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Four Surprising Myths about Poison Ivy

Naman Jain
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  • 12 Sep, 2018 4:45 pm

Having a raging case of poison ivy isn’t a laughing matter. It can be absolutely tortuous! Not only is the incessant itching maddening, but it also makes the sufferer feel like a leper. After all, who wants to get near anyone with a red and weeping contagious rash? Maybe it’s not as contagious as it appears. There are numerous misnomers about poison ivy. People believe what they’ve been told. After all, if grandma said so it must be true! Whether the information came from your mother, your grandmother, your neighbor’s second cousin, or the Internet, it might not be fact. Consider the following four surprising myths about poison ivy, and learn the truth about a very itchy and highly misunderstood plant.

I’m Not Allergic to Poison Ivy

We’ve all heard someone brag about their immunity to poison ivy. Some claim they can roll in it and not develop a rash. That’s true for first-timers. People will not develop a rash the first time they touch poison ivy and related plants. However, statistics say they will likely become sensitive after initial contact. It’s said that up to 85% of people are allergic to urushiol, the oil in poison ivy and related plants. As many as 15% of those people are extremely allergic, meaning they can have a severe allergic reaction after initial contact. Those who think they aren’t allergic might not be as fortunate the next time around.

Fluid from Poison Ivy Blisters Causes the Rash to Spread

Those who’ve had poison ivy know how quickly it spreads. The fluid-filled bumps can start out on a finger and end up from head to toe. One of the four surprising myths about poison ivy is how the rash spreads. It isn’t spread through the fluid that seeps from the blisters. The offending oil, urushiol, is the culprit. Yes, it can spread through itching if urushiol is transferred from the fingers to other areas. It can also become airborne if it’s burned, but it isn’t contagious – at least not in the true sense of the word.

I’m Only Allergic to Poison Sumac

Once again, those who claim to be immune from the effects of poison ivy may be in for an unpleasant surprise. You may have heard someone say that they’re allergic to poison sumac but not poison ivy or oak. If they are allergic to poison sumac, they’re also allergic to poison ivy and poison oak. Contrary to popular belief, these plants all contain the same nasty irritant. A person can’t be allergic to one and not the others.

Poison Ivy Only Grows in Wooded Areas

Those who don’t take precautions because they think that poison ivy can’t grow on their property may be in for a rude and itchy awakening. Yes, it’s prevalent in many wooded areas, but it can also grow in flowerbeds and gardens – unless of course you live in Hawaii, Alaska, or desert regions along the West Coast. It doesn’t just grow on the forest floor or climb the trunks of trees. You may find small sprouts in your landscape mulch or covering the ground elsewhere on your property. If you do, don’t fall victim to one of the many myths. Know your facts, and arm yourself, family members, and even your pets against the ravages of this common and toxic plant.


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