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Is Poison Ivy Contagious?

There are a lot of individuals out there who believe poison ivy is contagious. If you have it, touch the poison ivy, and then touch one of us, we’ll end up with poison ivy as well. This is simply not the case, but we’ll provide more details in a moment.

Understanding the Oil

Each poison ivy plant, tree, root, vine, or shrub has urushiol oil in it. When the oil touches human skin, our pores accept the urushiol oil, even though it creates a rash on our body. If you have the oil on the palm of your hand and touch other parts of your body, the oil will spread to those locations. However, some areas will look worse than others. This is because the oil on your hand is transferred from one location to another, until there isn’t anymore present.

Unfortunately, urushiol thrives on other things as well. It’s possible for you to get it on a pair of gardening gloves, your clothes, tools, or anything else that comes in contact with it.

So, is poison ivy contagious?

Well, the rash itself is not contagious. It’s the urushiol oil that creates the problem. In order to reduce or eliminate the risk of attracting poison ivy, you have to take a few precautionary measures to see results. We want to make sure you are well aware of each opportunity, so you don’t end up with poison ivy.

1. Taking Cold Showers – If you came into contact with poison ivy, it’s important to take a shower immediately. It should also be a cold shower, because it closes the pores, which keeps the urushiol from entering the body through the skin. Keep in mind; this is not a 100% guarantee, because your skin could have absorbed some of the urushiol oil already. This approach is to keep from any further rashes or blisters from developing.

2. Wash All Clothes and Equipment – If you want to further reduce the risk of developing poison ivy be sure to wash all your clothes, tools, and equipment you had contact with while around the poison ivy. Urushiol oil can stay on any of them for a year or longer, so it’s important to remove any potential risks. After all, you don’t want to pick up the shoes you wore during the first encounter and end up with poison ivy before you even head outdoors.

3. Don’t Ever Burn the Leaves – One of the worst things you could do is burn the poison ivy leaves, roots, plants, or shrubs. The urushiol oil can be burned and become airborne. If you inhale the oil, it’s possible to end up with internal poison ivy. This is by far the worst experience you can have, outside of getting it in your eyes or something similar. If you don’t burn the leaves, you can remove this horrible experience from the equation.

These are the three main areas of concern. Also, if you have pets that could end up being around poison ivy, give them a bath. The urushiol oil can stay on their coats if there is direct contact. Since pets do not get poison ivy, it would be hard to tell before you developed a rash of your own. This could occur by simply petting your cat or dog and transferring the oil from their coat to you.

The Rash

When you start to develop a rash, it will be irritating. The itch seems like it will never go away, and you might feel like scratching another area of your body is only going to make matters worse. The truth is; your rash or blisters don’t have urushiol oil that is produced. The blisters are mostly filled with water, so if one pops, you won’t be spreading the poison ivy. Yes, there are still people that swear this is the case, but it’s really because there is urushiol oil somewhere else. It could be on your clothes, tools, or anywhere else, which is creating additional rashes.

The Severity

If you end up with a severe case of poison ivy or this is your first encounter, go ahead and schedule an appointment with your doctor. There is a good chance they will give you the necessary meds to control the poison ivy and eventually get rid of it. Sometimes this can involve prednisone, which is a steroid used to fight against allergic reactions as well as Leukaemia.

Those who are extremely sensitive to poison ivy might want to consider allergy shots. Even though you might only need them a certain amount of time throughout the year, its well worth trying if you’ve recently had a poison ivy encounter. Doctors will also give you a few options in regards to soothing the itchiness. This could be anything from using cold compressions to applying calamine lotion.

Knowledge is Power

The information here today is to provide you with a better sense of how poison ivy works. The leaves from a poison ivy plant will not cause you to get a rash. It’s the urushiol oil inside the leaves or roots that create the problem. If you notice poison ivy in your backyard, it’s a good idea to remove it before anyone else ends up itching. Just remember to take the necessary steps before pulling them out of the ground. The root areas have a higher potency of urushiol oil as opposed to the leaves.

So, the next time you’re in contact with poison ivy plants, remember that it is not contagious. Just go inside, take a shower, and wash everything you wore while in contact with the poison ivy. Even though it might seem like a chore, it’s a far cry from what you would be dealing with if you develop poison ivy.

Unfortunately, poison ivy can be extremely unbearable at times. If you find yourself in a situation like this one, set up an appointment to visit your family physician. They will always be able to answer your questions and ease the itchiness. Plus, some people go to the doctor believing they have poison ivy when it’s actually something else. Your first visit will help you figure out what type of treatments will work best for you.