Poison Ivy

I have no idea why there are so many myths about poison ivy.

Poison ivy has an oil called urushiol that causes a rash on skin in something like 85% of humans. There is truly nothing else to it. That’s it!!!!

The rash does not spread. Our skin has different thicknesses and the oil takes longer to penetrate some areas than others, so the rash can show up some places faster than others. You also might have gotten a huge gob on your arm and just a little brush on your leg, so maybe the arm rash shows up first.  You might have a rash on your arms on day one and a rash on your feet pops up on day two. It didn’t spread, it just took longer to show up on the feet. I hope that makes sense.  It’s like at a meeting how some people show up late. The meeting isn’t spreading around, the people in the meeting aren’t multiplying on the spot, some people are just showing up late. That other part of your rash slept through the alarm.

Poison ivy oil does not “go systemic”, it does not spread when you pop the blisters, you cannot avoid getting it by eating small amounts of the leaves (this can actually kill you), you cannot avoid getting it by drinking the milk of goats who have eaten it. I’m so sorry, there is no magic way to avoid getting it, and the people that don’t get it simple haven’t gotten it *yet*. They’re lucky, not using “this one great trick no one wants to tell you”.  It’s a bummer, I know.

Back to the blisters. Blisters are full of a liquid that your body produces. There is NO poison ivy oil in the blisters. Smart people have sucked that fluid out with needles and looked at it really closely in their smart ways, and those smart people have had poison ivy just like you have and they also desperately want to find a magic solution. Sadly, they didn’t. It’s just regular ol’ blister fluid in there, same stuff as when you get a blister from your new shoes. Disappointment all around.

To avoid getting poison ivy, first avoid touching the plant, and never ever ever ever burn it. If you touch it, scrub yourself with strong soap and water. I like to use Dawn dish detergent- think about it, that’s what they use to wash crude oil off of sea creatures. It’s great at removing oils. It’s also way cheaper than fancy soap that’s marketed as ‘for poison ivy’. You don’t really need that stuff, dish detergent will definitely get the grease off. Maybe use some lotion after you shower because your skin will be really dry.  Also wash your clothes (with soap). Yes, all of the clothes, even your vest that you never wash. Yes, with clothes detergent. Shoes and tools can be cleaned with alcohol. Unless you wash a few minutes after you touch it you’re unlikely to avoid the rash entirely, but it’s still worth trying.

The oil can stay on clothes, shoes, tools, etc up to a year or more, and you can get it later by touching these items.

I know it might seem disappointing to stop believing in the ‘it goes systemic’ thing or the ‘magic goat milk’ thing, but there’s loads of magic in the world without us needing to make stuff up, I promise.  Happy summer!

 

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