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  Poison Ivy Myths

Myth: Poison Ivy is contagious.

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Fact: This is a partial myth. The poison ivy rash in itself in not contagious. By the time the rash appears, the urushiol oil has been absorbed into the skin or washed away. Therefore rubbing the rash won’t spread the oil to other parts of your body or to other people. But when the oil is on clothing, furniture, pets, or skin before the rash appears, the oil can rub off onto other parts of the body or onto other people. As a result of this secondary exposure, rashes can show up at strange times and places, leading people to believe that the initial rash is contagious. Now you know the truth: wherever there is urushiol oil, there is a chance of a rash.

Myth: Just being around the plants can give you poison ivy.

Fact: You have to come into direct contact with urushiol oil. Note that some activities can cause urushiol oil to become airborne and put you at risk, including plant particles carried by burning or lawnmowing.

Myth: Leaves of three, let them be

Fact: This is true for poison ivy and for poison oak. However there is another plant that produces skin-irritating oil, a tree-type shrub known as poison sumac, which has 7 to 13 leaves on a stem.

Myth: You don’t have to worry about dead plants.

Fact: Not true-the oil stays active on any surface, including dead plants, for up to five years.

Myth: You can spread urushiol oil by breaking your poison ivy blisters.

Fact: You can’t spread urushiol oil in this manner, but you should be concerned about infection and scarring. Consult your doctor in cases of excessive fluid buildup. Also be aware that scratching blisters while sleeping at night can lead to infection.


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