Common Misconceptions About Treating Poison Ivy or Oak Rash

By Lisa  |  Thursday, August 2, 2012  |  , , , , ,  |  64 comments

computer guyIf you ever post a request on a social network or forum for help with a poison ivy or oak rash, you will get a whole lot of advice. Unfortunately, when it comes to poison ivy and oak there are many misconceptions about what you should do to treat the rash so "helpful advice" can become confusing. And these misconceptions about how to deal with the rash can cause more problems for you.

Here are a few that we come across quite often:

  • Use household bleach on your skin - Bleach can cause chemical burns, irritation and swelling when exposed to skin. It can also destroy melanin (pigment) in the body. Why would you want to put this on your already irritated skin? Stick to a cleanser designed to remove urushiol (the rash causing oil) like Tecnu.
  • Wash with very hot water - Some people will tell you to use very hot water when washing your poison ivy or oak rash because it feels good. The problem with using hot water is that it opens up the pores in your skin creating a pathway for urushiol to enter. Using cool water will keep the pores closed.
  • Not understanding why the rash is spreading - Most people think that the continuing spread of their rash is from the initial contact with the plant. However if you have a rash that is continuing to spread for weeks, you are coming in contact with the plant oil again. Look for sources of contact with the urushiol such as shoes, tools, or a pet that may have come in contact with the plant and are carrying the oil. Urushiol can stay potent on objects for years.
  • Breaking blisters - The blisters that form during a rash outbreak are part of your body's allergic response and do not contain the rash-causing oil. Blisters do not cause the rash to spread. The blisters should not be broken on purpose as it creates a potential point of entry for bacteria that could result in a skin infection. Keep blistered skin loosely covered with a bandage to help protect it.

What you do need to know is that there are two important steps that should be taken while treating poison ivy rash.

First, you need to remove the source of the rash from your skin. This is an oily substance found in all parts of the plant including leaves, stems, and roots called urushiol (pronounced ooh-roo-she-all). Because urushiol is an oil, traditional soap and water is not always enough to remove it and can sometimes result in spreading the oil around. A cleanser designed to break through the oil, such as Tecnu Original or Tecnu Extreme, will be more effective at removing urushiol from your skin.

Second, you need to treat the symptoms of the rash. The itching and burning sensation can be quite painful for some people, and some rashes can blister and ooze quite badly. Over-the-counter medications such as Calagel or Tecnu Rash Relief Spray can help alleviate the symptoms. If you have a very intense rash and the OTC medications are not enough for you, be sure to consult a doctor.

So remember the two steps to treating poison ivy and oak rash are remove the oil and treat the symptoms. If you need advice about what products to use, consult a medical professional such as a pharmacist, nurse or doctor.

The intention of this blog is to be an informational resource for our customers. We are not medical professionals and are not distributing medical advice. Any questions you have about your health should be directed to a physician. We want to hear from you and welcome your comments - please note all comments submitted will be moderated and we reserve the right to refuse to publish any comment that may be negative, contain foul language, suggest medical advice, or offer tips that may be harmful to our readers. It is not our intention to defame, purge, discriminate or humiliate any party directly or indirectly in any way. We do not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any information or content contained on, distributed through, or linked, downloaded or accessed from any of the services contained on this website. If you have a question or concern that must be replied to right away, please call 1-800-482-4464.

64 comments for “Common Misconceptions About Treating Poison Ivy or Oak Rash”

  1. Posted 8/7/2012 at 8:42:02 AM
    Gravatar of Elaine H Schachter

    the information is excellent and written in a way that anyone can understand. thanks

  2. Posted 8/7/2012 at 8:55:43 AM
    Gravatar of Margaret

    As ever thanks for the information. I got a really bad case of poison oak that needed medical attention about 2 years ago. Now I am ever so careful if I am getting close to any source of contact (live on 4 acres with plenty of poison oak in the thicket) and use TECHNU products if I suspect contact. I am curious, is poison oak reaction same as bee sting? If I inadvertantly come in contact will I respond as that huge outbreak years ago or could it be possible it was just such a massive dose of oil (clearing dead brush pile I am sure). Thanks for the help and info!

