Is Age a Factor With Poison Ivy?

By Caileen  |  Wednesday, February 24, 2016  |   |  2 comments


Recently, while monitoring blog comments, I stumbled across an interesting two-part question that was submitted to one of our most popular posts, 6 Ways to Get Poison Ivy or Oak Without Touching the Plant. The reader asks, "Are young children more immune to poison ivy and do you have to be particularly sensitive to get a rash second or third hand?" Both equally great questions we are happy to answer!

Let's start with whether or not there is a correlation between age and poison ivy. To our knowledge, age is not a factor when it comes to a person's sensitivity to urushiol (the rash-causing oil found in poison oak, ivy, and sumac). According to our research, approximately 85% of the population is allergic to urushiol. Strangely, some individuals start off with a sensitivity to the plants, while others slowly develop a sensitivity over time with increased exposure. You may find that you can go out and roll around in a patch of poison ivy (we DO NOT recommend doing so) without repercussion now; but, there is a possibility that 5, 10, even 15 years down the road, you could develop an allergy and may no longer be able to roll around willy-nilly in luscious greenery when the mood strikes. It's one of the great physiological mysteries of the human body; right up there with the phenomenon of how some people can roll their tongues and others can't (some argue, a genetic trait). You just tried it, didn't you?

Now, onto whether a person's sensitivity is a factor when it comes to "second or third hand" contact, or as we call it, secondary contamination. Whether a person is highly sensitive or not, urushiol is a very strong, concentrated substance that does not evaporate. Coming into secondary contact with urushiol can often times have the same result as touching the plant itself. Also, as we've mentioned in other posts, urushiol can last for months, even YEARS on items such as clothing (think gloves and shoes that aren't regularly laundered), tools, yard equipment, fences, etc. Luckily, you can use Tecnu® to clean these items! Learn how, here!

Keep the poison ivy questions coming (poison oak and poison sumac too, remember, they all contain urushiol)!

Until next time,


Live life. Get outdoors.™

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2 comments for “Is Age a Factor With Poison Ivy?”

  1. Posted 3/17/2016 at 10:48:50 AM
    Gravatar of Dena Lowe

    Can I purchase this at WalMart or call you toll free for the Ivy medicine cream and the mosquitos cream??

  2. Posted 3/21/2016 at 2:33:43 PM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Dena, If you're referring to our Tecnu® brand products, you can find both at Walmart.

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