Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked QuestionsHow does poison ivy work, how does poison ivy spread

Poison oak & poison ivy questions answered…

Alright outdoor adventurers, it's that time of year again! Time to brush up on your knowledge of all things outdoors as we gear up for yet another sunny season! Are you equipped with all of the essential information about Mother Nature's most common poison plants: poison oak, poison ivy, & poison sumac? As the trusted name in poison oak and ivy for over 50 years, we recommend that you know what the plants look like, what to do if you think you've been exposed, and how to treat a rash if it appears! Read through the most frequently asked questions below, study up, and hit the trails worry free this spring and summer!

Most commonly asked questions:

Q: How does poison ivy work?

A: When you come into contact with the poison oil (urushiol) from poison oak or poison ivy plants, an allergic reaction can occur. This reaction is known as allergic contact dermatitis (irritation of the skin) basically, a skin irritation caused by direct contact with an allergen. Approximately 3 out of 4 people are sensitive to urushiol.

Q: How does poison ivy spread?

A: Spreading of the rash is typically caused by continued contact with urushiol. Because urushiol does not evaporate, it can remain on items such as gardening tools, clothing, equipment, etc. for months, even years. Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser can be used to remove urushiol from these items as well as skin and even your pets!

Q: I've never had poison oak or poison ivy before, can I get it now?

A: Yes, you can begin getting poison ivy or oak rash at any time during your life.  Three out of four people are sensitive to poison oak and ivy.  Sensitivity is just a matter of being exposed enough times until the body becomes allergic to the poison oil (urushiol).  The rash can begin within a few hours after contact, or it can start three to five days later.

Q: What should I do if I've been, or think I've been exposed to poison ivy, oak, or sumac?

A: After exposure or suspected exposure it is best to wash with Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser or Tecnu Extreme Medicated Poison Ivy Scrub within 2-8 hours. The sooner, the better!

Q: Will the liquid from the blisters cause the rash to spread?

A: No, not if the oil has been removed from the skin.  The blisters are the body's natural allergic reaction to the initial contact with the urushiol oil.  The only thing that causes the rash is contact with urushiol oil.  The oozing from the blisters does not spread the rash.

Q: How long will a poison ivy rash last?

A: Mild cases of poison oak or poison ivy can last five to 12 days. More severe cases can last 30 days or longer. The length of a rash can vary from person to person and depends upon a person's sensitivity to the plant, amount of exposure, and how many times they've come into contact with plant in the past.

Q: How can I treat the itching and burning of my poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?

A: Luckily, Tec Labs has a few products you can choose from to treat the itching and irritation of your rash. For which Tecnu® brand product to use, check out this infographic.

It pays to be prepared! Don't let a rash from poison ivy, oak, or sumac ruin your next adventure, brush up on your poison plant knowledge, and always have your Tecnu products handy!

Live life. Get outdoors!™

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