Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for poison ivy or oak rash, and the healing process can be slow and frustrating. Your skin’s reaction to poison ivy plants (or, poison oak, poison sumac) is called contact dermatitis. This condition can cause itching, redness, swelling, and even blisters. Because there isn’t a cure for poison ivy rash, it’s a matter of treating the symptoms and letting the rash run its course.

First Signs of a Rash

After exposure to the rash-causing resin (urushiol) found in poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac plants, a rash can start to form within 24-48 hours. For those who are extremely sensitive to the resin, a rash can start within just a few hours. Aside from the symptoms listed above, in some instances, a poison ivy sufferer will notice what appear to be small scratches at the start of a break out. These are often confused with a simple “trail scrape” from non-poisonous brush, but is actually the start of a poison ivy rash.

How to Treat

First, and most importantly, the urushiol needs to be removed from the skin as soon as possible using a cleanser such as Tecnu®. If a rash begins to develop, use an anti-itch treatment such as Calagel® Medicated Anti-Itch Gel, or Tecnu® Rash Relief Spray. If you experience little to no improvement after 10-14 days, contact your doctor for an appropriate treatment. Cases that last 2 weeks or longer can occasionally require injectable or topical steroids prescribed by a healthcare professional.

How to Prevent

The best defense against poison ivy rash is to familiarize yourself with the plants and what they look like, that way you’ll be able to avoid contact with them. Additionally, wearing long pants and sleeves whenever possible is best, as covering exposed skin can reduce your risk of a break out. Last, using a cleanser specifically designed to remove urushiol such as Tecnu®, can help remove the resin before it bonds with the skin to form a rash; time is of the essence, wash within 8 hours for best results.

 
 

It all boils down to the skin's reaction to a nasty little oil called urushiol (ooh-roo-she-all). Urushiol is found in all parts of the poison ivy, oak and sumac plants. When urushiol gets on the skin it binds to the skin within 10-20 minutes. At that point the urushiol becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get off the skin with soap and water. The rash from poison ivy, oak and sumac is the body's natural reaction to the allergen. Contact with this annoying oil produces a rash in three out of four people. The rash can begin within a few hours after contact, or it can start three to five days later.

 
 

Poison Ivy:Where does poison ivy grow

Grows throughout much of North America, including all Canadian provinces except Newfoundland (and the Territories) and all US states except Alaska, Oregon, Hawaii and California. The plants can grow as a shrub up to about 4 feet tall, as a groundcover, or as a climbing vine. The color of the three almond-shaped leaflets range from light to dark green and turn bright red in the fall. The plant's berries are a grayish-white color.

Poison Oak:Where does poison oak grow

Poison oak is found along the Pacific Coast of North America including Washington, Oregon and California, and along the Atlantic Coast. Poison oak can grow as a dense shrub in open sunlight or a climbing vine in shaded areas. The three leaflets have scalloped edges resembling the leaves of a true oak and can be bronze, bright green, yellow-green or reddish depending on the season. The plant can produce greenish-white or tan berries.

Poison Sumac:Where does poison sumac grow

Poison sumac grows exclusively in very wet or flooded soils, usually in swamps and peat bogs, in the eastern United States as far west as Idaho and Canada. Poison sumac has compound leaves with 7-13 leaflets, and the veins from which the leaflets grow are always red. The plant grows as a shrub and produces fruit that is a small white or grey berry.

 
 

Tecnu Poison Ivy Treatment to stop itching of poison ivy or oak rashThere is no cure for the poison oak or poison ivy rash once it begins, but if you focus on relieving the symptoms you can stop poison ivy itching.

The first step is to remove urushiol from your skin. Be sure to wash the area with Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub or Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser to remove and help prevent spreading the rash-causing oil.

Minor itching, pain, oozing and swelling caused by poison ivy and oak can be relieved with over-the-counter anti-itch treatments such as Calagel Anti-Itch Gel or homeopathic Tecnu Rash Relief Spray. In severe cases, a physician can prescribe antihistamine creams, tablets or shots.

Remember to avoid further contact with the plant oil if possible. You can clean your tools, clothing and pets that have been exposed with Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser to avoid recontamination from the urushiol oil.

 
 

A typical rash from poison ivy, oak and sumac starts with itchiness and swelling, followed by a reddish inflammation of tiny pimples.  After this, blisters form and couple in a chain-like reaction. It is common for a clear fluid to ooze from the blisters.

Note that it is a common misconception that the fluid causes the rash to spread. The only way a poison ivy rash will spread is if the plant's urushiol spreads to other parts of your body.

The fluid from the blisters then hardens to a yellowish crust. Left untreated, poison plant rash (a typical histamine response) will last three to five weeks.

what does a poison ivy rash look like

 
 

Do blisters cause poison ivy or oak rash to spread?

 

No, the poison ivy blisters are the caused by the body's natural allergic reaction to the plants. If the blisters break and ooze, the fluid does not contain the oil that causes spreading.

The rash-causing oil, called urushiol, from the original contact with poison oak and poison ivy will continue spreading (unless removed) for the first one or two days. It is found in in all parts of poison ivy, oak and sumac plants whether dead, dormant or thriving.

If new areas of rash appear after three days, and you have not been in contact with the plants, you are most likely getting re-exposed to the oil from contaminated clothing, tools, or even your cat or dog.

 

 
 

How long does a poison ivy rash lastIt is very common for people to ask, "How long does a poison ivy last?", especially if they are new to having a breakout.  Unfortunately, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

Typically, mild cases of poison ivy or poison oak rash can last 5-12 days. This will depend on how your individual body reacts to the urushiol from the plants. Some people are less sensitive, resulting in a mild rash which may clear up quickly. Hypersensitive people may have a severe rash that forms quickly and should see a doctor for proper treatment. In severe cases, poison ivy rash may last 30 days or longer.

 
 

Can I get poison ivy rash from someone else? Is poison ivy contagious?Generally speaking, no. Poison ivy spreading is caused by coming in contact with the rash-causing oil, urushiol.  Once a poison ivy or oak rash appears (i.e., within 1-3 days), the original oil has all bonded to the skin, so it can't be spread to others.

If you experience poison ivy rash spreading after this time, it is most likely you are coming in contact with the oil again and possibly through secondary contamination. It is not uncommon for urushiol to be picked up from the surface of an item that has come in contact with a poison plant. Urushiol can stay on surfaces such as tools, gloves, boots, or even a pet's fur for quite a long time.

The best practice to avoid spreading the rash is to wash the area with a cleanser designed to remove urushiol such as Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser. Tecnu Original can also be used to remove urushiol from secondary sources of contamination such as tools, gloves, boots and fur.

For more information, see our Infographic "Unexpected Sources of Poison Ivy/Oak Rash"

 
 

Never pop poison ivy blisters! Although they may be painful, an open blister can easily become infected and lead to blood poisoning. The blisters form as part of your body's immune response to poison ivy and oak and are part of the healing process. 

The fluid from the blisters do not contain urushiol, the oil that causes poison ivy or oak rash, so scratching or breaking a blister will not cause the rash to spread. If your rash is continuing to spread, you are coming in contact with the plant's oil either through direct or secondary contact.

If the blisters do break, cover the area loosely with a sterile bandage protecting the wound from bacteria.  In severe cases, you should always contact your doctor.

Products like Calagel Anti-itch Gel or Tecnu Rash Relief Spray can help dry the oozing from the blisters.

should i break the blisters from poison ivy or oak rash

 
 

Am I immune to poison ivy and oakSome people think they are immune to poison ivy because they have never had a rash. However, it is possible to eventually break out into a rash after being exposed to poison ivy or oak enough times.

You can begin getting a rash at any time during your life. Like other topical allergies, sensitivity is just a matter of being exposed enough times until the body has an allergic reaction to the rash-causing oil, urushiol. Since three out of four people are sensitive to urushiol, it is only a matter of enough exposure before most people react to the plants.

Sensitivity may also increase over time. With repeated exposure to the plants, you may find the rash is more severe. Once you know you are sensitive to urushiol, it is important to remove the oil as quickly as possible when you know you have been in contact with poison ivy or oak. Washing with a cleanser designed to remove urushiol soon after exposure, such as Tecnu Original Outdoor Cleanser or Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub, can help reduce the severity or avoid a rash from forming.

 
 

Should I wrap or cover a poison ivy rash?

Because it can be embarrassing and painful to touch, it is common to want to cover poison ivy rash. Some companies also require that the rash is covered to help prevent infection while on the job.

Like other irritations to the skin, air is helpful to healing poison ivy or oak rash so it's best to leave it uncovered as often as you can. If you do cover the rash, use a sterile bandage applied loosely so that oxygen can reach the surface of the skin. Products like Tecnu Rash Relief Spray can help dry oozing and promote healing. It is important to keep the area clean so be sure to change the bandage frequently to help reduce the risk of infection.

