Can scratching spread the rash?

Poison ivy rashes are unpleasant. They have symptoms that are both painful and irritating. One of the most irritating symptoms of a poison ivy rash is the constant itch. While scratching may provide temporary relief, it can leave skin more irritated and inflamed, as well as opening the skin up to developing other infections. If you have contracted a poison ivy rash, you are probably concerned about the impacts of the constant itching. Does scratching spread poison ivy? Can I spread it to other people?

Does Scratching Spread Poison Ivy?

One of the first symptoms of a poison ivy rash is the itchiness. You start scratching an area, and it seems like the affected area is spreading. While you may assume this is because your fingernails must be spreading the oil around, it is often because the affected area was already infected with the oils and your body is gradually becoming aware of the toxin. While scratching does necessarily spread poison ivy to other parts of the body or make the affected area bigger, there may be residual oils from the plant still present on the skin. If you come in contact with poison ivy, you should promptly wash the affected area with soap and warm water even if symptoms have already started to help prevent the oils spreading to other parts of the body. 

Can I Spread Poison Ivy to Others?

The simple answer is no. Your rash cannot be spread to others even when it is red, itchy, and has blisters. Poison ivy rashes are not contagious. However, if you have oils still on your skin or clothing and another person comes in contact with the oils you can spread the rash that way. The oil can remain potent for years which is why clothing should be washed after any suspected encounter with poison ivy. It is best to avoid contact with another person’s poison ivy rash initially because oils may still be present, but once the area has been thoroughly washed, there is no threat of spreading the rash to others. 

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