Novel Toxicodendron treatment promises 30-second relief that isn't merely symptomatic

October 11, 2004

The news this week from the floor of the commercial Exhibit Hall of AAP 2004 National Conference and Exhibition is that the most common allergic reaction has a cure. More than 55 million Americans develop allergic contact dermatitis from exposure to poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac (Toxicodendron species) every year. According to a report by researchers at St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network in Bethlehem, Pa., relief with the new soap product of alcohol solubles and anionic surfactants is just 30 seconds away.

The news this week from the floor of the commercial Exhibit Hall of AAP 2004 National Conference and Exhibition is that the most common allergic reaction has a cure. More than 55 million Americans develop allergic contact dermatitis from exposure to poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac (Toxicodendron species) every year. According to a report by researchers at St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network in Bethlehem, Pa., relief with the new soap product of alcohol solubles and anionic surfactants is just 30 seconds away.

The person who had contact with the offending plant washes the affected area with the soap, which binds the resinous plant allergen, urushiol, and rinses it away with water. Once the allergen is removed, itching disappears within seconds and other symptoms begin to abate within minutes to hours, the investigators report.

More familiar treatments for urushiol-induced allergic contact dermatitis utilize prophylaxis with a barrier cream to prevent exposure or an anti-inflammatory to treat an established reaction. But prophylaxis is notoriously ineffective, and systemic antihistamines and steroids and topical treatments are limited in their efficacy or by concerns about side effects - especially in pediatric patients.

Zanfel, produced by Zanfel Laboratories, can be used any time after exposure to urushiol. The manufacturer claims relief from itching within 15 seconds for the typical mild or moderate allergic dermatitis. Other symptoms tend to disappear entirely within 48 to 96 hours. The product is available over the counter in pharmacies, supermarkets, and other retail outlets.