As always, if the area of the rash becomes very red, hot, and feverish, or shows other signs of infection, seek medical attention right away.

 

 
 

are dead poison ivy plants safe to touch

In the winter, dormant poison ivy and oak plants may lose all their leaves and berries, and it can be difficult to tell if the plants are still alive. Even with dead poison ivy, all parts of the plants, including the roots and stems, contain rash-causing urushiol. A tiny amount of urushiol can turn into a full-blown reaction to those who are sensitive to the plants, and it will remain intact and does not evaporate after the plants die.

Strategies to handle and remove these plants include ideas like wearing disposable gloves, covering the plant with a plastic bag before you pull it out of the ground, or using heavy-duty weed-killing poisons. No matter what you decide to use to remove a poison ivy plant (including dead plants), you should follow up by cleansing any skin, clothing, tools, or equipment that may have been in contact with the plant to remove urushiol. Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser can be used on any of these items to remove the rash-causing oil. Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub is also an excellent body wash that can be stored in the shower for a superior cleansing to remove the rash causing oil.

Be careful handling firewood in the winter!

A common way of getting poison ivy in the winter is by handling firewood. Be cautious of any cut trees that have leafless vines wrapped around them as you could touch dead poison ivy without realizing it. Burning poison ivy or oak can be quite dangerous as it can result in inhalation of urushiol causing a severe rash that spreads systemically throughout the body.

 
 

should i clean poison ivy from my clothing and toolsYes, removing poison ivy oil from tools and equipment is important to avoid a rash through secondary contamination. Urushiol can stay on these items for a long time, possibly years, causing a rash when you come in contact with them the next time.

An effective way to remove poison ivy or oak oil from these items is to use Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser. Just wipe on the cleanser and then remove with a cloth or rinse off with water. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle. It is also important to remove urushiol from your clothing, shoes and your pet's fur if they come in contact with the plants.

For more information, visit our page titled "How to use Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser on pets, clothing, tools, equipment and more."

 
 

Can I get poison ivy from my dog?Yes, you can get poison ivy from your dog, cat or any other outdoor pet. Since animals' fur protects their skin from the urushiol oil, they typically don't develop a rash. It can be difficult to tell if they have been in contact with poison ivy or oak plants, or carrying the rash-causing oil. However, the oil will remain on their fur and may contaminate you when you touch them.

A safe way to remove the rash-causing oil is to wash your dog or cat with Tecnu® Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser. It is safe to use on your pets to remove the oil from their fur, but should always be followed with a pet bath to make sure all of the Tecnu is removed.

 
 

Can I get a rash from burning poison ivy?

Yes, it is possible to have inhaled poison ivy when it is burned. Urushiol, the rash-causing oil, can be carried in the smoke from burning leaves or brush. For this reason, it is illegal to burn poison ivy, oak or sumac in several states.

It is impossible to tell if a poison ivy plant is wrapped around a tree once the leaves fall off. If you have firewood that has vines wrapped around them, and you are not sure if it could be poison ivy or oak, avoid using that firewood. If you think you have touched the potential poison ivy or oak vines, even if they are dead, you can wash with Tecnu Original Outdoor Cleanser or Tecnu Extreme to remove the rash-causing oil.

If you find yourself around burning poison plants, avoid breathing the smoke. If you think you have inhaled the oils, you may have poison ivy in your lungs. Symptoms may include difficulty breathing, a rash inside your mouth or lips, rash appearing in various spots of your body, and fever.  You will want to seek medical help immediately as this can be a very serious condition.

Even if you haven't burned it, you can still get poison ivy or oak rash from firewood, see how here.

 
 

Does bleach help poison ivy rash

 

No, a very common misconception is that you should use bleach on poison ivy rash. Using bleach for poison ivy may seem to be a quick fix to removing the rash-causing oil, but you could be doing more damage to your body. When you apply bleach directly to the skin, it removes the top layer causing irritation. Bleach may also weaken your skin so that your rash may become worse, lead to increased skin sensitivity and possibly an infection.

Instead of harsh chemicals, use a cleanser designed to remove the rash-causing oil of poison ivy, oak and sumac such as Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser or Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub. Follow up the cleanser with an anti-itch medication to relieve symptoms such as Calagel Medicated Anti-itch Gel or homeopathic Tecnu Rash Relief Spray.

 
 
 

contact dermatitis on legEvery once and a while your skin may break out into a rash. You may or may not know what caused this to happen, and it could be a minor irritation or turn into something much worse. Doctors have a name for these topical rashes that can sometimes appear out of the blue, contact dermatitis.

According to Dictionary.com, contact dermatitis is defined as "inflammation of the skin caused by an allergic reaction to contact with an animal, vegetable, or chemical substance." However, contact dermatitis can be caused by an allergy or by damage to the skin.

Contact dermatitis caused by an allergy

When your skin is exposed to a substance that it is allergic to, your immune system will respond to that substance. The rash is your body's immune system trying to fight off the allergen.  It typically takes being exposed to the substance multiple times before your body will react. The first time you are exposed to a potential allergen your body becomes sensitized, and it can take at least two additional experiences with the allergen before your body will react.

One example of this type of contact dermatitis is poison ivy rash. When a person who is sensitized to poison ivy comes in contact with the oily resin from the plant, called urushiol, the body reacts causing a painful, itchy rash. Some people are surprised to find themselves with a rash after they had thought they could not get poison ivy. In this case, it just took enough exposure to the plants before their body was sensitized to it and began to react.

With allergic contact dermatitis, the rash is usually found at the site where you came in contact with the substance you are allergic to.  It may take up to a few days for a rash to appear and it will typically itch and possibly burn. A more severe rash may blister or become a raised red rash.

Some typical causes of allergic contact dermatitis include:

  • Fragrances found in soaps, lotions, perfumes and other cosmetics
  • Hair dyes, perms or chemical straighteners
  • Poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac
  • Nickel, commonly found in jewelry and belt buckles
  • Chemicals used in tanning leather
  • Latex rubber
  • Some topical medications
  • Citrus fruit, especially the peel

Contact dermatitis caused by skin damage

Sometimes your skin can break out into a rash even though it has not been exposed to an allergen. Your immune system is not reacting but a substance you have been in contact with has caused damage to your skin. This is referred to as irritant contact dermatitis and is more common with people who have eczema.

Irritant contact dermatitis usually appears immediately at the exposure site where something is in contact with your skin.  The rash can be more painful than itchy, and may also blister or become a raised red rash.

Talk to your doctor

It is always best to consult your doctor when you are not sure what caused your contact dermatitis. It is especially important to call a doctor when your rash is hot, red, severely burning, or very painful as it can be a possible sign of infection. Your doctor will advise whether an over-the-counter medicine or prescription is the best course of action to take.

 
 

How does poison ivy work?

Not sure what caused your poison ivy/oak rash? Many people know what a poison ivy or oak rash looks and feels like, but do not really understand why the plants cause such a painful, itchy rash. Once you understand how poison ivy, oak and sumac plants work, it is easier to avoid a rash

Poison ivy, oak and sumac all produce the same rash-causing, resinous oil called urushiol (pronounced ooh-roo-she-all). It is found in all parts of the plants including the leaves, stems and roots. It can stay potent for many years, even on dead plants. For some people, it can take a very small amount to cause a very big reaction.

85% of the population is allergic the urushiol found in poison ivy, oak and sumac plants. It is your body's immune response to this allergen that causes the painful rash. Depending on your sensitivity to urushiol, your body's reaction can vary from mild to severe. Poison ivy, oak and sumac rash symptoms can include:

  • Itchy skin where you came in contact with the oil
  • Redness or red streaks
  • Hives or small bumps in the skin
  • Fluid filled blisters that may leak. Note that the fluid in the blisters does not cause the rash to spread, contrary to common myths about poison ivy and oak.

Why do you get a poison ivy or oak rash

Symptoms of poison ivy, oak or sumac rash usually start within a day of coming in contact with urushiol, but can take as long as two weeks to show up. Using an OTC treatment for poison ivy can help alleviate the symptoms for most people. For more severe reactions, it is best to consult a doctor.

In addition to coming in direct contact with the plant, you can also get poison ivy, oak or sumac through secondary contamination. Urushiol can stay on objects such as tools, clothing, gloves, and shoes for several years. Your pets can also transfer the oil to you if they run through the plants and get it on their fur. The best way to prevent secondary contamination is to remove the oil from any possible secondary sources.

Learn how to use Tecnu® Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser to remove urushiol.

 
 

Remove rash causing oil with Tecnu as the best way to get rid of poison ivyItching and suffering from reactions to poison ivy? How do you cure the rash?

