    on this. I am completely paranoid about everything I touch now.
    If you are reading this site you must have PO or something so
    embrace the paranoia because it is the only way to erradicate
    this vile oil. The oil lasts a lot longer than people think.
    When I go to my father’s house where I endured at least 2 very
    bad infections I can still get that familiar tingle on my hands
    if I touch the right drawer or object in my old room. My last
    infection there was 13 years ago, and that oil is still there
    and still potent. Good luck to all.

  47. Mike Avatar

    I just purchased CVS’s brand of Poison Ivy Wash for $19.99 it has virtually identical ingredients as Zanfel and the tube is 50% bigger. Has anyone used this product? Does it work as well as Zanfel. Thanks.

  48. twb Avatar

    my dad is a tree trimmer, the Immunoak people are talking about here was actually the chemical in the poison ivy/oak that makes you itch… that’s why if you take it afterwards it makes the effect worse rather than better.

  49. Cheryl Watkins Avatar
    Cheryl Watkins

    I was working in my yard last weekend and discovered a whole nasty patch of poison oak or ivy (not sure which) and am experiencing the worst reaction I have ever had (which still is probably not too bad compared to some described above). I am going to try some of the advice listed. I’m going to order some of the Mean Green, and probably the Zanfel. I’ll let you know if these products work for me. My husband is also breaking out – I can’t even remember everything I may have touched and contaminated! The information on this site is the most comprehensive I have seen thus far. THANKS!

  50. Greta Sholachman Avatar
    Greta Sholachman

    I am no longer in contact with the plant. It was on a hike up north that I fell into a patch of this crazy stuff. I am no longer wearing the clothes I wore that day however I have worn clothing recently, more than once before a wash. I don’t know. Do I have to wash my hands every time i touch my infected leg? How about if I touch my metal desk at work after touching my leg. Can that spot on the desk reinfect me or another?
    I was really going crazy today what with my knee looking like a burn from hell or like red leather attached to me that I wanted to rip off with a vengance. I called the doctor and PLEADED for some steroids. To my amazment and relief, I got an RX within 4 hours of calling. Can’t take the meds until tomorrow. But that’s Ok. I’m so pleased with the result of my call. I wasn’t able to do anything today because of the discomfort and sticky legs. I did get a cortisone ointment from my doctor 2 days ago. It gave me no relief at all. Well, that’s not true. Maybe a little relief. That’s why I continued to use it. And Zanfel? A bust. I wasted my money.
    Thank you so much for your help. And I’m not taking any baths. It doeasn’t sound like a good idea. Maybe could make things worse. Yikes! Greta

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