  3. Posted 8/13/2012 at 1:03:39 PM
    Gravatar of Lisa

    We can't predict what your reaction would be the next time you are in contact with the plant. People react differently depending on their body's immune system at that moment when coming in contact with urushiol.

  4. Posted 9/1/2012 at 11:17:02 AM
    Gravatar of Lori

    I am so thrilled that I came across the Calagel/Tecnu combo pack at Walmart yesterday! I had been using Ivarest as I thought I graduated from Caladryl...I got poison all over the inside of my arms last Saturday and have been MISERABLE! I put Calagel on as soon as I got home and got immediate relief! I can't thank you enough for this wonderful product! It started to dry up immediately and I actually was able to sleep through the night last night.

  5. Posted 9/9/2012 at 1:42:45 PM
    Gravatar of Danny

    The best thing that I have had success with is to take a long cool/cold shower with tecnu, tecnu extreme or zanphel. After that wash everything that you were wearing with mild soap and water and don't forget your boots. If your going to scrub your boots down try to wear rubber gloves if possible. Take as many showers as you can to ensure your getting all the oil off and also your drying out your skin which for me speeds up the whole poison oak process. After I take a few cool showers I crank up the heat in the shower which gives me about 3-4 hours of relief. I am exposed to poison oak on a regular basis as a Hotshot (Wildland Firefighter), in just about every beautiful county in the U.S. that sits below the 5000' level. On average I get between 1-2 prednisone shots a year and always have my prescription prednisone tablets on me and after 10 years as a Hotshot the best advise I can share is to know what it looks like in all it's different forms, stay out of it if possible, don't inhale smoke off of burning poison oak and wash everything you come in contact with as much as you can.

  6. Posted 10/14/2012 at 12:17:21 PM
    Gravatar of TDP

    I agree with the reasoning in "no hot water" - when cleaning the area of exposure the first and second time. After a couple of cool water & soap washes and 24-48 hours - the exposure is set and the excess oils will have likely been washed away (assuming no continuing indirect exposure). From that exposure +48hr point forward... Treating the body's continuing histamine reaction is generally the focus of the victims efforts.

    The hot water therapy used in that "post-cleanup +48hrs" context is very useful... It seems to trigger the "mass consumption", or "use up" all the itch inducing potential of the histamines in the affected locations that are treated with the hot water... and all at once. It is an intense thing... the hot water initially causes an insane amount of itching in the heated areas... But it subsides within a few seconds to minutes, and is usually followed by hours of comfort... during which the body slowly rebuilds the histamine levels. It even reduces the hard raised stiffness of the exposure sites... For several hours.

  7. Posted 8/14/2013 at 5:20:50 AM
    Gravatar of Barry

    Got Poison Ivy over the weekend weeding on both arms. Tried several products before and nothing works like Calagel to relieve itchiness for 6-8 hours. Finally got a good sleep last night! Plus doesn't drip or stain clothes. Great product. Wish I used the tecnu right away but I'll know next time. It's great to use a product that actually does what it claims to do. Thanks for creating and marketing such a great product!

  8. Posted 7/20/2014 at 5:25:31 PM
    Gravatar of Cathy

    Is it true that the oozing liquid can spread the poison oil to creat and spread more rash spots?

  9. Posted 8/8/2014 at 9:43:49 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Cathy: No, the liquid that oozes from the blisters caused by poison oak or poison ivy does not contain the rash-causing oil, urushiol. If you notice new rash spots appearing, it is possible that you could be coming into contact with urushiol and experiencing what we call secondary contamination and should be cleaned. Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser can be used on all of these items to remove urushiol.

  10. Posted 8/8/2014 at 8:36:56 PM
    Gravatar of Michael

    Hi, I was exposed to poison ivy on Monday while clearing brush. I immediately washed with soapy water and continued clear for another hour. I first noticed spots coming up on Tuesday and by Wednesday it was getting worse despite having eliminated any possible additional exposure (I left town with clean clothes on Tuesday). Today (Friday) I woke up with new blisters on my torso, arms, scalp, and other (unmentionable) parts. Is it possible that the urushoil is in my body and reactions are randomly occurring...or that it takes 3-4 or more days for blisters to develop? What's going on? Thanks!

