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Poison Ivy

We have all heard our fair share of myths about poison ivy.  The most common of those is that we can spread the rash to other parts of our body and to other people when the blister fluid breaks open. This is actually incorrect.  This is confusing for those that have had poison ivy dermatitis, because everyday one gets a new area of rash and outbreak. So it must be spreading?!

Actually No. Poison ivy contains the a reactive oil containing uroshiol.  The oil in the plant is causing the rash. Tests and trials confirm there is no uroshiol in the blister fluid. When you are working in the yard or come in contact with the plant the oil rubs onto your skin without you realizing it.  Then you wipe and touch other parts of your body and spread the oil around.  Once the oil has sat for 10 minutes the process has begun. All these areas are then destined to break out, however it may take 7-10 days for the rash to show up so it appears that it has spread. Once you shower with soap and water which removes the oil poison ivy cannot be spread. You must have the plant oil in order to spread and cause the rash.  The blister fluid does not contain uroshiol and therefore cannot cause the rash. This also means you cannot spread the rash to other people. 

Unfortunately, uroshiol can survive on inanaimate objects for a month or more! That means a shovel with the oil on it that you used last month could cause a rash today if you use it and without having washed it off.  

What does poison ivy rash look like? It usually consists of multiple small blisters that may appear in a linear pattern.  Rash can appear anywhere on the body.  If you have such a rash seak medical attention to be sure that is infact the correct rash and to get treatment and relief.  Untreated poison ivy can last 2 weeks.  Oral, topical, and injectable cortico steroids is the best treatment in most cases. 

Author
Ashley Biggs PAS

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