Unexpected Sources of Poison Ivy or Oak Rash

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Have you ever had a rash from poison ivy, oak or sumac and had no idea how such a thing could have happened? You backtrack through your last few days of events. It just doesn't make sense how you could have possibly come in contact with a poison plant.  Well, you could be a victim of secondary contamination.

Poison ivy, oak and sumac rash is caused by a substance called urushiol. Urushiol is a resinous oil that is found on all parts of these plants including the stems, leaves and roots whether the plants are alive or dead. It is your body's allergic reaction to urushiol that causes the miserable, itching rash, and the severity of the rash will vary depending on your immune system. Because urushiol is an oily substance, it can adhere to many objects and be difficult to wash away. When you come in contact with these objects, you pick up the urushiol and it can turn into a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash.

Here are some of those common objects that may come in contact with urushiol:

  • Clothing - when you are out and about and you cross poison ivy, oak or sumac plants, urushiol can get onto your clothing. Consider washing clothing that may have been in contact with poison plants separately from other laundry.
  • Pets - all it takes is a run through poison ivy, oak or sumac and your furry pet has a layer of urushiol on its coat. The poison plant oil will sit on the fur until it is washed off.
  • Equipment - this can mean anything from a mountain bike to a weed whacker. Be cautious of equipment you are using while you are around poison ivy, oak or sumac.
  • Gardening tools - most of us don't think to clean off our gardening tools because we are using them in the dirt. Urushiol can sit on gardening tools for years if it is not washed off.

So what is a person to do if you suspect you have an object covered with poison ivy, oak or sumac oil? Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser can wash off poison plant oil from many of these objects. Check out our instructions or videos to learn how to use Tecnu Original.