Taming the wicked itch

July 1, 2007

A novel line of products (Cortaid Poison Ivy Care Toxin Removal Cloths and Cortaid Poison Ivy Care Removal Scrub, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) has been clinically proven to effectively remove up to 95 percent of urushiol from the skin when used to wipe or scrub an exposed area, resulting in no or very negligible breakout afterward. Clinical studies demonstrate that poison plant dermatitis can be prevented or the severity of the reaction significantly mitigated.

Key Points

Skillman, N.J. - Clinical study results demonstrate the efficacy of a novel product line for removing urushiol from the skin and helping the skin return to a healthier state sooner, report researchers from Johnson & Johnson Consumer and Personal Products.

The studies showed the products prevented a poison plant dermatitis reaction when used within 15 minutes after toxin exposure, and significantly reduced the poison ivy outbreak and enabled faster skin healing when used within two hours. Safety assessments showed that the products are safe for use on intact skin or on skin compromised by the rash.

A mighty itch

"Preventive measures, including plant recognition and wearing long sleeves and pants, are important for avoiding urushiol contact with the skin," she says. "When contact occurs, there are a variety of treatment options. To our knowledge, the Cortaid brand toxin removal products are the only ones that have been clinically proven to remove the toxin from the skin, and we believe they are a useful addition to your routine preventive measures."

The studies tested both commercially available versions of the product (Cortaid Poison Ivy Care Toxin Removal Cloths and Cortaid Poison Ivy Care Removal Scrub). Both contain a patent-pending combination of ingredients for toxin removal. The ingredients were selected for their hydrophilic/hydrophobic properties and their effect is with an efficient scrubbing/wiping system that enhances product efficacy.

"The hydrophobic regions of these compounds bind and surround the oily urushiol to create a micelle, while the hydrophilic regions allow the encapsulated toxin to be solubilized in water and washed off the skin," explains Laura Magee, staff scientist, Wound Care Product Development, Johnson & Johnson Consumer and Personal Products Worldwide, Skillman, N.J.

"The scrub also contains granules to assist with the mechanical removal of the toxins. The cloths use the same technology and feature a unique honeycomb texture that further traps and wicks away the encapsulated urushiol, eliminating the need for water rinse."

To prove the products' efficacy in removing the toxin and, thus, to help prevent the rash outbreak, a series of clinical studies were performed on subjects known to develop a rash when exposed to Rhus oleoresin.

"The efficacy of these products was investigated shortly after skin exposure but also after a longer exposure time, which is likely to allow a more intimate toxin contact with skin," Dr. Niciporciukas notes.

Kicking the itch

The efficacy of the products for removing toxin was demonstrated in a series of studies enrolling more than 80 subjects who applied patches containing Rhus oleoresin to the forearm for 15 minutes.

The toxin-exposed sites were either left untreated or treated with the toxin removal scrub or the cloth. Immediately thereafter, an adhesive patch was applied for a limited time on both sites and processed for spectrophotometric analysis of its content of removed oleoresin. The results showed that compared with no treatment, the scrub and the cloth removed 95 percent of urushiol from the skin.

"The amount of urushiol remaining on skin was not enough to trigger an allergic response in follow-up studies with the wipe, and only one mild outbreak out of 20 tested was reported with the scrub, while most of the untreated sites resulted in moderate outbreaks," Dr. Niciporciukas tells Dermatology Times.

In another study designed to assess the ability of the cloths to prevent spreading of the toxin, 15 subjects were exposed to Rhus oleoresin for one hour, used the cloth product or left the skin untreated, and then returned at days three and seven for clinical follow-up. The results show that the urushiol was not spread through the act of wiping as the experimentally induced rash was confined to the patched area.

In that trial, the subjects were exposed to Rhus oleoresin using patches applied to the volar forearms for two hours. Following removal, one site was left untreated and the other was scrubbed with the toxin removal scrub. Lesion severity was assessed at follow-up visits conducted after three, seven, 10 and 14 days.