How evil is poison ivy?

poison ivy

Urushiol oil [the toxin in poison ivy] stays active on any surface, including dead plants, for up to 5 years.

This includes on clothing too. Like the hunter who gets it again the next year and can’t figure out how. It was on his jacket. Or like me. After getting reinfected three times in the same place, I finally decided the evil demon urushiol was on my jeans and tossed out three pair (yes, they’d been washed, several times too.)

How bad can a poison ivy rash get? This bad. (Viewer discretion advised, seriously…)

Evolutionary theory says that nasty effects like these have survival value and increase the ability of the species to survive. Yet only a few mammals get a nasty reaction to poison ivy. Most animals are not affected at all by it. So, how does being toxic to humans help poison ivy survive when other animals can presumably eat it?

My theory is that poison ivy is just freaking evil…


  1. Alright, I’m here to solve your problems. I run in the woods several times a week, I’m very susceptible to poison oak (the Western counterpart to poison ivy), and I have contracted it, in cases ranging from mild to very bad (leaving scars), dozens of times.

    But…in the last month or so, despite running in places where I know I must have contacted poison oak (not deliberately, of course), I’ve been rash free, thanks to two new (to me, anyway) products (and I’ve tried many over the years, believe me). The first is a “pre” product called “Ivy-Dry Defense.” It’s a cream, with SPF 25, so you can use it as an (expensive) sunscreen. The second is a “post” product called “Tecnu Extreme.” I’ve used Tecnu itself for years, which is a liquid, which really isn’t convenient to use except once you get home into the shower, which may be too late. Tecnu Extreme is a gel, which you can (and I have) used in the field in conjunction with only a water bottle. You squeeze some into your hand, add a little water, and then scrub an area (arm, leg, whatever) for 15 seconds (I do 30), then wash it off with water. The tube claims it’s a homeopathic product, which I generally put in the same category as fortune telling, but in this case there’s a secret ingredient which I think must be sand because it always feels very gritty which makes it very effective at scrubbing off the oil.

    I’ve used these products separately, and together, but so far so good. They are, as so many of these things are, quite expensive – like $15 for a tube. But if you need it, you need it, and these two products definitely get the thumbs up.

  2. Zanfel works wonders for me in getting urushiol off the skin, even weeks after infection. Nothing else can do it weeks after.

    Yet mine kept recurring, in the exact same place too. Back of calves. Hadn’t been near poison ivy in shorts so it has to be the jeans, they somehow got the toxic on them.

    At least I hope that’s what it is.

    Will look at Ivy Dry Defense as a good “pre” product.

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