Poison ivy belongs to a group of plants that contain a poisonous oil called urushiol. For most people, coming into contact with urushiol means developing a red, itchy rash. Once people have come in contact with the poison ivy plant and develop a rash, it is common for them to worry about passing it along to other people. The reality is, the poison ivy rash itself is not contagious at all.
The poison ivy rash won’t spread to others through contact – it is the urushiol oil that can spread from person to person and cause a reaction. Urushiol is very sticky and adheres to skin, clothing, and anything it comes into contact with. Though poison ivy is not contagious, it can be transferred through direct touch with anything that has urushiol on it, such as a gardening tool or even a pet’s fur.
How to Prevent Your Rash From Spreading
The only way to prevent a poison ivy rash is to avoid coming into contact with the plant. You can do this by learning to identify poisonous plants and avoiding them or removing them from your yard. If you’ve already come into contact with a poisonous plant, you can prevent the spread of urushiol by:
- Washing your skin within 5-10 minutes of exposure to the plant.
- Cleaning contaminated objects like shoes, pants, and garden tools.
- Using a barrier cream to absorb the urushiol and lessen your symptoms.
For the most part, poison ivy can be treated at home using over the counter products such a calamine lotion or antihistamines to relieve the itch and discomfort. However, you should come to the nearest FastMed Urgent Care walk-in clinic if you see any of these symptoms:
- The rash has spread and covers a large section of your body.
- The rash is on your face or genital area.
- The itching is unbearable and affects concentration or sleep.
- There is an indication that the blisters are broken and infected.
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