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PriceisRightx26's avatar

Is poison ivy immunity hereditary?

Asked by PriceisRightx26 (1250points) May 26th, 2014

Apparently my father and his grandfather are/were both immune to poison ivy. I’m pretty sure that I am, too. So, do you speculate that there’s something gene-related perhaps, or that maybe it’s actually generally common to be immune?

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16 Answers

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Yes it is, and apparently only one in every four people has this immunity.

Coloma's avatar

I don’t know, I have heard, like all allergies, it is a matter of increased exposure, building sensitivity, until the allergic effect takes place. I never had Poison Oak until I was 18 years old, after years of exposure and now, the last few decades, living on rural properties I have had many, severe cases. I also know that the oils in Poison Oak/Ivy, remain viable for over 10 years with the leaves being sealed in a plastic bag! Nasty stuff.

Coloma's avatar

I had a vacant 20 acres of land across my tiny little private road at my old house of 7 years that I moved from in the spring of 2013.
There was this MONSTER Poison Oak bush across the road that was, I am NOT kidding like 15 feet tall and about 30 feet around. It was a freaking burning bush to the 10th power. haha
I threw a huge party one summer and taped off the entire behemoth with yellow ribbons and stakes and a giant sign that said ” WARNING POISON OAK!”

It took up about 4 parallel parking spaces and I could just see my party guests getting out of their cars and being consumed in it’s tentacles. lol
The owners of the property lived out of town and I begged them to hack that sucker down but they ignored my pleas for years.

That thing was the scariest damn thing ever! haha

Seek's avatar

Be warned: The immunity can go away, too. I was immune to poison ivy (like my father was) before I had my son. Afterward, I did some yard work and paid like hell for it.

PriceisRightx26's avatar

Thank you for the heads up!

JLeslie's avatar

Seems like it would be genetic. I have never had poison ivy. I have been in situations where I should have had it, where the people I was with got a really bad case of it. I don’t feel like testing it to make sure I actually am immune or still immune though. The closest I have come to “testing” it lately was I walked throu the same woods as my neighbor, we lived in the woods, and I never had poison ivy in over 7 years, and I still cannot recognize the plant. She would get it almost every year, sometimes three times a year, and really badly, until finally the last couple of years I think she stopped risking it so mich and stayed away from the wooded areas. As far as I know my parents have never had it either, although my dad has had fewer opportunities to catch it, so he probably doesn’t count.

Exposure can definitely lead to a reaction, so never consider yourself safe.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie My issues were from the animals, when I had a dog and sometimes the cats, and horses, that would walk through the bushes in the woods. Animals don’t get it but they carry the oils on their coats.

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma I really don’t understand why that big scary plant was allowed to live.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie’s only redeeming quality was it turned a beautiful red and yellow in the fall. lol Also…if you burn the evil bush the smoke can infect your lungs and be really serious. gah!

JLeslie's avatar

A friend of mine got poison oak very badly and eventualy developed a severe infection secondary to the poison oak. She was hospitalized, and wound up in ICU. Really really scary.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie Years ago, when I first moved up here in the foothills I had no idea that in the winter the vines lose all their leaves and I was, literally, pulling myself up a hill on a hike by P.O. vines! Then, being hot and sweaty was wiping my face and by that night I had a severe case all over my face, neck, everywhere. It was SO BAD, it looked like someone had thrown a pot of boiling water or acid in my face. I had to go to the ER for Cortisone shots and steroids and then, from the stress probably, I got a UTI on top of that!

I wanted to DIE!
I was literally walking around with kleenex stuck to my face from the weeping blisters.
Later I joked I had a natural chemical peel. lol

JLeslie's avatar

Oh Lord! Not good. I love being outside in nature, but in a screened bubble. LOL. It’s why I am excited to be back in FL and can’t wait for my screened in pool, I tried to swim two days ago in our community pool at my apartment complex and wasps kept flying ver the water and even resting on the water. I did two laps and then gave up. I was two nervous.

PriceisRightx26's avatar

While I was doing some digging pertaining to this question, I came across someone who suggested using salt water when you have one of these rashes. He said it dried up his rash within two days.

Coloma's avatar

@PriceisRightx26 Calamine lotion does the same thing, and, taking as hot a shower as you can stand is intense, but, it releases the antihistamines so you get hours of itching relief,

JLeslie's avatar

Hot shower sounds very wrong to me. Heat inflames things and opens the pores. I am just saying how it sounds, I guess it is possible it doesn’t work that way. I am no expert on poison oak or ivy since I never get it and none of my immediate family has ever had it.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie Actually, it is intensely intense, but once the oils have been washed off, the blistering responds well to rubbing with a wash cloth and hot water because it releases the histamines ( not antihistamines as I mistakenly wrote above. ) It is the most intense experience of agony and ecstacy combined, but the relief lasts for hours.

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