Poison Ivy Contagious

Is Poison Ivy Contagious?

The poison ivy plant is poisonous, certainly, but contagious? No, not once the oil has been washed off. Once the poisonous oil that causes the rash has been washed off of the skin, the rash itself will not spread through contact with another person’s skin nor will the rash be spread to other areas of the body that did not have previous contact with the poison ivy plant itself. When a person still has the oil on their skin they can transfer it to another person or to other parts of their own body where it will cause a rash.

Poison ivy can also spread through contact with objects are contaminated with the oil so be sure to wash tools and other equipment that may have touched the plant. Also beware of dogs and cats that may have been exposed to poison ivy. They may not get a rash due to their thick fur but you will!

One relatively new method for avoiding poison ivy is to block it with Ivy Block. This helps the wearer from being affected by poison ivy but the oils can still be transferred to other people and objects.

Anyone who may have been in contact with poison ivy should wash off the oil right away. First, if available use rubbing alcohol to remove the oil from your skin. Next, use soap and water to rinse thoroughly. Do not scrub! For more information about how to wash away the oil and treat poison ivy, see WebMD.

If you have them on hand, use a product like Tec Labs Tecnu Outdoor Skin Cleanser to remove the poison ivy oil from people and objects that came into contact with it. This will keep the poison ivy oil from spreading to others and, if caught soon enough, from causing a rash. Zanfel Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac Wash claims to be able to stop the rash even after the oil has set in but reviews by users are mixed.

Poison Ivy Treatment

Treatment is relatively easy. It is important to wash the infected areas with soap and water as soon as possible. You may relieve the pain with a cold compress. Over the counter antihistamines can help relieve symptoms and calamine lotion can reduce the pain. Ivy Dry is effective for reducing the itching and oozing. For serious exposure to poison ivy, or for people who are severely allergic to urushiol, further medical treatment may be required. Symptoms for these types of reactions are swelling of the face (mouth, eyelids), neck and genitals or the appearance of large, fluid-filled blisters on the skin. Whether your reaction to the plant is severe or mild, poison ivy is not contagious and the spread of the rash to others need not be a concern. If you have a severe reaction, visit your doctor right away. A doctor can prescribe more powerful medication to treat poison ivy such as steroid creams and pills.

What are the Symptoms of Poison Ivy?

When the body reacts to the allergens in the poison ivy sap, it causes a rash to develop. The rash can appear as red streaks, and may be accompanied by hives and blisters. The rash will be inflamed and it will be itchy. Posion ivy is not contagious once the poison oil has been washed away. It will not transfer to another person or household pet and you will not spread it to other parts of your body by touching the infected areas. The symptoms of poison ivy can appear as soon as eight hours after contact but has been known to be dormant for up to two weeks before showing. While poison ivy is not contagious, subsequent contacts with the plant will cause the symptoms to show at a much quicker rate and can cause a much worse reaction.

What is Poison Ivy?

Poison ivy, also known by the more scientific name, Toxicodendron radicans, is a poisonous plant found in the forests and wooded areas of North America. Although it is found in both a creeping and climbing vine form, it is not truly a part of the ivy family and is sometimes classified as a noxious weed. Poison oak and poison sumac are similar species. Each of these variants of the plant can be found in North America from Canada to Mexico. It is abundant along the Atlantic Coast in the United States from New England down to the southeastern states. It does not grow in dry or arid desert conditions nor can it grow at altitudes above 4,900 feet. Poison ivy can typically be found on the edge of forest growth. Poison ivy grows in several forms. It can grow as a climbing vine that will attach itself to trees, as a trailing vine growing along the forest floor, or as a shrub or small, tree-like plant.

The poison ivy plant produces an oily substance called urushiol. It secrets this compound in its sap. When urushiol comes into contact with the skin it causes an allergic reaction or  contact dermatitis. The affected areas may become red, itchy and painful to the touch. Inflammation will occur. Poison ivy is not contagious and can be treated easily at home.

Identifying the poison ivy or poison oak plant, is relatively easy and there a few old sayings to help you recognize the plant. Remember these when you are hiking or camping in the woods:

  • Leaves of three, let it be – the poison ivy plant contains three leaves per stem, the stem with the three leaflets is then attached to a larger stem which will contain other leaflets.
  • Longer middle stem; stay away from them – the middle leaflet will be attached to a longer stem than the other two leaves of three.
  • Hairy vine, no friend of mine – the climbing poison ivy vine contains hundreds of small hairlike appendages branching out from the base of the vine. These are very toxic to humans.

Three leaves:

Poison Ivy Contagious

Hairy stem:

Poison Ivy Vine