  11. Posted 8/10/2014 at 12:50:10 PM
    Gravatar of lenore

    its the sixth day since the first rash appeared and new rashes keep coming, another one this camping clothes, shoes
    and sleeping bag are not in my house at this time. is there contamination on my sheets, pillowcases, bedclothes? I am freaking out and in so much pain...the itching in middle of night is a nightmare
    could be that I am scratching in my sleep? comments will be appreciated

  12. Posted 8/14/2014 at 8:12:13 AM
    Gravatar of caileen

    Michael: Urushiol, the rash-causing oil from poison ivy is very difficult to remove, and often soap and water are not enough to do the trick. Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser is able to bond with the oil and remove it from the skin's surface. At this point, it sounds like your body has already absorbed the majority of the oil you came into contact with and in turn, has broken out in a rash. It might not be a bad idea to wash with Tecnu at this point, just in case you have any oil remaining on your skin. As for breaking out a few days after exposure, that is a very common reaction for most folks; also, on average, a poison oak or poison ivy rash can last approximately 2 weeks.

  13. Posted 8/14/2014 at 8:22:45 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Lenore: Yes, it is very important to wash your bedding and towels. It is possible that they may have urushiol on them, and are continuing to expose you. For those items, we recommend washing through two cycles in the washing machine with warm/hot water and a heavy-duty detergent like Tide®. This will help remove any urushiol that may still be on them. You may also consider wiping down your steering wheel and seats in your car with Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser. Spot test first to make certain the surface doesn't discolor. Tecnu is available at Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, & Dollar General. To help with the itching and irritation, you might want to consider a topical anti-itch such as Calagel or Tecnu Rash Relief Spray. Both are available at the previously mentioned stores.

  14. Posted 8/15/2014 at 3:31:22 AM
    Gravatar of Brittany

    Hello, is it possible that the oils could be on my couch? It is a microfiber suede type couch, other than taking the cushion covers off and cleaning, how would I treat the couch such as the back and arm of the couch as they are not remove able? I too am having new spots appear.

  15. Posted 8/18/2014 at 10:06:16 PM
    Gravatar of Kim

    Hi. I believe I pulled a vine in my flower bed that was poison ivy, so I immediately washed with soap and water, then drenched my hands and arms with rubbing alcohol (mentioned on some web sites). I then ran to the store and bought Tecnu wash and applied it all within an hour - two hours after exposure. I am fearful of developing a rash and worse for me, the itch, because I will be on a cruise in 10 days!! I don't want this to ruin an expensive and beyond needed vacation. Do you think the symptoms can be avoided due to the quick response time? Thank you for hopefully any good news!

  16. Posted 8/19/2014 at 8:15:18 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Brittany: It is certainly possible that urushiol has been transferred to your couch, and you are experiencing secondary contamination. Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser can be used to remove urushiol oil from surfaces such as your couch, car seats, etc. We do however, recommend spot treating in an inconspicuous are with Tecnu first, to test for color fastness. If no discoloration is noticed, you can follow the directions to wipe-down your couch. Be sure to follow up with a water-saturated cloth after to remove any excess Tecnu.

  17. Posted 8/26/2014 at 11:21:26 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Kim: It's great that you were able to wash up immediately after exposure. However, we never recommend using rubbing alcohol as it can be harsh on the skin, and is not known to help avoid developing a rash. Washing with Tecnu® Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser sooner rather than later is great as well. Typically, if you can wash within the first 8 hours after exposure with Tecnu, it can remove the rash-causing oil. If a rash does develop and the itching begins, Tecnu Rash Relief Spray can help relieve itching, as well as promote healing. Also, keep in mind, the average poison oak or poison ivy rash lasts approximately 2 weeks.

