Being Immune to Poison Ivy

A couple of summers ago, I was doing yard work and got poison Oak really bad.  It got so bad that I ended up having to go to the doctor and was put on medication for about 2 weeks.  I still have faint scars from where the poison oak was. During this time my younger brother had been bragging to me about how he was somehow immune to poison ivy.  I have heard a couple of people say how they have never gotten poison ivy so I decided to research if they were just lucky to have never become in contact with it or if it was possible to be immune.

To understand if it’s possible to be immune to poison ivy one most understand what causes the reaction.  When people have a reaction to poison ivy they are having an allergic reaction to the oil Urushiol.  Most people are allergic to Urushiol; it’s like any other allergy when you encounter it you have a reaction in this case most likely a rash.  According to Dr. David Adams a dermatologist at Penn State Hershey about a quarter of the population is immune to poison ivy.  Being allergic to Urushiol can be compared to someone who has a peanut allergy; when they come in contact with peanuts they have a reaction like hives.  The difference in Urushiol and peanuts is that a lot more people are allergic to Urushiol

It is possible for someone to not experience a reaction when they encounter Urushiol, however; this natural resistance can fade away with time (Cite).  Contrary to that it is believed that someone who has experience poison ivy can build up a resistance later in life (Cite).  This is the same way someone with a peanut allergy can become not allergic as they get older.  While researching, this I could not find an experiment on how someone is immune.

This can be compared to peanut butter allergies in the way that there is no cure for that either.  If you could find a way to completely cure allergic reactions this would have hugeImage result for poison Oak implication with all allergies like peanuts, shell fish, egg, and milk just to name a few.  There is new research that says early exposure to peanuts can lead to decrease chances of developing allergies later.  This could be a way to decrease the amount of people that are allergic, it would be
hard to test this hypothesis though.  To test this, you would have to expose infants to Urushiol at a young age possible through shots.  Poison Ivy is not life threatening even in extreme cases there are ways of controlling it after you have been infected.  This is probably a main reason why there is not research in how to prevent poison ivy all together.  The best way to prevent poison ivy is to wear long clothes and if you do come in contact with it to rinse the area with soap in water as soon as possible.




1 thought on “Being Immune to Poison Ivy

  1. Taylor M Lender

    During the summers, I am a backpacking guide, and this past summer, I worked as a leader for an adventure camp. With that being said, many of my co-workers have came into contact with poison oak and ivy. The best advice I got to help minimize the effect of poison ivy is from my former boss, Will. He said to put all the clothes you were wearing in the washing machine as soon as you get home and then use Dawn dish soap to clean your entire body in the shower. By getting clothes clean, the oil won’t transfer to anything else in the house. Dawn is more drying than normal body soap and dries out the oil faster. I agree that people working or enjoying the great outdoors should just wear long pants and long sleeves despite the heat. This will protect the skin from other dangers like UV rays, bugs, and other plants that cause irritation.

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