How to Prevent a Poison Ivy Rash, According to an Expert

Poison Ivy Leaves
 Phil Schermeister/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

EACH SUMMER, a wildly popular YouTube video titled “How to Never Have a Serious Poison Ivy Rash Again” makes the rounds online.

In it, a retired scientist explains how vigorously cleaning your skin with soap and a washcloth after possible contact with the weed will remove the rash-causing urushiol compound, thus sparing you much agony.

 

Well, let us save you a click: There’s no silver bullet for the pesky plant.

According to dermatologist Anthony Rossi of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, washing your body with soap after possible contact can mitigate the spread of poison ivy—at least to a degree. But that’s seldom enough, given the extreme difficulty of removing urushiol.

If you’re serious about avoiding a rash, he advises wearing long sleeves, pants, and high socks when in the woods, and refraining from wiping or touching your eyes, then washing your clothes immediately upon returning home.

This article is part of our Summer School series, a comprehensive guide to acing the year’s best season.