What does poison ivy look like when it first starts?

A man applying Tecnu anti-itch spray on his arm.

While walking through the woods with your friends, one of them warned you that there might be poison ivy in your path. You checked, and it looks like you’ve already walked through quite a bit. You rushed to your backpack, took out the Tecnu Detox Wipes you brought just in case, and wiped every part of your body as much as possible. You did everything you could for now, but you’re left to wonder if you will develop poison ivy rash and how it will start.

How long does it take to develop a rash?

Urushiol, the oil found in poison ivy that causes the rash, is very potent. But it often takes time for the rash to develop, typically 24-48 hours for most people. In some cases, if the exposed person has never had poison ivy rash, it could take up to 10 days. Regardless of how long it takes, people exposed to urushiol will experience the following:

  • Itching - The exposed skin will start to itch intensely.
  • Rash - You will develop a red rash and blisters shortly after the itching.
  • Oozing - Most of the time, the blisters pop, and liquid comes out.

There are also cases where the rash will look different from usual. These cases range from person to person and the manner they were exposed to the plant.

  1. Regular rash - The most common way the rash develops is as itchy red bumps on the skin.
  2. Streaks - The rash can develop as streaks if the plant has lightly grazed or brushed the skin.
  3. Black spots - Sometimes, black spots could form instead of the usual red rash. This type of poison ivy reaction is caused by highly oxidized urushiol exposed to warm and humid conditions.

These rashes can develop when you come in contact with the oil from the plant, but you can also develop a rash if you touch items like tools, clothing, or surfaces exposed to the oil.

Treating poison ivy rash

If you suspect you were exposed to the toxic plant, it would be best to prepare to treat the rash. Over-the-counter topical treatments like Tecnu Calagel or Rash Relief Spray are the go-to itch-relief solution for poison ivy rashes. In most cases, after the blisters start to ooze, they dry and heal within 2-3 weeks.

For Next Time

Once exposed to poison ivy, the severity of your rash depends on how fast you act. Cleaning the exposed area with products like our Tecnu Detox Wipes will remove the plant’s oils, reducing the amount absorbed by your skin. From there, it is a matter of treating the symptoms and keeping your rash clean, avoiding scratching it to lessen the time needed in healing. Poison ivy rashes often look like any bad rash, so you must treat it as such with care and proper treatment.

Tec Labs is the number one producer of options to specifically target the removal of urushiol and the treatment of poison ivy and oak rashes.