I like to wear shorts in the summer, especially around my house, when I mow my small lawn and when I help my wife in her incredible garden. My primary responsibilities as a gardener’s helper include digging, carrying and debris removal.

Oh, and I almost forgot weeding. That’s where my story starts.

As I was helping her weed the garden a couple of weeks ago I brushed up against poison ivy crouching among some ferns. Predictably, a day or two later the little red welts of poison ivy showed up on my both of my ankles. I lived with the itching a week or so, ignoring it during the day when I was busiest and suffering each evening as I relaxed with my wife.

Then I remembered a small sample of a product called Zanfel I picked up at one of the industry trade shows. Zanfel is a topical solution for treating poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. The company claims “it is the only product known to remove urushiol, the toxin responsible for the reaction, from the skin.”

After digging through a clutter of cue tips, nail clickers, combs, tiny tubes of toothpaste, etc. in a drawer in our bathroom cabinet, I found that small sample and started applying the product to my ankles.

What do you know? Within a day or two the welts and the itching were history. Admittedly, I didn’t have a major outbreak of poison ivy, so I don’t know how well the product would work for the type of outbreak my son had several years ago when he had to go to the local hospital for shots and treatments. But the Zanfel worked for me.

Prevent rather than cure

I’ve always been told, and I firmly believe, that prevention is better than cure. I think it would be a great idea if every landscape company would educate their crew members about poison ivy, oak and sumac—what they look like and why they should be avoided.

My guess is that it’s a pretty common occupational hazard within the industry. Obviously, apart from the discomfort accruing from contact with these nasty plants, a bad enough infection can put workers out of action until they are cured.

Apart from that, I wonder how many landscape companies specifically offer control of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. If they do, do they charge a bit extra for it, a sort of hazardous-duty add-on?

When I went to the Zanfel website, I learned a lot about plants that you should avoid. I also checked out Zanfel’s latest enewsletter and discovered folks that have made a business out of ridding properties of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. The website offered this list of poison ivy service providers.