Poison ivy, oak and sumac sufferers are always searching for a cure to the painful itching, oozing and blistering rash, but it is not a disease and therefore cannot be "cured". However, rest easy knowing there are things you can do to relieve the symptoms, reduce exposure and potentially prevent a rash from happening.

Relieve the symptoms

The best way to get rid of poison ivy is to take care of two important steps:

  • First, you will want to remove the rash-causing oil, urushiol. Special washes like Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser and Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub can remove this oil from the skin. Basic soap and water may sometimes move the oil around instead of removing it.
  • Second, you want to relieve the symptoms and help dry the oozing blisters. Products like Calagel Anti-itch Gel and Tecnu Rash Relief Spray can alleviate the itch and pain while drying up the rash. It is important to note that if the blisters break, they do not contain urushiol and will not cause the rash to spread.

Reduce Exposure

Knowing what poison ivy, oak and sumac looks like can help you identify the plants so you can avoid them. This can be difficult when the plants change colors throughout the seasons or if they are leafless, dead vines. Urushiol exists in all parts of the plants whether they are dead or alive so even vines can cause a rash.

How to use Tecnu to remove rash causing oil from clothing, tools, pets and skinUrushiol can also stay on surfaces of tools, clothing, shoes and equipment causing a rash through secondary contamination. Exposure to a miniscule amount of the oil can cause a full-blown reaction, even years later. Washing off these items with Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin cleanser after using them can help remove the oil so you won't encounter it later.

Dogs, cats and other pets can also come in contact with the oil. It is unlikely to bother them, but they can transfer it to you when you touch them. This is common with people who hike with their dogs or have pets who can enjoy outdoor areas where the poison ivy, oak and sumac grow. Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser can also be used to remove the oil from their fur.

Prevent a Rash

So how does one prevent dealing with another rash in the future? Washing with a cleanser such as Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser or Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub after potential exposure to the plants can remove the rash-causing oil from the skin, hopefully before a reaction starts. We recommend using these products in the first 2-8 hours after exposure. It is important to note everyone's reaction time is different so you could need to wash off the plant oil sooner or have a longer timeframe you can wait before your body starts to react to the oil. It is a good idea to carry a cleanser with you while adventuring or working outdoors.

 

 
 

You may have heard sayings such as “leaves of three, let it be” or “hairy vine, no friend of mine”, but identifying poison ivy, oak, and sumac plants can still be a challenge. Part of what makes it a challenge to identify these plants, is that they can grow in various forms including bushes, creeping ground vines, or climbing vines that are typically found wrapped around trees. All three plants contain the same allergen causing the same reaction to your skin so your doctor may call out any of the plants when identifying your rash.  Your best defense against poison ivy, oak, and sumac is to learn what the plants look like and where they grow. If you do find yourself with a rash, Tecnu can help stop it in its tracks.

Clean up with Tecnu Original


Where does poison ivy grow? poison-ivy-leaves

The most common of these three noxious plants, poison ivy, grows throughout most of North America, including all of the United States except California, Alaska, and Hawaii. Disguising itself as a groundcover, shrub, or climbing vine, poison ivy prefers “disturbed ground”, i.e. the perimeter of your backyard, along trails and walking paths, climbing trees & fences, and mixed in with your landscape.

To identify poison ivy, look for almond shaped leaflets that occur in clusters of three. Leaves are green in the summer, red in the fall, and the berries are usually grayish-white.

where does poison ivy grow

Where does Poison oak grow?

While poison oak may not be as common as poison ivy, it does come in two varieties: Eastern Poison Oak, and Western Poison Oak. To make things confusing, poison oak looks very similar to poison ivy with just a couple subtle differences; poison oak also grows in leaves of three, but has scalloped edges and is shaped like leaves from an oak tree.

Similar to poison ivy, poison oak also favors “disturbed ground”, and is often found in woodlands and Douglas fir tree forests. Poison oak likes both sunlight and shade, found growing as a shrub in the sunlight, or as a climbing vine under the shade of a tree. Colors of the leaves vary throughout the year ranging from bronze, brilliant green, yellow-green, or red in the fall. Berries on poison oak plants are typically greenish white or tan.

where does (Atlantic) poison oak grow

where does (Pacific) poison oak grow

Where does poison sumac grow? poison-sumac

You’re unlikely to stumble upon poison sumac unless you live around or near a swamp or peat bog. Found primarily in the Eastern Unites States, poison sumac grows as a wooded shrub that resembles a small tree growing as tall as 20 feet.

The number of leaves on poison sumac can vary, but are always an odd number, typically ranging from 5-13 leaves per stem with a single leaf at the end of each stem. The stems of poison sumac are red in the spring, fading to brown in the fall and winter. These plants produce oval-shaped berries that are white to gray in color.

where does poison sumac grow

What is causing my rash in Hawaii?

While poison ivy, oak, and sumac do not grow in Hawaii, surprisingly, the skin of the mango tree produces the same rash-causing allergen, urushiol. Just like poison ivy, oak, and sumac, you want to remove urushiol from your skin if you have been in contact with it.

Why do these plants cause a rash?

Check out our resource page, How does poison ivy work to learn more!

 
 

Tecnu Original product label

Tecnu-skinSKIN: Use within a few hours of exposure to help remove poison oak and ivy oil (urushiol) before rash begins. Once the rash has started, wash with Tecnu to help remove oils on skin allowing the healing process to begin without recontamination.

 

Tecnu-toolsTOOLS: Urushiol oils clinging to tools and equipment can cause rash. Clean equipment with a cloth saturated with Tecnu (check an inconspicuous corner of the equipment for possible surface damage before use). Wash thoroughly with soap and water.

 

Tecnu-clothesCLOTHING: Saturate contaminated, unwetted clothing with Tecnu in a bucket or dishpan (First check for color fastness by testing a concealed corner of the fabric). Let soak for several minutes. Launder clothing by itself as usual with detergent and hot water.

 

Tecnu-petsPETS: Dogs, cats, horses and other furry pets can become contaminated by urushiol oil and can transfer poison oil to owners without being affected themselves. Saturate a cloth with Tecnu and wipe down the pet's coat. Then follow with a pet shampoo and water bath.

 

Tecnu-skunkSKUNK: If your pet is sprayed by a skunk, saturate a cloth with Tecnu and wipe down the pet's coat. Then follow with a pet shampoo and warm water rinse.
DO NOT LEAVE TECNU ON FUR. IT MUST BE COMPLETELY WASHED OFF WITH SHAMPOO AND WATER

 

Tecnu-sapTREE SAP/PITCH: Tecnu can be used to clean pitch, tree sap, road tar, grass stains and many other difficult to remove nuisances from skin, clothing and tools. Apply Tecnu directly and rub until the stain dissolves. Rinse off with soap and water.

 
 

Common Misconceptions About Treating Poison Ivy And Oak RashWhen it comes to treating poison ivy and oak rash, there is no suggestion we haven't read or heard during our many years of making outdoor solutions. While the majority of the time those that give advice mean well, the advice can often be more harmful than it is helpful. Before we address proper treatment of the rash, it is important to cover and correct the following common misconceptions:

1.)    Use bleach to treat your rash - Bleach can cause chemical burns, irritation and swelling when exposed to skin. It can also destroy melanin (pigment) in the body. Stick to a cleanser designed to remove urushiol (the rash causing oil) such as Tecnu.

2.)    Wash with scalding hot water - Some suggest washing a poison ivy or oak rash with hot water 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 pores closed. Additionally, washing with extremely hot water can cause burns and further irritation.

3.)    How the rash spreads - 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 likely 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 encountered the plant and could be carrying the oil. Unless it is properly removed, urushiol can remain on these items for years.

4.)    Breaking blisters - The blisters that form during a poison ivy or oak rash 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.

When it comes to treating a poison ivy or oak rash, the steps are simple:

  1. REMOVE OIL: Before you treat the symptoms of a rash, you need to remove the rash-causing oil, urushiol. Found in all parts of the plants including the roots, stems, and leaves, urushiol is an oily substance that can be tough to remove with just soap and water. Using a cleanser designed specifically to remove urushiol such as Tecnu® Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser or Tecnu Extreme® Poison Ivy Scrub will yield better results.
  2. TREAT: After you have successfully removed the urushiol, you can treat the symptoms of your rash. Products like Calagel or Tecnu Rash Relief Spray can help relieve the itching, burning, and oozing associated with poison ivy rash. If your rash symptoms persist for more than 7 days without improvement, seek advice from a medical professional.
 
 

What causes poison ivy? Is poison ivy contagious? Tecnu Extreme removes the rash causing oil

So what causes poison ivy, oak and sumac rash? A highly concentrated, invisible oil called, urushiol.

Urushiol, is the rash-causing oil found in all parts of poison ivy, oak, and sumac plants. Approximately 85% of the population experiences an allergic reaction to these noxious plants, and according to the National Institute of Occupational Health & Safety, 50 micrograms of urushiol is enough to cause a rash in 80-90% of adults. That is less than one grain of table salt!

