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What to do if Exposed to Poison Ivy

Pine Tar Salve

What to do if I’ve just been exposed to plants in Poison Ivy Family

First thing you want to do if you think you’ve been exposed to Poison Ivy, Poison Oak or Poison Sumac is to try to wash as much as possible. It is an invisible sap or resin that you are reacting to. Using the right soap for the job will help. Soap that is grease cutting is thought to be best. My pine tar soap will work great without drying but just use the strongest soap you’ve got on hand. Wash as soon as possible.

Old fashioned yellow soap is the traditional recommendation. If in a pinch, a little bit of diluted clothing detergent will work. While washing off the plant resin, don’t scrub your skin because you don’t want to work it in. Focus on washing it away by lathering gently and rinsing with plenty of water. If using clothing detergent, rinse immediately as it can irritate the skin and leave it vulnerable to the resin. Then follow with with a nice moisturizing soap.

It isn’t a bad idea to wash several more times within 8 hours.

Next wash your shoes, clothes and your dog.

For your

  • Shoes use rubbing alcohol.
  • Clothes, wash as usual in clothing detergent.
  • Dog, do not use any strong soap or detergent which could endanger your dog’s health. Instead, wash your dog with a dog shampoo (you could use my dog shampoo which dogs like and it has skin benefits). Dogs are rarely allergic to poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac but it is possible.

The resins of poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak can stick to anything, can be potent for more than a year and be transferred to you from objects. You might want to wear gloves while handling your shoes, clothes or while washing your dog. This is especially true if you know your dog just ran through a patch of poison ivy!

It was once thought that the poison ivy blisters could spread the poison ivy if scratched. This isn’t true. Only the actual resin will cause a reaction.

If it is too late and you are already starting to react to poison ivy, then you might want to try my Pine Tar Salve. Read about what I found out about Pine Tar and Poison Ivy here.

The name of the component in the sap that causes an allergic reaction is urushiol. You aren’t born allergic to it, you need to be exposed to it first before your body develops allergic response. About 20% to 30% of people don’t ever develop a negative response to it. If you do develop an allergy, you will be allergic to Poison ivy, oak and sumac. You may also have some sensitivity to almond and mango trees.

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