Common Sayings About Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac: Fact or Fiction

Posted on July 21, 2021 at 12:00 PM by Tom Swegle

View post titled Common Sayings About Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac: Fact or Fiction

Test Your Knowledge!

There are many urban legends and home remedies for poison ivy. Here are some that we’ve heard, and whether or not they are true. Test your knowledge with these ten fact or fiction statements! 

Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac only grow in the northern parts of the United States and Canada. 

FALSE - these plants grow throughout North America in swamps, forests, and even in neighborhoods. 

Leaves of three, leave it be!

FALSE - While it’s true that poison ivy has three leaves, poison oak and poison sumac have both been known to grow in leaves of three to thirteen! The biggest difference is that poison oak has rounded lobes that resemble the leaves from an oak tree. Poison sumac has an odd-pinnate leaf structure. 

Reactions and blisters can show up on the skin three days after contact.

TRUE - Rashes and blisters from poison oak, ivy, and sumac can show up anytime after contact. However, most reactions occur within 24 - 72 hours.

Poisonous plants are only dangerous if you touch them.

FALSE - Burning, weed whacking/ weed eating, and mowing over poisonous plants can cause the urushiol to vaporize. Inhaling vaporized oils from poison ivy, oak, and sumac can damage the lungs and may require a doctor to prescribe a steroid. 

Clothes protect you from the harmful oils in poison ivy, oak, and sumac. 

TRUE - urushiol rarely makes it past clothing and onto the skin. Wearing long sleeves, pants, closed-toe shoes, and tall socks can prevent the oil from making contact. 

The dangerous plant oils can still stick to the skin if it’s been humid or rainy.

TRUE - oils from poison ivy, oak and sumac are not washed away by rain or dried up by drought. If skin makes contact with a poisonous plant, wash immediately with soap and water. If soap and water is not available, alcohol, disinfectant, makeup-remover wipes, or alcohol wipes can also remove the oil. 

Apple cider vinegar can heal rashes and skin affected by poison ivy. 

FALSE - Home remedies like apple cider vinegar, baking soda, oatmeal baths, and others may relief itching or irritation, but cannot heal the reaction on their own. Home remedies should be used in combination with otc treatments like calamine, diphenhydramine, hydrocortisone, or Zanfel

Rashes from poison ivy can spread from skin-to-skin contact.

FALSE - No need to quarantine friends and family who’ve developed a reaction from a poisonous plant. Contrary to popular belief, poison ivy cannot be spread once the urushiol in the oil has been washed away. 

Dogs, cats, and livestock can’t get poison ivy, oak, or sumac.

TRUE - Most animals have fur that protects their skin from the oils of dangerous plants. Unfortunately, the oil animals collect on their fur can still be transferred to the owner’s skin. 

Herbicides like RoundUp and Weed-B-Gone can kill poisonous plants and make them less dangerous.

FALSE - While herbicides and weed killers may kill poison ivy, oak, or sumac, the urushiol in the plant oils will remain active and dangerous even after the plant is dead. 

So, how did you do? Whether you scored a perfect ten or none at all, we hope you learned something that will keep you safe next time you meet a dangerous plant.