Contact

Contact with urushiol can happen in two ways. The first, direct contact with any part of the plant. Poison ivy plants and poison oak plants can be hard to identify as they can grow in several forms. These noxious plants have been known to grow as bushes, ground cover, and creeping vines. Often times, a person comes into contact with them, and doesn't even know it. The second way to come into contact with urushiol is through secondary contamination, or indirect contact. Urushiol can last on inanimate objects for a period of months, even years, as it does not evaporate. Therefore, the next time you come into contact with one of these items, you could possibly develop a rash.

Absorption Rate

In many cases, after coming into contact with urushiol oil and once the initial breakout has occurred, new spots will appear a day or two (or, more) later. This leads many to believe that the rash is "spreading." However, this may be due to absorption. Because some areas of the body have thicker skin than others, urushiol can be absorbed at a slower rate than areas of the body where the skin is thinner. Therefore, rashes in areas with thicker skin may not appear right away.

How Spreading Occurs

If the oil is not properly removed with a cleanser specifically designed for poison oak and poison ivy (such as Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser), urushiol can remain on the surface of the skin and continue to spread to other areas of the body. Typically, urushiol is absorbed within the first 8 hours after exposure, although this can vary. Surprising to many, the liquid that oozes from the blisters of a poison ivy rash does not spread the oil. By the time blisters form, your body has already absorbed the urushiol.

Bathing

After coming into contact with these poison plants, showering rather than taking a bath is always recommended. As soothing as a nice, hot bath may sound, it can potentially make your rash worse. Upon submerging yourself in water, there is a chance that the urushiol on your skin can lift, and settle on top of the water, giving the urushiol a chance to spread to other areas of your body. Now, after the first shower using a cleanser such as Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser or Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub, it is OK to follow up with a bath should you choose.

Hot water

It is never recommended to take a hot shower immediately after exposure to poison ivy or oak. The reason being, hot water opens yours pores. If urushiol is on the surface of the skin, and the pores open up, more urushiol stands a chance of being absorbed into your system. For that reason, showering with cool or lukewarm water for the first shower after exposure is best. With the initial shower, we recommend using a cleanser designed to remove urushiol such as Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub. Subsequent showers can be taken with hot water.

 
 

Poison ivy rash is caused by the skin's reaction to the oily resin called urushiol (oo-roo-she-all). Urushiol is found in the leaves, stems, and roots of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac plants. To identify the plants that grow in your area, see our poison ivy map of the Unites States here.

According to the American Skin Association1, approximately 85% of the population is allergic to these rash-causing plants. In most cases, a poison ivy rash (or poison oak, sumac) can be treated at home with over-the-counter solutions; however, if a rash lasts for more than 2 weeks and doesn't appear to improve, it is recommend to seek care from a medical professional.

Symptoms

The symptoms and severity of poison ivy rash can vary from person to person, but generally, the symptoms of a poison ivy rash are:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Blisters

These symptoms will typically appear within 48 hours after exposure, and last anywhere from 2-4 weeks. In some cases, the rash appears as small scratches that are often confused with minor trail scrapes; however, most often poison ivy rash is red with small bumps or blisters. Click here to see what poison ivy rash looks like.

How to prevent

The key to poison ivy rash prevention and care is to remove the oil! Using a poison ivy wash, like Tecnu® or Tecnu Extreme® is the first step in the battle against poison ivy. If used within the first 8 hours after exposure, a poison ivy wash can remove the oil before it bonds with the skin and causes a rash. If a rash has already appeared, it is still important to remove the oil to keep poison ivy rash from spreading. In addition to cleansers that remove the rash-causing oil, there are a few other precautions to take:

  • Wear long sleeves & pants
  • Wear gloves when working around poison ivy or oak
  • Familiarize yourself with what poison ivy looks like

How to treat

So, what is the best treatment for poison ivy? The first step is to remove urushiol from the skin whether a rash has appeared or not. The second step is to wash items that could cause secondary contamination: clothing, tools, equipment, even your dog. If a rash appears, treat with an anti-itch poison ivy treatment such a Calagel® or Tecnu® Rash Relief Spray.

Myths

Poison ivy rash is contagious.

-          False, poison ivy rash is not contagious. Skin must come in direct contact with urushiol to cause a rash.

Liquid from the blisters contain can cause the rash to spread.

-          False, by the time your body has produced blisters, the oil has been absorbed.

Eating small pieces of poison ivy plants will make me immune.

-          Not only is this false, it is also very dangerous. Do not ingest poison ivy, oak, or sumac plants.

 

1 http://www.americanskin.org/resource/poisonivy.php

 
 
   

Get the relief you're looking for without getting messy pink fluid on your skin and clothes! If you have an active poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac rash, apply Calagel after first using Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser, or Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub to remove the rash-causing oil called urushiol.

To use, apply a thin layer to the affected area, gently rub until well absorbed. Note, if you use too much, you'll notice a build-up of the product that will appear white and flakey. Remember with Calagel, a little goes a long way!

Calagel quickly relieves the itch without the pink mess of calamine lotions and without using steroids. Not just for poison oak and ivy rash, Calagel can also be used for insect bites, minor burns, sunburns, minor cuts, scrapes and other minor skin irritations! Do not apply more than 3 times a day, and always read the label before using any product!

Now you can,

Live life. Get Outdoors!™

 
   

Outdoor enthusiasts who like to camp, hike, trail run, mountain bike, work outdoors, and enjoy other activities are familiar with the suffering from a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash. With each passing year there are climate reports that poison ivy and oak is growing healthier, larger and more potent than the year before. Poison plant rash is one of the top causes of workers comp claims among outdoor work crews in the United States.

So what is a person to do to ease their suffering of poison ivy, oak and sumac rash? Watch our video above:

  • Learn what poison ivy, oak and sumac plants look like so that you can either avoid them or take the proper steps after coming on contact with them.
  • Learn how to remove the cause of a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash - urushiol, the resinous substance produced by these plants.
  • Learn how to treat the burning itch of poison ivy, oak and sumac rash so you can have relief!

Tec Labs offers training and poison plant education materials for work crews and other organizations. If you would like to request information or training, please call 1-800-ITCHING (482-4464) or contact us.

 

Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser removes poison ivy, oak and sumac rash causing oil, urushiol, from your skin. Wash with it after exposure to poison ivy, oak or sumac plants to remove the oil before a rash starts, or after the rash has begun to keep the oil from spreading to other parts of your body.

   

Remove poison ivy from skin with Tecnu OriginalPoison ivy, oak and sumac rashes are all caused by the same resinous oil produced by the plants called urushiol (pronounced oo-roo-she-all).  The rash is caused by your body's allergic reaction to urushiol resulting in an itchy, bumpy rash that can produce blisters filled with fluid. A common misconception is that breaking the blisters will cause the fluid to flow and therefore spread the rash. If your poison ivy, oak or sumac rash is spreading, it is because the rash-causing oil is spreading.

An important step to ending your poison plant rash misery is to remove the urushiol oil from your skin. To remove poison ivy from your skin, wash with Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser to unlock the bond of the oil allowing your skin to begin its natural healing process. Since everyone's immune system is different, a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash may last anywhere from a few days to several weeks depending on how long it takes your body to heal.

 

A common question we get asked is how to remove the oil from poison ivy on clothes. An easy way is to wash clothing with Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser. This short video shows our recommended method to remove poison ivy, oak and sumac oil from your clothing.

   

Poison ivy on clothes can be removed with Tecnu OriginalPoison ivy, oak and sumac rashes are all caused by your body's allergic reaction to the resinous oil produced by the plants called urushiol (pronounced oo-roo-she-all). This oil can rub off onto your clothing when you come in contact with the plants and stay until it is washed off. It is common for people to get a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash unexpectedly while handling or wearing clothing that has come in contact with the oil. Consider cleaning all clothing, including jackets, gloves and shoes, which may have come in contact with poison plants.

Because urushiol is an oily substance, it is important to wash your clothing with a detergent that can break up the oil. The video above shows how Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser can be used to remove poison ivy, oak and sumac oil. Remember to use Tecnu Original like you would a stain remover by applying it to dry clothing before you launder the items. It is also suggested that you wash clothing contaminated with urushiol separately from your other laundry.

 

Did you know your pet can pick up the rash causing oil from poison ivy, oak and sumac plants and transfer it to you? This short video shows how to remove urushiol, the rash causing oil, from your pet's fur.

   

Remove poison ivy from fur with Tecnu originalPoison ivy, oak and sumac plants produce resinous oil called urushiol (pronounced oo-roo-she-all). It is your body's allergic reaction to the plant's oil that causes poison ivy, oak and sumac rash. The oil can be transferred to your skin directly from the plant or indirectly from other sources that have come in contact with the oil, such as your dog or cat.

