Why do I get a rash from poison ivy, oak or sumac plants?
Poison ivy and related plants produce an oily resin called urushiol (yoo-ROO-shee-ol). When exposed to your skin, urushiol often triggers the body’s allergic response, resulting in redness, inflammation and itching.
What are the symptoms of a poison ivy reaction?
The allergic reaction takes the form of red raised bumps, extreme itching and weeping blisters. Multiple blisters (which may form several days after the initial breakout) may be tiny or large, typically appearing in a straight line following the track where the plant brushed your skin. Additional symptoms may include fever and headache.
How long before most allergic reactions begin?
Urushiol oil from poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac plants can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours to penetrate the skin. Once the oil binds to your skin, an allergic reaction can develop.
You may experience symptoms within 12-48 hours after exposure. The severity of the reaction depends on how much urushiol you've come in contact with and your individual sensitivity.
How long could a poison ivy reaction last?
If left untreated, the rash usually lasts two to three weeks. If symptoms worsen after seven days or last longer than two weeks, see your physician.
How do I treat a poison ivy rash?
Because urushiol oil is so thick and resin-like, washing with regular soap and water is often ineffective. Sometimes regular soap and water can spread the oils around, widening the affected area.
We recommend you use büji Wash®, an extremely effective exfoliating cleanser designed to break the bond between the urushiol and your skin to dissolve the oil, allowing you to wash it away. You can use büji Wash anytime after exposure, even many days after a rash appears. Once the oil is removed, your skin can begin to heal.
Traditional poison ivy treatments, such as calamine lotion or hydrocortisone, temporarily suppress the itch, but they can’t cure a poison ivy rash. büji Wash works by adhering to the oils and dissolving them, so your skin can heal.
Can I spread a poison ivy rash by scratching?
Once the oil has absorbed into your skin, you probably won’t spread it by scratching. Even if you have blisters, the fluid itself will not spread the rash to other parts of your body. (To avoid infection and scarring, blisters should not be popped or drained.)
While the rash may appear to be spreading, it’s more likely that one of the following situations has occurred: 1) Your body is still reacting to the initial exposure. In areas where your body came in contact with smaller amounts of urushiol oil or where your skin is thicker, the rash may take longer to appear. 2) You’ve touched an object exposed to urushiol (e.g., garden tools, gloves, shoes). To safeguard yourself from further poison ivy/oak exposure, immediately remove and wash all clothing articles upon coming indoors (before you sit on your sofa, before you sit on your bed, etc.).
Can’t I spread the rash simply by washing?
Yes. Unfortunately, you can spread urushiol oil by trying to wash it off with plain soap and water. büji Wash is specifically formulated to dissolve urushiol oil and safely remove it from your skin.
Could I be immune to the rash?
Approximately 85 percent of the U.S. population is allergic to urushiol. A person’s sensitivity to poison ivy changes over time and sensitivity tends to increase the more one is exposed to the plants. The better your immune system, the stronger your body will fight this allergen. Children under the age of two and elderly people don't typically experience the rash (or they have a less severe reaction) as their immune systems aren't functioning at the same level as younger adults and children.
Is a poison oak, poison sumac or poison ivy rash contagious?
A poison ivy rash itself is not contagious. However, the oil can transfer from person to person through contaminated clothing or other objects. Pets can also carry urushiol on their skin or fur and transmit the oil to you.
Can I touch a dead poison ivy plant without risking a rash?
No. Urushiol is found in the roots, stems, leaves and berries of these plants and is toxic year-round. In fact, urushiol may remain active in dead plants for up to five years.
How long will the poison ivy oils remain active on my clothes and garden tools?
Urushiol may be transmitted on outdoor equipment, golf clubs, garden tools and clothing. The oil can remain active on these items for up to five years. Wear protective gloves and wash affected tools thoroughly with soap and water. Clean contaminated clothing in a separate wash load.
Where do poison ivy, oak and sumac plants grow?
How can I remove poison sumac, poison oak or poison ivy plants?
Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac plants grow almost everywhere in the United States, except Hawaii, Alaska, desert areas and most elevations above 5,000. The prevalence and structure of each plant vary by region and season. The plants can appear as a ground cover, shrub or vine.
Poison ivy is very difficult to eradicate. Several herbicide products on the market claim to kill the plant, but you will likely need frequent applications to terminate the root. Even if the plant is dead, urushiol oil can remain active for up to five years. Never burn poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac plants (live or dead). Their toxic oils may be inhaled in the smoke, causing a potentially lethal reaction. Do not mow the plants. The mower will cut the plant into poisonous pieces that could 1) hit you while you mow and 2) blow over a wider area. Wear protective clothing and use the büji Block® / büji Wash® system whenever you attempt to remove these plants.