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Poison Ivy Myths

Myth: The rash from poison ivy is contagious.

Truth: The skin effects from poison ivy are caused by an allergic reaction to the oily resin inside of the plant.  This resin is not “poisonous”.  Many believe poison ivy is contagious because they got a rash without touching the plant.  This can happen when the resin from poison ivy clings to a garden tool, an article of clothing, a pet, or other object and then an individual touches that specific object.  Poison ivy is not spread by someone coming into contact with the rash on another person.

Myth: A person can dry out a poison ivy rash by putting bleach or gasoline on the rash.

Truth:  While this will cause a drying effect, there is a high risk for skin burns.  Bleach is an irritant that can cause burns if not immediately washed off.  Bleach on an open wound increases the risk for skin injury.  Burns on top of a poison ivy rash will result in increased pain and infection risk.

Myth: A person can be desensitized to poison ivy by eating the leaves.

Truth:  A person is more likely to get a poison ivy rash at the opening or ending of the digestive tract than they are to eat the poison ivy in a manner that would result in desensitization.  

Myth:  Burning poison ivy plants is an efficient way to get rid of them without having to touch them.

Truth: Never burn poison ivy. Burning the plant can release the oily resin into the air and cause moderate to severe irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.