Most pets have thick fur that keeps the urushiol from coming on contact with their skin so they will not react with a rash. However, that oil can sit on their fur for a long period of time until you wash it off with a strong detergent. Many pet owners develop a poison ivy, oak or sumac rash because of unknowingly transferring urushiol from their pet's fur to their skin.

The video above shows how to use Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser to remove poison ivy, oak and sumac oil from your pet so that you will not get a rash by secondary contamination. Be sure to follow up by washing your animal with a pet shampoo to remove all of the Tecnu Original from their fur.

 

Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser is known for removal of poison ivy, oak and sumac oil, but it can also remove skunk smell from your pet's fur. Be sure to follow up with a regular pet shampoo to remove all of the Tecnu from the fur.

   

Remove skunk smell from your dog with Tecnu OriginalIf you own an animal, and especially if you live in the country, you may be familiar with skunks spraying your pets. You may be familiar with the old school method of bathing in tomato juice, but this is not always effective. Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser is an easy solution to this stinky problem.

So what is this substance that causes our eyes to tear up and nose to burn? A skunk's defensive mechanism is the "spray" that they can shoot up to several feet. It is made from their glands which produce a mixture of sulfur containing chemicals. The strong odor wards off predators and can be very difficult to remove.

Because the smell of skunk spray is created by an oily substance, Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser can be effective at removing it. See the video above on how to clean your pet when sprayed by a skunk.  Be sure to follow up with a regular shampoo pet bath to remove all of the Tecnu Original.

 

Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser removes poison ivy, oak and sumac from tools to help prevent coming in contact with the oil later. If your gardening tools have come in contact with poison ivy or oak, clean your tools before storing them for future use.

   

Remove poison ivy from tools with Tecnu Original

Poison ivy, oak and sumac rashes are caused by your skin's reaction to the plants' oil, a substance that can be difficult to get rid of. This oil is called urushiol (pronounced oo-roo-she-all) and it can spread easily on skin and sit for years on the surface of objects such as gardening tools and equipment.

When coming in contact with poison ivy, oak or sumac while gardening, your tools can pick up urushiol. Unless the urushiol is washed away with a cleanser that can break up and remove the oil, it can stay on the surface for a long time. It is a good idea to clean up your tools after use and before storing for the winter so that you will not have to remember if they have been in contact with poison plants.

The video above shows how to use Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser to remove the rash-causing oil from your tools.

 
 
 
Picture of poison ivy rash on face Picture of poison oak rash on leg
Image of poison ivy rash on wrist Image of poison oak rash on hand
Picture of blistering poison ivy rash on wrist Picture of poison oak rash on elbow
Image showing poison ivy rash on fingers Poison ivy rash on leg starting to scab over
Image of poison oak rash on forearms Poison ivy rash on arms starting to heal
Image of poison oak rash in bend of arm Poison ivy rash pictured on legs and hands

It's a question we are often asked. Folks that adventure and/or work in the outdoors think they may have been exposed and want to know what to expect, while others have broken out and are trying to determine if their rash was in fact, caused by contact with poison oak or poison ivy plants.

Before we get into what a poison ivy rash looks like, it is important to cover what exactly causes the rash. Poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac all contain the same rash-causing allergen called, urushiol (pronounced: oo-roo-she-all). Urushiol is an incredibly potent substance found in all parts of the plant including the leaves, stem, even the roots. A little bit of this oil goes a long way, it is incredibly powerful!

Exposure can occur from direct contact or indirect contact. Urushiol does not evaporate, and is known to last on items such as tools, clothing, gear, fences, pets, etc. for months, even years. This makes it possible to develop a rash the next time you come into contact with these contaminated items (also known as secondary contamination).

For approximately 85% of the American population, contact with urushiol causes an allergic reaction called contact dermatitis (the swelling and irritation of the skin when exposed to an irritating substance). This is your body's natural reaction to an allergen, in which your skin alerts your immune system to the presence of an irritating substance or chemical.  Sensitivity to urushiol develops over time, and is known to increase, as a person incurs more and more exposures. It isn't entirely uncommon for an individual to go without a reaction to poison oak or poison ivy for the first several years of their life, then one day, upon exposure, develop a rash.

A poison ivy rash can appear anywhere from 24-36 hours after exposure, and last between 2 to 4 weeks. How quickly symptoms appear, and the duration of your rash depends on a few factors: your sensitivity to urushiol, the amount you were exposed to, and how many exposures to the substance you've had over your lifetime.

Rashes and what they look like vary from person to person. Symptoms can include: intense itching, redness, swelling, or blisters. It is important to never break the blisters, as it can potentially cause an infection. The liquid that oozes from the blisters often dries to form a yellow crust-like substance. It's best to leave the rash uncovered to allow oxygen to aid the healing process; however, if the blisters ooze excessively, a loose bandage can be used to cover the area.

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot "cure" a poison oak rash (or, poison ivy rash). You simply have to let your body run its natural course. There are however, products you can use to help alleviate your symptoms (itching, redness, inflammation, etc.) such as Calagel® Maximum Strength Anti-itch Gel and Tecnu® Rash Relief™ Spray. If you experience a severe reaction (i.e. swelling of the face, trouble breathing, etc.) or your rash worsens, or doesn't improve, seek medical attention immediately.

 
 

Pictures of poison ivy and oak during various seasons help with poison plant identification. Notice how the plants change color throughout the year.

Poison ivy images:

Single poison ivy leaf

Image of single poison ivy leaf

Poison ivy with berries picture

Picture of poison ivy plant with berries

Picture of poison ivy in the fall. It is common for poison ivy to climb up a tree as it grows.

Picture of poison ivy vine in the fall changing colors

Poison ivy turned red during the winter. Remember that you can still pick up the rash-causing oil after the leaves fall off.

Red Poison ivy plant image

 Poison oak images:

Poison oak bush picture

Picture of poison oak bush

Image of poison oak in the fall

Picture of poison oak in the fall

Poison oak turned completely red

Image of poison oak turned completely red

 Poison sumac images:

Poison sumac plants have red stems, as pictured here

Picture of poison sumac plant

Poison sumac turning red in the fall

Image of poison sumac plant turned red

 

Where can you find poison ivy, oak and sumac plants?

 

Poison Ivy:

Pictures of Poison ivy


Grows throughout much of North America, including all Canadian provinces except Newfoundland (and the Territories) and all US states except Alaska, Oregon, Hawaii and California. The plants can grow as a shrub up to about 4 feet tall, as a groundcover, or as a climbing vine. The color of the three almond-shaped leaflets range from light to dark green and turn bright red in the fall. The plant's berries are a grayish-white color.

Poison Oak:

Pictures of poison oak


Poison oak is found along the Pacific Coast of North America including Washington, Oregon and California, and along the Atlantic Coast. Poison oak can grow as a dense shrub in open sunlight or a climbing vine in shaded areas. The three leaflets have scalloped edges resembling the leaves of a true oak and can be bronze, bright green, yellow-green or reddish depending on the season. The plant can produce greenish-white or tan berries.

Poison Sumac:

Pictures of poison sumac


Poison sumac grows exclusively in very wet or flooded soils, usually in swamps and peat bogs, in the eastern United States as far west as Idaho and Canada. Poison sumac has compound leaves with 7-13 leaflets, and the veins from which the leaflets grow are always red. The plant grows as a shrub and produces fruit that is a small white or grey berry.

 
 

Poison ivy, oak and sumac are not the only plants that can cause miserable rashes. Here are three commonly found plants that cause misery for many people.

Nettle tea is commonThe first two, Wood Nettle and Stinging Nettle, are commonly used as herbal remedies. The root is used for joint ailments, as a diuretic and as an astringent. The top portion of the plant is used to treat UTI's, kidney stones and as irrigation therapy. Both can cause a miserable rash though!

Wood Nettle can have purple or green leaves, with hairs that stick straight up and out. These hairs are stingers that penetrate the skin and can cause itchy, reddish welts. It is found at the bottom of streams, rivers and forests.

Stinging Nettle, like Wood Nettle, also has stinging hairs, but is found close to mountains and within forests and has salmon colored flowers that are shaped like hearts. The hairs on Stinging Nettle are known to cause itching, inflammation and pain.

The key to identifying a Wood Nettle vs a Stinging Nettle is in the leaf pattern. Wood Nettle leaves alternate along the stem, whereas Stinging Nettle leaves are placed opposite one another, as pictured here:

Stinging Nettles cause itching skin rashes

The third plant that commonly causes rashes is Ragweed. Most people are familiar with respiratory reactions to Ragweed, but it can also cause a painful, itchy rash comprised of small bumps and blisters. Ragweed is commonly found in rural areas and open spaces with plenty of sunlight.

