ZocdocAnswersIs poison ivy contagious from one person to another?

Question

Is poison ivy contagious from one person to another?

My roommate has poison ivy. He says that it can?t go from one person to another. Is this true? Shouldn?t he see a doctor about making it go away? Should I be worried I will get it too?

Answer

Poison ivy is a plant that contains an oil which has the ability to stimulate an allergic reaction in many people. This oil can activate the immune system to cause inflammation in the skin which turns it red and itchy. The oil itself is long gone by the time the rash appears. However, there is a chance that it could be spread from skin to skin if there is contact within minutes to hours after the effected person is exposed. If your roommate has the poison ivy rash, he was likely exposed days before. If this is the case, the oil would have been washed off or rubbed off preventing any transmission to you. Thus, I don't think you should be worried. If he has clothes he was wearing at the time that have not been washed, they may be able to spread the oil to you if you wear those clothes. The answer to your second question is yes, he should see a doctor about the poison ivy if he wants the rash to get better faster. Oral or topical steroids are used to calm down the inflammation. The type of doctor he should see if his primary care physician who can write those prescriptions.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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