  18. Posted 8/29/2014 at 6:57:30 PM
    Gravatar of Rhona

    My daughter's dog sat on my lap and was rubbing her head lovingly on my neck . The next day I started to itch, and broke out with a rash on my left cheek, and neck. It has now spread all around and in my left ear, into my scalp, or my left eye lid and brow, down my jaw line and under my chin. It has also spread onto my chest. Is it possible that the dog rubbed against poison ivy, the got the poison on me. It is red, bumpy with blisters. I want to rip my skin off. My Dr sent me a med pac, and I've been using Caladril, Cort open ointment, and Benedryl. Nothing has helped. Any auggestions?

  19. Posted 10/1/2014 at 11:19:06 AM
    Gravatar of Herman

    After 3 weeks I've still got large itchy rashes esp inside of thighs and armpits. I've been taking prednisone, applying calamine and taking oatmeal baths. How long can the rashes and itchiness last and is there anything else I can do to shorten the healing time. Thanks

  20. Posted 10/7/2014 at 9:40:23 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Rhona: Yes, it is very common for pets to rub up against poison oak or poison ivy plants and transfer the oil to humans when we pet or come into contact with them. In fact, Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser can be used to remove urushiol (the rash-causing oil) from: skin, tools, clothing, and your pets! As far as the rash you currently have, following your Dr.'s recommendation is always best. If the over-the-counter topical products you've tried aren't working well for you, you may consider our product, Calagel Medicated Anti-itch Gel, but be sure to avoid contact in or around the eyes.

  21. Posted 10/7/2014 at 10:29:51 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Herman: It sounds like you've got it bad! If you're taking Prednisone, I can assume you've been to your doctor (which is what we would recommend). If the topical creams you are using don't seems to be doing the trick, I would recommend our product Calagel Medicated Anti-Itch Gel. Although Calagel doesn't shorten the healing time, it will help relieve the itch while you go through the natural healing process. You may also consider Tecnu Rash Relief Spray, which provides relief from painful itching and also promotes healing. You can find both products at Walgreens and CVS. As far as the duration of a rash, it varies from person to person. On Average, a poison oak/ivy rash will last approx. 2 weeks, in more severe cases they can last a month or longer. We'd recommend staying in contact with your doctor until you get through this!

  22. Posted 12/14/2014 at 7:13:43 PM
    Gravatar of Brett

    Are you sure that hot water is bad? I have had a poison oak rash on my left wrist and my ankles, and when I run pretty hot water over it it feels really good and the relief lasts a good 3 hours. I asked my doctor about it too and read online somewhere else that it releases a lot of histamine in one big burst and then takes a while to build back up.


  23. Posted 12/22/2014 at 7:50:32 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Brett: Hot water isn't bad per say, we just don't recommend it for the first wash after exposure to poison ivy; hot water opens the pores which can allow the urushiol (rash-causing oil) to seep into the pores, potentially causing a worse reaction. After the first wash with Tecnu or Tecnu Extreme it is OK to use hot water, and in most cases, the hot water can help soothe itching.

  24. Posted 5/26/2015 at 8:44:34 AM
    Gravatar of Gary

    Thanks so much for this article, I had actually been wearing socks 24/7 (including sleeping) thinking that would prevent the spread of the poison ivy/oak on my feet. Now it's on my hands and ears, and now I know I must still be getting in contact with residue maybe on clothes that I wore or possibly even my pillow. Thanks again wish I would'v read this 3 weeks ago.

  25. Posted 6/8/2015 at 2:58:57 PM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Gary, we are sorry to hear about your struggle with poison ivy! It is entirely possible that you are coming into contact with urushiol from your sheets, towels, clothing, etc. A degreasing detergent is recommended. This will help remove any urushiol that may be on the items helping you to avoid secondary contact!

  26. Posted 6/10/2015 at 2:14:01 PM
    Gravatar of Kathy

    Came in contact w pi or po,24 hrs later ,prednisone shot..extreme rash,on arm,starting on face and back of neck,following up w/ prednisone pills and Benadryl cream.Used baking soda compress on the arm ,raised blisters to the what?

