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Hand Sanitizer Help?

How soon after exposure to poison ivy do I need to wash my skin? If I apply an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after contact with poison ivy, will it reduce my reaction, or stop it altogether?

Question:

How soon after exposure to poison ivy do I need to wash my skin? If I apply an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after contact with poison ivy, will it reduce my reaction, or stop it altogether?

Submitted by - Pete, Minneapolis, MN

Answer:

The oily resin, urushiol, in poison ivy, oak and sumac can be washed off, preventing a reaction, if you wash soon enough. The recommended agents are a soft soap and cold water (because that combo removes oil better). How soon you need to wash depends on your skin’s susceptibility. It varies¬óbut the sooner, certainly the better. As far as I know, hand sanitizers have never been tested for their ability to remove urushiol. I don’t think a hand sanitizer would work used as directed: splash it on and rub it in. But if you used a lot of it and rinsed it off soon after splashing it on, it might remove enough oil to prevent a reaction. But I’m only guessing.

1 Comment

  1. Ranger Bill

    Wash, wash, wash! I’m in the stuff all the time and I usually can wash to where no outbreak occurs. Cool water, dish soap and cheap shampoo all work.
    I wouldn’t much like to put bleach on my skin.

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