What you may not know about poison ivy
Poison ivy is the dreaded plant we are taught to avoid from our earliest days of exploring the outdoors. But do we really know everything about it? There are many myths about the plant that many think are facts, and while some of them are relatively harmless, they could put you in more danger than if you would have accidentally exposed yourself to the plant. Let’s talk about what we know about the plant and what many may not know about it.
What most of us know about poison ivy
Poison ivy is part of a family of plants that contain urushiol. Approximately 90% of Americans are allergic to urushiol. While you can be immune to the oil now, sensitivity or even allergy to it could be developed over time with enough exposure. Here are some things you should know about urushiol:
- It can cause rashes with just one nanogram touching your skin (Source)
- 100 nanograms is the average amount of urushiol exposure when touching the plant (Source)
- The oil can remain active for up to five years on any surface (Source)
The plant is also difficult to identify in the wild because the shape of the leaves can vary, but a key identifier is usually that the leaves grow in groups of three. Some harmless plants look like poison ivy, but unless you’ve mastered identifying the plant, it would be best to avoid any plants you think might be poison ivy, oak, or sumac.
Popular myths about poison ivy
Some of these myths about poison ivy are relatively harmless, but some of them are more dangerous. Here are a few that we know:
- You can get rashes just by being near the plant - Actual contact with the plant is required to get urushiol on your skin and have an allergic reaction.
- Dead poison ivy is safe - Urushiol is highly potent. It can last years on any surface, and that includes dead plants.
- Once immune, always immune - You might think you're safe just because you’re one of the lucky 10-15% of the population seemingly resistant to urushiol. Unfortunately, sensitivity to the substance can develop over time if you’re exposed long enough.
- Poison ivy rash and liquid from the blister are infectious. - As long as you’ve washed off the oil with products such as Tecnu Original or Tecnu Extreme, the rash and the liquid from your blisters are not infectious.
Knowledge is the only way to fight the unknown
By knowing what poison ivy is and how to handle it, the plant becomes another thing to be cautious of, but not feared when spending time outdoors.
The best way to protect yourself when outdoors is to have a first aid kit handy, and every first aid kit needs options to handle outdoor itches. Tec Labs is the number one producer of poison ivy and oak removing and treatment products, keeping your time outdoors enjoyable!