American Common Ragweed can cause rash and itching

Like poison ivy and oak, topical anti-itch treatments may offer some relief, and if your rash is severe always consult a medical professional.

 
 

We enjoy sharing all things poison ivy, but did you know there are other plants that can make you itch or may be potentially dangerous? We consulted the American Academy of Dermatology  to get a list of common plants that cause misery.

Plants in the Garden

Fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden are wonderful, but some of their plants can make you itch or cause a rash when handling them. Strawberries, tomatoes, hot peppers and garlic can all cause rashes to those who are sensitive to them.

Strawberries And Tomatoes can cause rash and itching
Strawberry and Tomato Plants

Peppers And Garlic plants can cause an itching rash
Hot Pepper and Garlic Plants


Rose hips, the round portion of the rose flower just below the petals, are commonly used in supplements and teas, but the plants can cause an irritating rash.

Rosehips can cause an itchy reaction
Rose Hips


The borage plant is used as a cooking herb, but it has stiff hairs that can penetrate the skin and cause a rash. Comfrey is also a member of the borage family and can cause an itchy reaction when handling the plant.

Borage and Comfrey can cause a rash
Borage and Comfrey


Remember to wear gloves when planting your winter bulbs! Tulip, hyacinth or daffodil bulbs can all make you itch.

Handling tulip, hyacinth and daffodil bulbs can cause a rash or itching
Tulip, Hyacinth and Daffodil bulbs


Poisonous Plants to Avoid!

Some plants should be avoided altogether. They can be dangerous and cause more than just a minor rash.

Located along the Pacific Crest Trail in Southern California, the poodle-dog bush can cause a blistering rash similar to poison oak. If you come across the plant, you may be able to identify it by its strong smell.

Poodle Dog Bush can be dangerous
Poodle-Dog Bush


Giant hogweed is likely found along streams, in fields and forests, and alongside the road. It is native to Southwest Asia and was brought to the USA in the early 1900's to use as an ornamental plant. Giant hogweed can be dangerous as its sap can cause severe burns when exposed to sunlight and result in possible scarring.

Giant Hogweed is dangerous and can cause a blistering rash
Giant Hogweed


Like giant hogweed, the sap from wild parsnip can cause a severe burning, blistering rash.

Wild parsnip can be dangerous to humans, dogs and other pets
Wild Parsnip


Commonly mistaken for wild carrot or wild parsnip, poison hemlock can be very toxic to both humans and animals. This plant can be a problem in farmlands because the animals will eat it. Poison hemlock can also be found along creekbeds, irrigation and waste areas. All parts of this plant are toxic, so you want to steer clear of it.

Poison Hemlock is poisonous to humans and animals
Poison Hemlock


Even more potent than poison hemlock, water hemlock only requires a minimal amount of exposure to be poisonous to humans and animals.

Water Hemlock is more dangerous than poison hemlock
Water Hemlock


Stinging nettle has hairy leaves that can causing itching and a painful rash when it comes in contact with skin. We have a longer post about nettle here. 

Nettles are known to cause a rash like poison ivy
Stinging Nettle


We must not forget our favorites, poison ivy, oak and sumac, which are well known for their rash-causing abilities.

Poison Ivy Oak Sumac
Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac


What to do?

As best practice, you should always wear protective gloves when handling potentially irritating plants and wash up as soon as possible when done. We, of course, also suggest cleaning up with Tecnu Outdoor Skin Cleanser to remove any dirt and oils from your skin.

Use plastic bags to cover a plant before you remove it and use a fresh plastic bag for each plant. Leave the plant inside the bag to dispose of it to avoid touching it in any way.

Cover your skin with long sleeves and pants to avoid contact with potentially harmful plants. This is good practice whether you are enjoying the outdoor trails or working in your own yard. Be sure to wash any exposed clothing before wearing it again.

Use a weed killer or white vinegar to destroy the plant's roots to avoid having it grow again.

 
 
 

How to avoid poison ivy in the fallDownload a printable PDF

Poison ivy and oak can be tricky during the cooler times of year. The leaves change color and start to fall off the stems making it difficult to identify the plants. Unfortunately, the rash-causing urushiol is in all parts of the plants, including the stems, and may cause a rash without you knowing you touched it. So here are a few tips on how to avoid poison ivy and oak.

  1. Avoid touching leafless vines. Poison ivy and oak lose their leaves in the fall and winter so you may come in contact with urushiol and not know it.
  2. When pulling plants out of the ground, wrap plastic bags around them first to give yourself a protective barrier. Throw away the plants inside the plastic bags.
  3. Wear gloves and long sleeves to help protect yourself from coming in contact with poison plants.
  4. If you think you may have been in contact with plants that might be poison ivy, wash your clothing through 2 cycles using a detergent that is tough on grease.
  5. Remember the "leaves of three" mantra when it comes to poison ivy and oak. During the winter they may range from bright orange to brilliant red before the fall off the stems.
  6. As a habit, wash with Tecnu Original Outdoor Cleanser or Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub after working in your yard to remove any urushiol from your skin.

 

 
 

Insect identification guide for ticks, chiggers, spiders and more

(Click imgage to download printable PDF.)

There are a great number of insect species inhabiting the earth, and people who frequent the great outdoors for work, fun, or play, are bound at some time or another to encounter one, many, or all of them. In an effort to make your outdoors experience more enjoyable, we have compiled a list of the most common insects you are likely to run into and what you need to know about them:

MOSQUITOES

General Information:

Tiny, irritating blood suckers that not only feast on human blood, they are also quite fond of: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, even some kinds of fish. Interestingly, mosquitoes use chemical, visual, and heat sensors to find their prey. While both males and females are known to feed on nectars and plants, the females are better equipped to feed on humans and the other species aforementioned. The intense itching and irritation one experiences after a mosquito bite is caused by the insect's saliva.

Diseases: Malaria, Yellow Fever, and most notably, West Nile Virus.

Habitat: Mosquitoes can be found throughout the United States, and often prefer areas with stagnant water (within which they lay their eggs) such as: ponds, marshes, swamps, and other wetland habitats.

How to Protect Yourself:

-          Avoid leaving windows and doors open during the warmer months.

-          Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors during peak mosquito hours (dusk and dawn).

-          Do not leave standing water around your home (i.e. buckets, pools, etc.).

-          Replace exterior light bulbs with yellow bulbs as mosquitoes are less attracted to them.

-          Protect yourself with a trusted insect repellent.

TICKS

General Information:

Ticks are an ever-growing problem in the United States. There are a number of different species, all of which are equally capable of spreading harmful diseases. They are fond of both humans and our furry friends, particularly dogs.

Diseases: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever & Lyme Disease.

Habitat: Wooded areas, tall brush/grass, under fallen leaves, under plants and ground cover in your yard, as well as around stone walls and wood piles.

How to Protect Yourself:

-          Utilize an insect repellent designed for use against ticks.

-          Complete a full-body check when you come indoors after trekking through areas where ticks typically reside.

-          After a full-body check, shower immediately.

-          Place appropriate clothing and gear in the dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes.

CHIGGERS

General Information:

Also known as berry bugs or red bugs, chiggers belong to a mite family of approximately 30 different species. Interestingly, chiggers only feast on humans during the larval stage. Bites cause red welts, coupled with intense itching typically found near the waist, ankles, and in warm skin folds. Once they've fed on their host, they drop to the ground and become nymphs, eventually maturing into adults. When they've reached adulthood, chiggers are no longer harmful to humans.

Diseases: Do not typically carry diseases in North America.

Habitat: Forests, grasslands, in vegetation of low, damp areas such as berry bushes, woodlands, orchards, along lakes and streams, even in lawns and parks.

How to Protect Yourself:

-          Use an insect repellent indicated for use against chiggers.

-          If you plan to be outdoors for an extended period of time, wear long sleeves and pants.

-          Once you are back indoors, immediately take a hot shower and launder your clothing (preferably in warm/hot water, high heat in the dryer).

FIRE ANTS

General Information:

Fire ants are so named for their reddish-brown appearance and their painful sting that will send you running for your mom (Just kidding… kind of). These nasty little critters look just like your standard black ants as far as size and shape are concerned, but ordinary, they are not! If threatened, fire ants bite (only for grip) then sting to inject alkaloid venom that causes a painful, burning sensation. Unlike many insects, fire ants do not hibernate, and are well known for their ability to survive extreme weather conditions.

Diseases: No known to carry any diseases.

Habitat: Prefer to build their mounds (or, hills) in open areas with access to lots of sunlight such as: meadows, pastures, parks, playgrounds, lawns, golf courses, as well as agricultural areas.

How to Protect Yourself:

-          Keep an eye out for ant hills or mounds & avoid them!

-          Wear shoes as often as possible when spending time outdoors.

