Frequently Asked Questions about Zanfel® Poison Ivy Wash

Q: Why should I use this product?
A: Zanfel® Poison Ivy Wash is the only product clinically shown to remove poison ivy (urushiol) from the skin ANYTIME after outbreak, providing virtually immediate relief of itching and pain.

Q: How does Zanfel stop the itching, redness, and swelling?
A: Zanfel removes urushiol, the oil in poison ivy that binds to the skin and produces the symptoms of itching, redness, and swelling. Zanfel surrounds and removes the toxin from the dermal layers so that the body may immediately begin healing, and will no longer attack itself. This process is done very quickly and efficiently so that relief usually comes within 30 seconds!

Q: Is Zanfel safe to use during pregnancy?
A: Yes. Zanfel is also safe for use by nursing women.

Q: Can I use Zanfel on the eyelids?
A: Yes. As with other strong soaps, Zanfel should be applied carefully, avoiding direct contact with the eye. If contact occurs, rinse the eye with cold water until the irritation subsides.

Q: Is it safe for the face and genitals?
A: Yes.

Q: Are there any side effects?
A: Yes. A good night's sleep without itching.

Q: Does zanfel have a shelf life?
A: Zanfel has a 10 year shelf life, so stocking up is no problem!!

Q: When I wash with Zanfel, how long will it be before I actually feel better?
A: The itch and pain are usually gone in 30 seconds!

Q: Do I have to use it soon after I get the rash?
A: Zanfel is effective at any point after contact with poison ivy and will provide relief regardless of how long you have suffered with the allergic reaction.

If you know within the first hour that you contacted poison ivy, sumac, or oak, some experts claim that plain soap and water might wash it off the skin. They suggest that washing is effective if you catch it within the first two to four hours after exposure. Other experts believe that unless you wash within the first 10 minutes, the oil will bind to the skin. Once the oil has bonded, Zanfel is the only substance known to remove the oil.

Q: What is a course of treatment with Zanfel?
A: Poison ivy, sumac, and oak secrete a toxin called urushiol oil. When human skin contacts this oil, it sets up an allergic reaction that causes itchy rashes, blisters, and lesions. A course of treatment with Zanfel involves washing the affected area until no itching remains. Some spots may contain more urushiol oil than others and, therefore, require a second washing with Zanfel. If you feel any itching whatsoever, you have not properly completed the first treatment!

After completing the first treatment, you should be itch-free and, within 24 hours, 75-80% of the rash also should disappear. For most people, no more treatments are required. For others, the deeper oils that were out of Zanfel's reach the first time begin to move up to the surface, and the itch may return within two to 24 hours, depending on the severity. In this case, a second treatment may be required. Note: For any severe reactions typically having the appearance of thick leathery spots, further applications may be needed in those areas only .

Q: How does it work?
A: Zanfel works safely into the dermal layer of your skin, binds to the urushiol oil, and, when rinsed off, takes the oil with it down the drain.

Q: It feels rough. Will it damage my skin?
A: Even though Zanfel is safe on damaged skin, excessive scrubbing with this or any other product is not recommended. Remember that the goal is to remove the urushiol oil, and this usually takes no more than 3 minutes of scrubbing. In fact, Zanfel also deep cleans the skin, promoting fast healing of the wound at the same time it is removing the toxin. Zanfel feels good when you scrub with it, even on cuts.

Q: Can Zanfel prevent me from getting poison ivy?
A: No. Zanfel actually removes the toxin, urushiol oil, from the skin after contact has been made with the plant. There is no need to use it until you are certain you contacted the plant or when swelling and itching begin. In this way, you avoid wasting the product. Even if you use barrier or preventive creams, they may not always be effective and they do not shield your clothing. Oil on your clothing may contaminate you when you undress. Also, you can spread the toxin by touching contaminated clothing to other surfaces such as sleeping bags, bedding, upholstery, or carpeting (it may be on your shoes, and shoestrings). For these reasons and more, keep Zanfel on hand even if you use preventive creams.

Q: Can I use Zanfel to clean off garden tools?
A: Regular soap and water can be used to remove urushiol oil from garden tools. To help prevent secondary exposures, it is important to clean garden tools which have become contaminated with the poison ivy plants' oil with soap and lots of water

Q: I've used Zanfel a couple of days and I'm getting new breakouts! Why isn't it working?
A: If your itch was halted by using Zanfel, it did work! One of two things may be happening: You may simply be recontaminating yourself. (Read on for details.) Alternatively, Zanfel works topically (at the skin level). It is possible that the urushiol has penetrated the skin and entered the lymphatic or blood system, causing a systemic reaction. In either case,SEE A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY.

Q: How do I know if I'm having a systemic reaction?
A: Your healthcare provider will look for the following symptoms:

  • The rash appears in new areas after day 4.
  • There are breakouts on more than 15% of your body. (30% most certainly indicates a systemic reaction)
  • Your joints are swelling.

Your healthcare provider may determine that your reaction is systemic and may prescribe steroid injections and/or pills. Steroids halt the systemic reaction but typically have little effect on topical reactions. If you treat the topical reaction with Zanfel and the systemic reaction with steroids, you will usually experience complete and permanent relief. Steroids and Zanfel make a great team!

Important: If your reaction is systemic and you treat it only with Zanfel, Zanfel IS working if your itch and pain go away. However, new oil will continue to resurface, and the rewashing cycle may go on for weeks. It is important that you see your healthcare provider to halt further outbreaks.

Q: How can I prevent getting a systemic reaction?
A: Systemic reactions can result from several things:

  • Cutting, handling, or pulling the plant's stems. There is enough oil on a stem to affect more than 10,000 people. When it is concentrated that much in one spot, the oil tends to be absorbed by your body more readily.
  • Exposing an open cut, even a mosquito bite, to the plant. This allows the oil direct access to your blood system.
  • Inhaling the smoke and ash from burning plants.
  • Other unknown causes that still remain unexplained.

You can help prevent systemic reactions by taking the following precautions:

  • Learn to identify the poison ivy plant so that you can avoid contacting it.
  • Don't handle the plants unless you wear protective gloves. Avoid touching cut or mown plants. Don't directly pull on the stems or try to remove vines with bare hands.
  • If you must handle the plants, purchase heavy duty protective gloves from a hardware or lumber store. Be aware that even "neoprene" or "pvc" may only offer one hour of protection or less.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as long pants and sleeves, that cover your body. Remember, however, that cloth absorbs the oil and your protection is minimal and brief.
  • Don't burn the plants.
  • Remember that the oil can remain on gloves, weeders, mowers, clippers, and other tools for a year and in dry climates, as much as five-10 years. Wash all utensils with soap and water while wearing protective gloves. Wash the gloves, too.
  • Remove the clothing you wore when exposed and put it directly into the wash while still wearing protective gloves. Take the gloves off last.

Q: What if I or my children get Zanfel in our eyes or swallow it?
A: If accidentally swallowed, Zanfel usually causes gagging. If not, it enters the digestive tract and seeks out and kills all bacteria. Good bacteria in your gut aids in digestion, so you may experience mild diarrhea for several hours until your body regenerates the good bacteria. If Zanfel gets into your eyes, rinse them with water until the burning subsides. If problems become severe or if they persist, see your healthcare provider immediately.


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