  27. Posted 6/19/2015 at 11:19:06 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Kathy, it sounds as though you have pretty severe reactions to poison ivy/poison oak and that you have also received excellent medical care. We would recommend following your physician's plan of care. Best of luck, we hope you are healed soon!

  28. Posted 6/23/2015 at 9:16:43 AM
    Gravatar of Peter

    I think I have poison ivy, 30 minutes later after I walk on grass and somehow did not recognize the poison ivy might be there. I started itchy and see the size of a mosquitoes bites, I told a cold shower told and yesterday but I fear I may be too late and it may keep spreading. I have put cortizone on myself to help with the itch. The itch has gone down and so did the size but I'm still not sure. Do you have an idea if I still have it?

  29. Posted 6/25/2015 at 4:07:28 PM
    Gravatar of Michael

    Like a previous commenter said, your stance on hot water treatment is incompletecomplete. After ensuring the oil is off my body, hot water is the ONLY treatment I useuse and it works like a charm. I work outside and get poison ivy all the time.

  30. Posted 7/3/2015 at 12:11:33 PM
    Gravatar of Clare

    I contracted poison oak just before I left home in CA to go to Ireland. I didn't realize it was poison oak before I left beta aisle it took a couple of days to develop. Now I'm in Ireland and they have NO Tecnu or Calagel or Zantec. What to do? And what should I wash my socks and shoes in? The poison oak is on my feet.

  31. Posted 7/4/2015 at 10:10:06 PM
    Gravatar of Joel Stinson

    Is it better to let my rash air out or keep it bandage up. Or should I only do it when I'm sleeping?

  32. Posted 7/8/2015 at 12:21:39 PM
    Gravatar of Steve

    I was at the lake and my dog and I had a wrestling match and I got an unbelievable dose of poison ivy rash/blisters over 40% of my body. 6weeks of steriods and sleeping on plastic sheets(broken blisters) and I finally was able to return to work. I was almost hospitalized the Dr said he had never seen poison ivy like that. BE CAREFUL

  33. Posted 7/14/2015 at 8:30:27 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Ouch, Steve! It sounds like you react quite severely to poison ivy, and you did the right thing by seeking professional medical attention. We are glad to hear you have finally recovered!

  34. Posted 7/14/2015 at 8:51:32 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Peter, it may not be poison ivy. If it is, on average, a poison oak or poison ivy rash can last anywhere from 2-4 weeks. If your reaction worsens, we'd recommend contacting your physician.

  35. Posted 7/14/2015 at 8:57:45 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Michael, I think there is some confusion over our stance on hot water. When washing for the first time after exposure to poison oak or poison ivy, washing with cool water helps to keep the pores closed so that the rash-causing oil, urushiol isn't absorbed. Warm/hot water after the first wash with a cleanser such as Tecnu (removes urushiol), is certainly ok, and many feel it does help combat itching.

  36. Posted 7/14/2015 at 9:11:01 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Clare, we would recommend visiting a pharmacy there and asking a pharmacist for a recommendation. We are not familiar with products they carry in Ireland. As for your shoes and socks, it would be best to wash them if you can. Warm/hot water is best, through two full cycles in the washing machine, with a detergent that is tough on grease. If you can't wash them, it would be best not to wear them until you have access to a washer.

  37. Posted 7/14/2015 at 9:14:15 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Joel, oxygen is an important component of the healing process, so it is best to leave the rash uncovered. However, if you are experiencing weeping or oozing and prefer to have it covered, loose bandages will do.

  38. Posted 7/19/2015 at 7:01:48 AM
    Gravatar of jorge

    I was cutting little branches around my air conditioning i think it was posin oak i have been itching with blisters on my arm and stomach areas what can i put on it

  39. Posted 7/21/2015 at 4:35:39 PM
    Gravatar of Judy

    My husband and I came in contact with poison oak through our dog. Everyday we got worse. Saw the pharmacist and she told us what to do. My husband ended up with it in his throat because he smokes cigars and he pets the dog then smokes and what a mess. Very long and painful recovery. He ended up in the hospital ER. I still have the marks on me. I am hoping they go away soon. I has been a month now.

