White Paper – Poison Ivy

Facts: (Leaves of three, let it be.)
  • Poison ivy looks different depending on the
  • Poison ivy leaves release a clear fluid called
    urushiol. Urushiol turns into black lacquer
    after being exposed to oxygen.

  • Urushiol is what causes a poison ivy rash.
  • Up to 80% of the US population is sensitive to
    poison ivy.
  • A person’s sensitivity to poison ivy increases
    with age.
  • Be careful burning poison ivy leaves because
    the smoke can get into the lungs and make it
    difficult to breathe.
Signs & Symptoms

The first sign of a poison ivy reaction is extreme
itching followed by weeping lesions that eventually crust over. The first couple of days are
the most uncomfortable. There are many over-the-counter products that are available to help
with poison ivy.


IvyBlock lotion

  • Only FDA approved protection against exposure
  • Do not use on children 6 years old or younger
  • Do not use around eyes, wounds, or existing poison ivy rash
  • Highly flammable
  • Apply at least 15 minutes before exposure
  • Reapply every 4 hours


  • Effective at removing urushiol
  • Reduces redness and blistering after exposure

Tecnu Outdoor Skin Cleanser

  • Effective at removing urushiol
  • Relieves itching

Treatment for Itching & Lesions:

Hydrocortisone Cream

  • Apply 2-4 times a day as needed
  • Do not apply bandage/dressing
  • Only use for 7 days Calamine
  • Helps relieve itching -Assists in drying of lesions


  • Helps relieve itching
  • Assists in drying of lesions
Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is my poison ivy rash contagious?
A: No. The rash cannot pass from person to person after the urushiol is removed.

Q: What is the difference between poison ivy
and poison oak?
A: Poison ivy and poison oak leaves look slightly different. However, coming in contact with either one will cause the same type of rash and can be treated the same.

Q: How long will my poison ivy rash last?
A: A poison ivy rash will resolve within 10-21 days on its own.

References: Winter, Abby. “Contact Dermatitis & Poison Ivy” PHPR 661-Pharmacotherapy. University of Kansas School of Pharmacy,
Lawrence. 3 March 2016. Lecture.

McKayla Edwards
Pharm D candidate
Kansas University School of Pharmacy