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Health Forum    Other - General Health Care
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Does poison ivy spread by scratching the rash? Can it spread from person to person?
I have been told that it cannot spread to another person, but I have also been told that it can spread by scratching it.

Poison Ivy can spread from scratching and touching another part of your body, as well as person to person through touch depending on the other person's aversion to it.

Yeah don't scratch and use an antibiotic.

I think is is oil based, so it is probably VERY easy to spread from person to person with direct contact. I hope you don't have it, I hear is is VERY uncomfortable.

yes and yes to both questions. Cortisone cream is a good treatment, apply it after washing the area with alcohol

I was at the doctors the other day for poison Ivy and was told that it can not spread from scratching but it is the oils of the plant that are in the clothing, or on bedsheets if you did not shower after being exposed that makes it appear it is spreading. If you have poison Ivy change your bed linens, wash the clothes you were wearing, bathe any pets that may have been exposed.

This is technically "no", but effectively sort of "yes"

The thing that causes the reaction (rash, etc.) from poison Ivy/poison oak is the urushiol oil from the plant.
This binds very strongly to skin oils, which can then be transferred from person to person - or to other parts of your own body.

The rash itself is not contagious, but if you haven't cleaned away all the plant oils, scratching that area and then touching elsewhere or someone else can cause it to spread.

yes scratching will spread the infection and any one who touches it or your contaminated(no offense) hand will get it.It is very communicable

I am something of the poison Ivy king. I used to get it all the time for a while there and each time it was worse because I had become sensitised. Even had it around my eyes and just about everywhere else. Yes, there too. Terrible stuff.

You can get it from someone burning its leaves, you can get it from clothing, shoes and someone's bedding (sheets, blankets, pillow cases). So yes! It can be spread person to person.

Spread by scratching.. Sure. Also, scratching it make it take longer to heal.

No, if your poison Ivy spreads or seems to spread in straight lines (you'll know it when you see it), or it seems to be mostly between your fingers, then you may have something else like scabbies.

yes, so put Calamine lotion on a.s.a.p.

yes and yes, dont touch it or other people, wash it with soap and water. it spreads everywhere. it definately spreads to others

Stephen K
Yes. When you get poison Ivy, it's VERY important not to scratch!!! If you scratch let's say your leg then your eye, not a good situation to be in. The best remedy to prevent scratching is to put something like a cream or lotion on it. I personally like to put baby powder on it b/c it tends to cover up the rash a bit and medicate it as well. It also helps with the oozing.

Yes it spreads when you scratch. The "poison" binds to your skin.

From: Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Information Center FAQs
(Third Choice on the Left)
"Rhus plants(poison Ivy, poison oak, poison sumac) are the most common cause of allergic contact dermatitis in the US. Rhus plans contain the potent antigen urushiol, which will sensitize 60% to 80% of the persons who are exposed to it. ...(It) may be carried on the fur of pets, clothing, shoes, toys, tools, or other objects and then transferred to the skin. Approximately 24 to 36 hrs after a sensitized person is exposed to the urushiol, a blistery, itching rash develops. Usually within 15 minutes of contact, the urushiol binds to skin proteins. If it is washed off with soap and water before that time, a reaction may be prevented. After the antigen is fixed, however, it cannot be washed off or transferred to other areas. Scratching or oozing blister fluid cannot spread the antigen to other areas of the body or to other persons. New lesions that appear a few days after the primary lesions represent less sensitive areas or areas where less antigen was deposited, not spreading of the antigen. Because the course of the reaction usually is 12 to 15 days, 2 weeks of medication should be prescribed. Reference [Dermatology in Primary Care 1994]

it spreads both ways, and if you have it please stay away from me...I may not die from it, but I'll be miserable for over a week, and that's if I take my meds

Saddennis Recipes
yes it goes from person to person, because when you scratch a place on your body, the oil ( which is what makes you itch ) gets on your hands and then it can be transferred. I've had poison Ivy, poison oak and poison sumac all at the same time. my eyes were swollen shut! not that you needed to know that, but it can get ugly, so get some Calamine lotion, and if you need to itch, even though you shouldn't...get a plastic fork, or something you can throw away and lightly itch it just to pass the itchy feeling. Don't use your nails or anything really sharp because you'll leave scars.


Yes and Yes.

It can also be on your pet's fur and you get it by petting it.

Yes and yes! Antihistamine for the allergy itch, Calamine lotion to dry up the oils from the Ivy you have on you. And wash your hands a lot

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