  40. Posted 7/22/2015 at 5:41:32 PM
    Gravatar of Jodi

    My kids and I cut down a field a few weeks ago and we all broke out with the poison ivy rash. Went to dr and started all of us on steroids and the kids are cleared up. I ended the steroids 4 days ago and now the rash is under my arms and between my legs and I'm back to itching like crazy. Is this normal or should I re wash everything? Everyone else is cleared up except me

  41. Posted 7/23/2015 at 8:25:10 AM
    Gravatar of Mary

    Thank you for your comments. I have battled poison ivy most of this year. Been to Dr. Prednisone did not help as well as a 6 day pack. My dog brings it in and I do not know where it is. I wonder if I need to find a new home for my little dog. I'm miserable. Face, neck, arms torso. Any suggestions?

  42. Posted 7/27/2015 at 2:43:37 PM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Jorge, it sounds as if there is a good chance you did in fact come into contact with poison oak. We have a few products you can use to help with the itching: Tecnu Extreme, Calagel, Corticool, & Rash Relief Spray. All 4 products can be used on affected areas, just follow label directions.

  43. Posted 7/27/2015 at 2:55:49 PM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Judy, what an awful experience! We are glad to hear that your husband sought medical attention from an ER physician for such a serious reaction. Best of luck, we hope you get better soon!

  44. Posted 7/27/2015 at 3:02:16 PM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Jodi, I'm sorry to hear that you are still suffering from the rash. Being that steroids didn't clear your rash up, we would recommend contacting the prescribing physician for the proper course of treatment from here. As for washing bedding, towels, etc. it couldn't hurt. Run everything through 2 cycles in the washing machine, in warm/hot water, with a detergent that is tough on grease such as Tide®.

  45. Posted 7/27/2015 at 3:05:41 PM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Mary, we are so sorry to hear about your troubles with poison ivy. How frustrating! Have you tried washing your pup with Tecnu® Original to remove the urushiol (rash-causing oil) before coming inside?

  46. Posted 8/3/2015 at 10:51:30 AM
    Gravatar of Dave

    I was getting reintroduced to the oil on the back of my legs from my car seat. Dont forget to wash that down too, especially if you have fabric seats like my Fusion does.

  47. Posted 8/29/2015 at 1:19:52 AM
    Gravatar of Liz

    I have been battling poison ivy for about a week and a half. Finally went for a prednisone shot yesterday and am feeling better. I have the clothes separated and will wash with Tide as you advise. Is there a Technu product that can be sprayed onto my sneakers . They are leather and fabric and should not go in the washing machine.

  48. Posted 8/31/2015 at 9:05:12 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Liz, you can actually use Tecnu® to clean your sneakers. Saturate a cloth in Tecnu®, wipe down the affected area, let it sit for a couple of minutes, then follow up with a cloth saturated in water to remove any excess Tecnu®. To test for color fastness, we always recommend testing a small, inconspicuous area first to be sure it won't discolor the material.

  49. Posted 9/8/2015 at 2:46:31 PM
    Gravatar of Charlsi

    This article has been informative however I have always been under the impression rashes that continue to emerge over time is based on the amount of exposure. So a part of your body that was exposed to the most oil for the longest time will show up first and be the worst. Less exposed areas of skin can show up days later. All from the initial contact. Some Areas of skin just absorbed more oil than the others.

  50. Posted 9/9/2015 at 2:34:24 PM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Response: Yes, that is a possibility. Also, keep in mind, some areas of the body have thicker skin than others. Meaning, those areas where the skin is thicker, can take longer to absorb the oil and form a rash. You might find this information page helpful:

  51. Posted 9/24/2015 at 10:11:31 AM
    Gravatar of Kim

    I visited my family in Kentucky and the neighbor dog sat in my lap a few hours before I got on my flight back to California. I didn't know I had poison oak for a couple days after. I wore the same jeans for a second day after I showered normally. Once I realized what was happening I washed all my clothes & stripped my bed & pillow cases including a blanket I had carried on the plane with me.I also have been fighting an upper respiratory infection & I have a autoimmune disease known as Ankylosing Spondylitis. I usually wash dark clothes in cold water with Tide especially since they are still new & I didn't want the dyes in the clothes to bleed. I was told by my pharmacist to avoid going outside in the heat or sun & take cold shower's. Now I'm worried that since everything I washed was done in cold water & now from reading this site that I have to be worried it is on my sheets still? And what if I sat on my my all these areas possibly contaminants now?? It's been a week since the original contact & I have used cortisone cream and oral benadryl to sleep. I have tried covering the blisters & leaving them uncovered to expose to air.Can't get Band-Aids to stay on.As soon as I begin sweating they fall off. I was told u can't cause spreading from secondary sources... only the original clothes worn - I thought I was being extra cautious by doing my bedding. Worried & confused now?! I also wasn't told that keys or other items that are non absorbent could have any oils on them. What is the truth here? Can I shave my legs were some of the blisters are? The hair is growing out which is making the itching worse & the Band-Aids just fall off. Can I use rubbing alcohol to get the bandages to stick better? Touching the blisters are not supposed to be a way to cause the blisters to spread so how can all the other items of clothes or places in my home that I laid on supposedly cause additional spreading? Seems contradictory or at the very least confusing & frustrating to know what else I need to do?

  52. Posted 9/24/2015 at 10:14:57 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Kim, there are a lot of questions here. So let's start with laundering: all items such as sheets, towels, clothing, etc. that may have come into contact with urushiol should be washed in warm or hot water, with a tough-on-grease detergent such as Tide®, and run through two cycles in the washing machine. This will help remove any urushiol that may be on these items. Cold water is not recommended for washing. The pharmacist recommended a cold shower likely to help you avoid opening your pores and absorbing more urushiol. However, once you've broken out in a rash, it is likely that all the urushiol on the skin has been absorbed. Hot showers are ok at this point, and may help with itching. Leaving the rash uncovered if possible, is best. Allowing oxygen to the rash helps with the healing process. If you must cover the rash, a loose bandage is recommended (think, an Ace® bandage wrap). Secondary contamination is definitely possible. Urushiol can stick to anything it comes into contact with. Did you know that Tecnu® can be used to clean these items? As for shaving your legs in regards to the blisters, it is best to avoid breaking them.

  53. Posted 9/24/2015 at 1:09:31 PM
    Gravatar of Chris

    I broke out with a rash on my stomach of all places with little blisters, just thought whatever I'll leave it alone. Three says later same type of rash ended up on my back same height as the one on my chest. After some research Im thinking somehow I have come in contact with poison ivy or oak. I golf a lot so somehow I must have gotten into some. I found it weird the 2 places it popped up but there is no other explanation as to what it is. If it does not get any better with a week or so, I will go see a doctor. I have been putting hydrocortizone on a guaze pad and putting that over the area. Should I just leave the rash open to air under my shirt?

    Thank you

  54. Posted 10/7/2015 at 7:42:10 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Chris, leaving a rash uncovered is best, if possible. Allowing oxygen to the affected area will aid the healing process. If you must cover it due to weeping of any blisters, we'd suggest a loose bandage, such as an Ace® bandage wrap.

  55. Posted 10/18/2015 at 9:45:41 PM
    Gravatar of Mary

    I think I got poision ivy from my dogs not sure but I am around my grandkids 3yrs old a 3 was old it is on my left ankle,chest,under my chin and on my right forearm can the grandkids get the poison ivy from me I hope not I would feel horrible if they got this

  56. Posted 10/22/2015 at 8:31:22 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Mary, if you've already broken out in a rash, it is likely that all of the urushiol (rash-causing oil) has been absorbed into your system and is no longer on the surface of your skin. A person must come into contact with the urushiol to develop a rash (if they have a sensitivity to it). Did you know that you can wash your dog in Tecnu® Original to remove the oil from its coat? Tencu® can also be used on skin, clothing, & tools. You can find it at Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, & Dollar General.

