6 Ways to Get Poison Ivy or Oak without Touching the Plant


Have you ever had a mysterious poison ivy or oak rash pop up and you can’t figure out how you got that? You didn’t go camping, take a hike in the woods, or even venture outdoors.


Well it’s because of how the plant causes the rash. Your body has an allergic reaction to the oil found in all parts of the plant called urushiol (pronounced oo-roo-she-all). That oil can stay very potent for a very long period of time and can travel on any other surface that it may have come in contact with.


Here are 6 ways you can get a poison oak and ivy rash without even touching the plants:

  • 1) – From Your Dog, Cat or Other Furry Friend : Your pets may love to explore the outdoors and they have this wonderful layer of fur that protects them from the irritating poison plant oil, urushiol. Fur is also a perfect surface for urushiol to stick to. So the next time your pets rub against your legs, or you bend down to pat them on the head, you can come in contact with the oil.

  • 2) – Gardening Tools and Gloves : If you have used your gardening tools or gloves around poison ivy or oak, it is possible urushiol has been left on the surface of them. Urushiol can sit on your gardening tools for years so the next time you are in contact with them, you can pick up the oil.

  • 3) – Lawn Mower or Weed Whacker : When plowing through or hacking down poison ivy or oak, urushiol can stick to your lawn mower or weed whacker and transfer to you the next time you mow the lawn.

  • 4) – Washing Clothing : This is a common complaint from families of outdoor workers. Urushiol can sit on clothing that you wear when trekking through poison ivy or oak and the person who washes the clothes unknowingly comes in contact with the oil.

  • 5) – Mountain Bike : You rode through a vegetable tunnel surrounded by poison oak. Urushiol can stick to your bike as well as your skin so the next time you go out for your ride you are in contact with urushiol.

  • 6) – Airborne : It is extremely dangerous to burn poison ivy or oak as the urushiol can become airborne. One way this happens unintentionally is when dead poison ivy or oak is wrapped around firewood. Inhaling this oil can result in a severe reaction, so if you think you have inhaled urushiol it is important to see a physician.

Urushiol can be cleaned off of many of these items using Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser. Click for Cleaning Instructions.


Lisa Leverich
TecLabs, Inc.


The International Academy of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine