Good Advice, But NOT the Whole Story

Jim Brauker poison ivy video

This fellow, Jim Brauker, is very wise about many aspects of nature, including how to deal with poison ivy. As both a serious scientist and a deer hunting expert, anything he says about poison ivy is worth listening to, or in this case, watching.

I think his advice is good, but I also think that he is leaving out some very important facts that could cause a person a great deal of misery.

Watch the video, but also READ WHAT I SAY below it, because although I value his advice, I think his basic idea that you can just ignore the plant and wash off carefully when you get home, hours later, is asking for trouble, big time.

Here is what I agree with:
He shows a good, thorough way of washing off the invisible oil.

Here are the BIG things I think he misses:
1. Most authorities say that that the oil can penetrate your skin in 30 minutes, but he says you have 3 to 4 hours to wash it off. I am sure that if you get a lot of oil on your skin, depending on whether it is thick skin (finger callouses) or thin skin (face) it can penetrate in 30 minutes. So I don't buy the idea that you can ignore poison ivy and then just wash it off hours later.

2. If you scratch open your skin and  get the oil into the cuts it will penetrate almost right away, so washing hours later won't save you. (William Bartlett, who clears out poison ivy by hand, all day, every day, tells me he only gets the rash when he gets an open cut or scratch.)

3. If you get poison ivy oil on your fingers and rub your eyes or other delicate areas (use your imagination) you can rub the oil right into the skin. Hours later it may well be too late and too difficult to wash the oil off your eyes or those other delicate areas.

I think ignoring the plant and then washing later is just not the right way to avoid the rash.

I think recognizing the plant and avoiding contact is the only sensible way to go. Hence this site, largely dedicated to teaching people how to recognize the plant. However, on occasion I have HAD TO push my way through a poison ivy patch, and having done that I would follow Jim's advice, but not wait hours: I would wash absolutely as soon as possible.