  57. Posted 11/2/2015 at 12:04:45 PM
    Gravatar of HB

    I have poison oak and it started to appear about 7 days after my trip/exposure. This is the 2nd week of poison oak. I'm glad you are saying a typical case of oak is ~2+ weeks. My question is I'm fairly certain my hiking boots are contaminated with the oil. How do I treat/wash my hiking boots and backpack? Do I throw them away?

  58. Posted 11/13/2015 at 12:48:19 PM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    HB, you can use Tecnu® Original to remove the urushiol (rash-causing oil) from these items. We recommend testing a small, inconspicuous area at first to make sure it will not discolor or negatively affect the material. After testing a small area, we recommend the following process: saturate a cloth in Tecnu, wipe down the affected items, let the product sit for a couple of minutes. Next, follow up by wiping down the items with a cloth saturated in water to remove any excess Tecnu.

  59. Posted 2/26/2016 at 12:08:57 PM
    Gravatar of Mike

    Good posting for sure....I'm two weeks out from my poison oak exposure, this stuff is relentless. Had to get oral prednisone last week due to leg swelling. My initial touch points (knees) are easing up, but I seem to have spread the oil to my back, ankle, waist likely when I washed or dried myself. I agree warm water feels reallyyyy good. At some point this itching goes away, right? I'm thinking my sheets, towels, not sure what else is transferring this oil back onto me.....did I mention this stuff is relentless?
    PS I learned that I need to be more aggressive with Technu at exposure - I was just wiping down with a dime/quarter amount trying to save the lotion. I think you need to be free flowing with Technu to ensure you're getting as much oil as possible!

  60. Posted 3/21/2016 at 12:58:19 PM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Mike, you're right, poison oak and ivy can be relentless! We're glad to hear that you received the proper care for your rash. The length of time a rash and it's accompanying itch can hang around varies from person to person. We agree, you certainly should use enough Tecnu to appropriately cover the affected area (i.e. you're want to use more to wash your legs than you would to wash the back of your hand).

  61. Posted 6/1/2016 at 5:23:59 AM
    Gravatar of Sharon

    I am on day 4 after exposure and am still breaking out. Itching is beyond annoying and keeping me up at night. Would it still be beneficial to shower with the Tecnu Extreme? Or should I just get the Tecnu Anti-itch or Calagel? I have never used your products before, but my pharmacist recommended.

  62. Posted 6/2/2016 at 1:03:06 PM
    Gravatar of Lisa

    Hi Sharon. We have several products that you can try, it will be a matter of choosing the one that works best for you. Please remember we guarantee our products so if you find they don't help you can return them. Please be sure to keep your receipt.

    1) Tecnu Extreme is a medicated scrub that removes the oil that causes the rash and also applies a homeopathic medication to help reduce the itching. If your rash is not spreading you may not need Tecnu Extreme. We have other products that just focus on stopping the itch and pain.

    2) Calagel is a medicated anti-itch gel similar to a clear calamine lotion. It will help relieve the itching, reduce the swelling, and dry oozing from the rash. It also contains an antiseptic to help prevent an infection. Calagel is also great for insect bites and other minor rashes. One thing to note, if you are allergic to sulfites, you do not want to use Calagel.

    3) Tecnu Rash Relief Spray can help relieve itching, promotes healing, and helps prevent scarring. It is a homeopathic anti-itch medication that you can spray on as often as needed.

    I would recommend trying one of these. Most pharmacies have them on hand, and on each product page we list the retailers that carry them. Please note though that even though a retailer is listed we cannot guarantee they have it in stock at all locations.

    This chart may also help you select the right product

  63. Posted 6/28/2016 at 5:44:12 PM
    Gravatar of Jim Fink

    how often should one re-apply Tecnu Extreme medicated scrub after a first treatment.

  64. Posted 7/8/2016 at 10:21:48 AM
    Gravatar of Lisa

    Hi Jim,
    After using Tecnu Extreme the first time, the urushiol (rash-causing oil) should be removed. You can wash with Tecnu Extreme to help relieve itching as often as needed afterwards. If you find you need additional relief for itching, or if the itching is returning frequently, we recommend using Tecnu Rash Relief Spray or Calagel Anti-itch Gel.

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