Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Ask Buck

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?

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

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.