Help... I touched It!!
First Steps After Exposure to Poison Ivy

OK, so you've just gotten the perfect picture of a wildflower. You stand up, look down, and realize you were just kneeling next to poison ivy. Did your arm brush into in? Did your camera strap touch it? Did you accidentally kneel in it instead of next to it?!

Do not panic! There are things you can do!

Poison ivy tends to grow amongst other plants, which makes it especially difficult to spot sometimes. Here it is with a raspberry bush and some other plants.

If you think you have come in contact with poison ivy or an item contaminated with the poison ivy oil, the best thing you can do is wash with soap and cool or cold water as soon as possible. Use cool or cold water because hot water can open your pores and let the oil in. Remember that it's the urushiol oil that causes the rash and irritation, so the goal is to get it off of your skin effectively and as soon as possible. If you can get the oil off in under 10 minutes, you may be able to prevent the rash. The sooner you can remove the oil, the better.

There's some disagreement about what kind of soap to use. Some say regular soap is OK to use, but others say that soaps that contain oils (such as moisturizing soaps) might just spread the urushiol oil around on you. I prefer Dawn dishwashing liquid since it has the ability to dissolve grease and oil. I don't spread it on thin, either, I really lay it on thick and wash my suspected area of exposure several times.

If you're at home, this procedure is easy. But if you're outdoors with no sink in sight, that's another story. Since a portion of this website is devoted to photography in the great outdoors, here are some first response ideas for contact when you're not at home:


Broad Leaf Plantain

Narrow Leaf (or Lance Leaf) Plantain

Other Poison Ivy Topics: