Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Information Center

Q&A Board

Re: I just can't get any straight answers that don't conflict...

Subject: Re: I just can't get any straight answers that don't conflict...
Author: Jim
Date: 5/10/2003 10:49 am
Views: 10272
Status: Approved
« Previous Thread
Next Thread »
Back To Message List
Let see if we can set the record straight. People continue to think that the poison ivy rash is "contagious" either due to additional spots showing up over time or due to the oozing from the blistery rash. The fact here is that additional spots show up over time based on the amounts of oil at the location and their sensitivity. People also tend to reinfect themselves from items not fully decontaminated such as shoes, clothes, pets, garden tools, etc. Urushiol oil is very stable and keeps its potency for years in the absense of oxidation (exposure to air). The oil can be passed from person to person by touch if the oil has not bonded to that person's skin and it is also readily transferred from contaminated clothing, objects, fur, under finger nails from scratching, shoes, etc.

Here are a few facts:

  • Fluid of blisters is not contagious.
  • Fluid of blisters is not the urushiol oil
  • Once bonded the oil can not be passed as it is difficult to impossible to remove. It penetrates the epidermal layer of the skin and binds to proteins of deeper skin cell membranes. This bonded urushiol is nearly impossible to wash off. This is why the literature says it is not contagious I suspect. This is also why most products do not claim to work after the rash has begun and to use their product as soon as possible.
  • The poison ivy rash is not contageous
In fact, it is speculated in some research that urushiol by itself wouldn't initiate your body to defend itself with a full blown immunne response ...but this bonded urushiol to your skins protein becomes a warning flag for your bodys patrolling T-cells (thymus cells) .. See this link this further details

These bonded urushiol oil protein cells migrates to a nearby lymph node by way of blood vessels in the dermis layer where they are noticed by T-cells specially programmed for invading cells and viruses much like security guards checking I.D. cards.

Once these T-cells notice the bonded urushiol oil protein cells, they produce more clones of itself and release special proteins which attract a legion of different white blood cells including cell engulfing macrophages and killer T-cells. This new army of white blood cells release enzymes and protein toxins that destroy everything in the vicinity including the membrane bound urushiol oil and other skin cells. Fluid oozes from the blood vessels and edema and cell death of skin tissue results. Milder effects range from redness to itching (nerve injury) to small blisters.

The oozing is caused by gaps in the blood vessels that leak fluid through the skin. Cooling the vessels cause them to constrict and not leak as much reducing the blistering.

Once an allergic reaction had begun and the body has begun to kill off the skin cells at that site, there is no magic bullet for the rash disappearing. This is injured skin that the body will need to heal.

Does this answer your question?

Let's get more comments from others and build it into an informational page.

I just can't get any straight (Approved)Jeff5/9/2003 6:52 pm
  Re: I just can't get any straiJim5/10/2003 10:49 am
    Re: I just can't get any strai (Approved)Jeff5/13/2003 8:42 am
      Re: I just can't get any straiJim5/13/2003 9:11 am
        Re: I just can't get any strai (Approved)Jeff5/13/2003 9:37 am
    Re: I just can't get any strai (Approved)Alexander4/24/2004 12:41 pm
    Re: I just can't get any strai (Approved)Visitor9/3/2007 5:38 pm