Is everyone allergic to Poison ivy?

Millions of people find poison ivy plants a very annoying part of their lives, but do you know what is about poison ivy that causes such extreme reactions for so many people? And more importantly, is there anything that makes some people less sensitive than others to these contact allergens from poison ivy?

Medium of Infection

People can come into contact with Poison ivy after touching the leaves, stem, or roots of the plant. These parts of the plant contain urushiol, a colorless and odorless fluid that can cause reactions to the skin. Since most people are allergic to this fluid, everyone ends up getting skin allergies from Poison ivy. Some people who are immune to allergies, might not get a rash immediately, but can get it later. Our body’s way of dealing with allergies keeps changing.

Is everyone allergic to Poison Ivy?

It usually depends on the tolerance level of the person. Our bodies grow over time so are their way of dealing with allergies. Some people might not react after coming into contact with Poison ivy. On the other hand, some people can be pretty sensitive to urushiol.

  • It is estimate that about 70 percent of the population is allergic to Poison Ivy and will have some form of reaction to the plant.
  • The level of the reaction you have to an exposure to the Urushiol Oil will depend on numerous factors like the amount of oil that came in contact with your skin, the body’s immunity etc.
  • Each person reacts differently to an exposure to Poison Ivy. Some only develop mild rashes while others can have severe reactions resulting in blisters.
  • Some lucky few do not have any reaction to Poison Ivy. But note that merely toughing the Poison Ivy plant will not cause any allergy. It is only if you come in contact with the oil that a broken leaf from the plant or the stem oozes that a reaction will occur.
Image Src: MitchellhobbsCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How do I know I am allergic to Poison ivy?

It is impossible to predict if someone is allergic to Poison Ivy or immune to it. The only way to know for sure is to get exposed to to the oil and experience ones reaction to it.

But keep in mind that our bodies keep changing with time, so if a person does not get a rash for the first time coming in contact with Poison ivy, he might get an allergic reaction another time.


If you’re part of the majority who are sensitive to these plants, you’re probably well aware of how unpleasant it can be. It is best to be safe and keep your distance and follow the ‘Leaves of Three, Let it be’ rule.

Check if Poison Ivy is contagious after a shower.