What happens if poison ivy touches you?

If you scratch a poison ivy rash, bacteria under your nails can cause the skin to become infected. See your doctor if pus starts to come out of the blisters. Inhaling urushiol can cause severe shortness of breath and inflammation of the lining of the lungs. You may be able to avoid a rash by washing your skin with a poisonous plant wash and then rinsing well.

This is partly true, partly myth. Poison ivy rash itself is not contagious, according to the UAMS Dermatology Clinic. Fluid from blisters from a poison ivy rash won't spread poison ivy either. Poison ivy rash is caused by contact with urushiol, the oil in the leaves of the poison ivy plant.

Only urushiol can cause a poison ivy rash. Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are Native American plants. These plants cause an allergic reaction in most people who are exposed to them. To be allergic to poison ivy, you must contact the plant once for oil sensitization to occur.

This means that the next time you come into contact with the plant, a reaction can occur between 24 and 72 hours after exposure. An allergic reaction cannot be transmitted from one person to another by touching the blisters or by the liquid inside the blisters. However, it can spread if vegetable oils remain on skin, clothing, or shoes. Urushiol quickly penetrates the skin and often leaves red lines that show where the plant grazed.

Symptoms appear 24 to 72 hours after exposure. Scratching the itchy rash doesn't cause it to spread, but it can prolong healing of the skin and cause a secondary infection. The rash isn't contagious, so you won't spread it to others when you go to school or work. More than 4 in 5 people will develop an itchy, red, inflamed skin rash when they come in contact with poison ivy and its urushiol oil.

There are actually four poisonous plants in this group, since poison oak has a Western and an Eastern variation. Finding poison ivy is easy in the United States, where it grows virtually everywhere except Alaska, Hawaii, and some desert areas of the Southwest. You can also spread the oil to another person if it comes into contact with clothing that has been in contact with poison ivy. A rash occurs only where vegetable oil has been in contact with the skin, so a person with poison ivy cannot spread it through the body by scratching.

Calming burn treatment can also relieve itching and inflammation on skin affected by a poison ivy rash. The leaves of the poison ivy plant are green in summer, but may turn red, orange, or yellow in spring and fall. Poison ivy is native to every state except California, Alaska, and Hawaii, and can also be found in Central America, Mexico, and Canada. If you touch poison ivy with a pair of pants or a shirt and don't wash it after contact, you could develop another rash if you touch your clothes.

A number of other essential oils, such as calendula, chamomile, and eucalyptus, may be helpful in reducing symptoms of poison ivy rash. The sap of the poison ivy plant, also known as Toxicodendron radicans, contains an oil called urushiol.