NO-SEE-UMS

General Information:

These tiny insects are so named for their microscopic size, they are nearly impossible to see at a whopping 1/16th of an inch. So small in fact, they could fit through a window screen! Similar to mosquitoes, only the females are equipped to bite and feed on blood. No-see-ums are a prominent issue during the warmer spring months when they begin breeding, needing blood meal to complete the reproductive cycle. This can last for several weeks. The bite of a no-see-um causes intensely-itchy red welts that can last for a week or more.

Diseases: Have the potential to spread protozoa and/or filarial worms in tropical regions.

Habitat: Found in almost any aquatic and semiaquatic habitat throughout the world. They can also be found in mountain ranges, beaches, and grassy areas.

How to Protect Yourself:

-          Avoid sitting directly on grass during the spring months.

-          Use an insect repellent indicated for use against no-see-ums.

-          When you return indoors, immediately wash clothing in warm/hot water and dry on high heat.

-          Shower immediately after coming indoors.

SPIDERS

General Information:

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are only a few spiders that pose a threat to humans. Two of which can be found throughout the U.S., although are more common in the southern states: the black widow spider, and the brown recluse. Bites from either spider can cause a number symptoms including: chills, fever, nausea & vomiting, and abdominal pain. If bitten, the May Clinic suggests:

-          Cleansing the wound with soap and water.

-          If bitten on the arm or leg, tie a bandage above the bite and elevate the affected limb to help stop the venom's spread.

-          Apply a cold compress to the bite.

-          Seek immediate medical attention. In some cases, treatment for a black widow or brown recluse bite may require anti-venom medication.

-          Shake off fire wood before coming indoors.

Diseases: Not known to carry diseases.

Habitat: Spiders prefer warm, dark, dry climates with plenty of food (flies) available. Undisturbed areas are a favorite including but not limited to: closets, woodpiles, sheds, corners in the garage, and under sinks.

How to Protect Yourself:

-          When working in areas that spiders typically reside, wear long sleeves, pants, and gloves.

-          Watch where you place your hands.

-          Shake off clothing before you put it on or go inside.

-          Sweep, mop, & vacuum webs and spiders regularly.

-          In storage areas avoid placing boxes directly against the wall, and keep them taped shut.

-          Keep clutter and growth clear around the home.

-          Routinely spray your home with products indicated for use against spiders.

HORNETS/WASPS

General Information:

Hornets, wasps, & bees are a problem for most people who frequent the outdoors. In most cases a sting or a bite will cause mild pain and irritation. For some, it can cause a deadly allergic reaction. According to the CDC, an estimated 100 people die each year from allergic reactions to bee, wasp, and hornet stings. Individuals who are known to have such an allergy should carry a doctor prescribed epinephrine auto injector (EpiPen) at all times along with a medical signifier such as a bracelet, card, or necklace.

Diseases: Not known to carry any diseases.

Habitat: While found just about anywhere outdoors, they are particularly attracted to the pollen that flowers produce, therefore areas with flowering plants will host a significant number of these insects.

How to Protect Yourself:

-          Wear long sleeves and pants, preferably in light colors.

-          Sweat and oil can attract these insects, therefore showering daily and wearing clean clothes in important.

-          Clean up food as soon as possible after eating to avoid attracting them to you.

-          When attacked by hornets, wasps, or bees, relocate as soon as possible. Bees release a chemical that attracts fellow bees when they sting. Look for shaded areas, or an indoor location.

 
 

 Poison ivy and oak facts

[Download Infographic PDF]

Poison Ivy and Poison Oak Rash Facts


When it comes to poison oak and poison ivy rash there can be a great deal of questions! Not to mention, all of the hub-bub found on the internet can be quite confusing! As the trusted name in poison oak and ivy for over 50 years, we've gathered a bit of knowledge over the years and compiled a few of the most frequently asked questions and answers to help you when the dreaded rash comes a knocking at your door!

What does poison ivy and oak look like?

Poison ivy and oak have leaflets of three, change colors throughout the season, and may have berries. See our images of the plants for reference. (linkto: /tips-info/images-video/images/poison-plant-identification )

Do the blisters cause poison ivy and oak rash to spread?

Thinking that breaking blisters cause the rash to spread is a very common misconception. However, the only way for the rash to spread is for the rash-causing oil, urushiol, to spread. Blisters are caused by your body's immune response to urushiol after is has bonded with your skin.

Should I cover the rash with bandages?

It is a good idea to cover the rash only when necessary as oxygen may help it heal faster. If you do cover the rash, be sure to use loose bandages.

Should I break the blisters?

Blisters caused by poison ivy or oak is your body's way of removing the toxin. It is best not to break the blisters but allow them to run their course. If the blisters are painful, you should consult your doctor.

How long will poison ivy or oak rash last?

This is probably one of the most common questions we get asked. It is very difficult to answer because everyone's immune system reacts differently. The average person usually experiences a rash for 2-4 weeks. If your rash is severe, red, feels hot, or if you experience other signs of possible infection, you should consult your doctor immediately.

How can I relieve the itching?

Over-the-counter anti-itch medications, such as Calagel or Tecnu Rash Relief may help relieve symptoms. If you are not finding success with OTC's or if you have a severe rash, your doctor may recommend prescription medications such as prednisone.

Does bleach help with poison ivy or oak rash?

Bleach can be very damaging to your skin and may cause irritation. Avoid using bleach as it may cause your condition to become worse.

Still have questions? Feel free to send it in to us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for a FREE PDF download

 
 

Poison oak vs poison ivy infographic

[Download Infographic PDF]

Is it poison oak or is it poison ivy? Most people watch out for "leaves of three" but don't really know the difference. They do have in common the same rash-causing resin, called urushiol. Urushiol is found in all parts of the plants, even if the plant has died. Any interaction with the plant may cause your body to come in contact with urushiol.

So what is the difference between the two?

Poison ivy grows throughout North America and Canada, with the exception of Oregon. Alaska, Hawaii and California. Poison oak is found in Oregon, Washington, California and along the Atlantic Coast.

Both plants grow as a shrub or a climbing vine, but poison ivy may also grow as ground cover. The climbing vines are very difficult to identify in the winter when the leaves fall off - be careful when using firewood with vines wrapped around them!

Both plants grow as leaflets of three and vary in color from green to bright red as they change with the seasons. Poison oak leaves are shaped like a true oak with rounded tips where poison ivy leaves are more almond shaped and pointed at the ends.

Both plants produce berries. Poison oak has greenish white or tan berries, and poison ivy has greyish white berries.

Need some images? Check out our poison plant identification page.

 
 

Poison ivy spreading - Unexpected Sources of Poison Ivy or Oak Rash

(Click on image to download PDF)

Have you ever had a rash from poison ivy, oak or sumac and had no idea how such a thing could have happened? You feel like the poison ivy is spreading and out of control. 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 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 and you may have no idea your pet is the cause of poison ivy spreading.
  • 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 plants.
  • 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.

 

 
 

What causes contact dermatitis

(Download full size infographic)

You go to the doctor with a mystery rash and he or she tells you that it is allergic contact dermatitis. Those few large words mean your skin has reacted to what it identifies as a foreign substance. The miserable, itchy rash that appears is your body's way of defending against whatever irritant you have come in contact with.

If this happens to you, you are not alone. Seven percent of all allergy sufferers struggle with skin allergies. In our infographic above, we show some of the common causes of allergic contact dermatitis:

  • Perfumes and fragrances
  • Cosmetics
  • Soaps and detergents
  • Rubber boots or shoes made with synthetic materials
  • Jewelry and/or contact with metals such as nickel
  • Poison ivy, oak and sumac plants

Note that all three plants - poison ivy, oak and sumac - produce an oily resin called urushiol (pronounced oo-roo-she-all). You can't see urushiol, but a very small amount can cause a very serious allergic reaction in highly sensitive people. Other plants, such as mangos, cashews and the poodle-dog bush (found in California) can also cause contact dermatitis.

What should you do if you have contact dermatitis?

Anytime you have a rash that appears and you are not sure of the cause, you should always consult a medical professional. A pharmacist or physician may be able to tell you what it is by looking at the rash and asking a few basic questions. Many doctors will recommend using an over-the-counter anti-itch treatment as the first step. They may recommend prescription medications if the over-the-counter solutions do not work.

Be sure to call your doctor if you use a medication and the symptoms get worse, or if it becomes inflamed, hot or swollen as that may be a sign of infection.

 
 

What Tecnu Do I Use?

(Click on InfoGraphic to download PDF)

You have an unbelievable itch from poison ivy, oak or sumac. You are standing in front of the first aid shelf at the pharmacy. As you look over all of the options to relieve itching, you are overwhelmed and confused by the choices. You have heard Tecnu brand products are great for poison plant rash, but which one do you use?

