Growing up in Southern Illinois, I was always taught to avoid people with a poison ivy rash because they are contagious. Did you know that this is not true? Shocking, isn’t it? The blisters in the rash are not filled with the oil from poison ivy plant. They are filled with your own bodily fluid. (I know that some of you are wanting to argue with me, but it’s the truth, I promise!) To explain this a little further, let me give you some examples…
Little Johnny is 6 years old. He sees a frog and chases into a patch of poison ivy. Little Johnny is so excited about the frog that he trips over a limb in the grass and scuffs his chin. He goes running and crying to his Mom who picks him up and comforts him. At this point, little Johnny has poison ivy oil all over him, and just rubbed it on his Mom. Later that evening, when his Mom washes little Johnny’s clothes, she gets more poison ivy oil on herself. A few days later, little Johnny and his unknowing Mom both develop a rash.
Now that little Johnny has had a bath and his clothes have been washed, he is no longer contagious. The rash is not contagious.
An unfortunate scenario that happens often:
Little Johnny goes to school on Monday, and no one will come near him because he has a rash. Then the school principal calls his Mom and tells her to keep little Johnny home until the rash is gone so that he does not spread it to others.
Please do not be afraid of people with a poison ivy rash. They will not give it to you. The oil is no longer on them once they have had a bath or shower. Please don’t keep little Johnny home from school. He needs to learn! (This also goes for poison oak and poison sumac.) Also, if the poison ivy rash gets too unbearable, come see us up at Skin Care Center of Southern Illinois. We can help you with proven poison ivy treatments!
Tina Hall, NP-C, is a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and is currently accepting new patients for medical and cosmetic dermatology.