The Tecnu brand has come up with a variety of solutions for poison ivy, oak and sumac rash in an effort to meet everyone's individual needs. Here is a breakdown of our top 4 best sellers to help you choose the best fit for you:

Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser - this is a cleanser to wash off the plant's oil that causes poison ivy, oak or sumac rash. You can use Tecnu Original after you know you have been exposed to the plants and before you get a rash, or you can use it after the rash has begun. The cleanser will only remove the source of poison plant rash to keep it from bonding to your skin. You can also use Tecnu Original on other objects like tools, equipment, clothing and your pet's fur to remove the oil from these surfaces.

Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub - this is an exfoliating cleanser that will cleanse deep to remove poison ivy, oak and sumac oil. Tecnu Extreme can be used in the shower to cleanse your entire body.

Tecnu Rash Relief Spray with Scar Prevention - sometimes the poison ivy, oak or sumac rash is so painful you don't want to touch it. Just spray on homeopathic Tecnu Rash Relief to help dry oozing, promote healing, prevent scarring, and stop itching and pain without touching the rash. It's great for those hard to reach places too!

Calagel Medicated Anti-itch Gel -a great anti-itch treatment to use after washing with Tecnu Original or Tecnu Extreme. Similar to a more traditional anti-itch remedy without the pink runny mess, Calagel offers hours of itch relief with the added benefits of an antihistamine to reduce swelling and an astringent to help dry out an oozing rash.

 

 
 

Tecnu App poison ivy and oak guide for Android and iOS

From Tecnu®, the trusted experts in poison ivy and oak, we are offering a free phone app to help you identify poison ivy, oak and sumac plants.

Our app includes:

  • A United States map of where poison ivy, oak and sumac plants are commonly found. At least one of these three plants is found in every state in the nation.
  • Pictures to help you identify poison ivy, oak and sumac plants. Half the battle is knowing what the plants look like so we have them pictured in various seasons showing the plants in their various colors.
  • A list of frequently asked questions about poison ivy, oak and sumac. Not sure how you can get poison oak from your dog? Can you get a poison ivy rash from someone else? We have those questions and many more answered for you.
  • How to use Tecnu video clips.
  • A breakdown of the entire Tecnu product line including product descriptions and where to purchase so you can select the right product for your needs.

 

Download Tecnu poison ivy and oak app on the apple store Download Tecnu poison ivy and oak app on Google play
 
 

Calagel drug facts and label information

Active ingredient:

Diphenhydramine HCl 2% - Purpose: topical analgesic / antihistamine

Inactive ingredients:

benzethonium chloride, disodium EDTA, fragrance, hypromellose, menthol, polysorbate 20, purified water, sodium metabisulfite, zinc acetate

Uses:

  • For temporary relief of pain and itching associated with minor burns, sunburn, minor cuts, scrapes, insect bites, minor skin irritations, rashes due to: poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac.

Warnings:

  • For external use only.
  • Do not use:
    • if allergic to sulfites.
    • on children under 2 unless directed by a doctor.
    • with any other product containing diphenhydramine, even one taken by mouth.
    • on deep puncture wounds, animal bites or serious burns unless directed by a doctor.
    • on large areas of the body.
  • Ask a doctor before using on chicken pox or measles.
  • Keep out of reach of children.
  • If swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.
  • Avoid contact with eyes.
  • Stop use and ask a doctor if condition worsens or if symptoms persist for more than 7 days or clear up and occur again within a few days.

Directions:

Adults and children 2 years and older:

  1. Do not use more often than directed.
  2. Cleanse skin with soap and warm water. Dry affected area.
  3. Apply to affected area not more than 3 times daily.
  4. May be covered with a sterile bandage. If bandaged, let dry first.

Children under 2 years of age:

  1. Do not use, consult a doctor.

Other information:

Store at 59-86°F (15-30°C)

 

 
 

Tecnu Extreme label informationWarnings:

CAUTION: KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN

For external use only. Do not use on raw or oozing areas of skin. If redness or irritation occurs, discontinue use and consult a doctor. Keep out of eyes.

Directions for use:

Wet affected area with cool water. Squeeze desired amount of product into hand. Apply to exposed areas and gently rub for 15 seconds; if hypersensitive, wash entire body with Tecnu Extreme. Rinse with cool running water and towel dry. Repeat as needed.

Ingredients:

Water, polyoxyethylene (4) lauryl ether, polysorbate 20, alcohol, silicon dioxide, carbomer, grindelia robusta extract, benzethonium chloride, aminomethyl propanol, fragrance

 
 

Tecnu Original label informationIngredients:

deodorized mineral spirits, water, propylene glycol, octylphenoxy-polythoxethanol, mixed fatty acid soap, fragrance

Uses:

  • Removes poison oak and ivy oil, urushiol, that causes rash and itching
  • Tecnu is most effective when used within the first two hours after exposure or as soon as rash appears

Warnings:

  • Keep out of reach of children.
  • For external use only.
  • Should not be applied to raw or oozing area of skin.
  • If redness occurs, discontinue use and consult a physician.
  • Keep out of eyes and other mucous membranes.

Directions:

Before the rash has started:

  1. Apply Tecnu to exposed unwetted skin within 8 hours after exposure to poisonous plants.
  2. Rub vigorously for 2 minutes to remove oil and other contaminants from skin. If hyper-sensitive, wash entire body with Tecnu.
  3. Rinse skin clean with cool running water or wipe off with a cloth. Repeat.

As soon as rash appears:

  1. Apply Tecnu to affected skin and surrounding areas. For best results apply to entire body. Rub in for 2 minutes but avoid breaking the skin.
  2. Rinse with cool running water to remove Tecnu and poison oils. If itching persists, reapply Tecnu, then rinse in a very warm shower (not a bath).
  3. Towel dry gently
  4. Repeat as necessary and before retiring.

To clean pets:

  1. Saturate a cloth with Tecnu and wipe down the pet's coat.
  2. Follow with pet shampoo and water bath.
  3. Tecnu can also remove skunk spray from your pet's fur.

To clean clothing:

  1. Saturate unwetted clothing with Tecnu in a bucket for several minutes.
  2. Launder by itself with detergent and hot water.
  3. Check for color fastness by testing a concealed corner of the fabric.

To clean tools:

  1. Wipe down tools with a cloth saturated with Tecnu.
  2. Wash with soap and water.

To remove sap and pitch:

  1. Apply Tecnu directly and rub until stain dissolves to clean pitch, tree sap, road tar, grass stains and other substances from skin, tools and clothing.
  2. Wash with soap and water.
 
 

Tecnu Rash Relief drug facts and label information*Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated.

Active ingredients:

Grindelia robusta 3X - Purpose: anti-itch / skin protection

Calendula officinalis 3X - Purpose: wound healing / scar prevention

Inactive ingredients:

disodium EDTA, fragrance, glycerine, menthol, polyoxl 35 castor oil, purified water, SD alcohol 40B (14% by weight), tea tree oil, white thyme oil

Uses:

  • Temporarily relieves the pain and itching due to poison oak, poison ivy, poison sumac, hives, insect bites, and minor cuts, scrapes and burns.

Warnings:

  • For external use only.
  • Do not use on severe, draining rashes.
  • Do not use if pregnant, ask a health professional before use.
  • Keep out of reach of children.
  • If swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.
  • Keep out of eyes.
  • Stop use and ask a doctor if condition worsens, or if symptoms persist for more than 7 days or clear up and occur again within a few days.

Directions:

Adults and children 2 years and older:

  1. When practical, wash affected area with soap and water or Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub before application to remove poison oil.
  2. Spray onto affected area as needed.

Children under 2 years of age:

  1. Consult a doctor before use.

Other information:

Store at 59-86°F (15-30°C)

 
 

How to find the year your Tecnu was manufactured:

Every product is marked with a batch code that begins with a letter followed by 4 or 5 numbers.

Below is the list of letter codes and corresponding years:

  • B - 2004
  • C - 2005
  • D - 2006
  • E - 2007
  • F - 2008
  • G - 2009
  • H - 2010
  • J - 2011
  • K - 2012
  • L - 2013
  • M - 2014
  • N - 2015
  • P - 2016
  • R - 2017
  • T - 2018
  • U - 2019

So, for example, the batch code M2009 would have been made in 2014.

How old is my Tecnu bottle?

Where do I find the batch code?

  • Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser - batch code is printed vertically on the label
  • Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub - batch code is embossed in the crimp of the tube
  • Tecnu Calagel Medicated Anti-itch Gel - batch code is printed vertically on the label along with an expiration date
  • Tecnu Rash Relief Spray - batch code is printed vertically on the label

How long can I use these products?

Calagel is the only product that has an expiration date. We do not recommend using it past the expiration date.

For all other products, we recommend throwing them out if they were manufactured more than three years ago. Tecnu Original will also change color as it ages. If your Tecnu Original turns yellow or brownish in color, throw it away and purchase new product.