Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Information Center

Technu - Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac Treatment

Signs of an Emergency
About 15 percent of the 120 million Americans who are allergic to poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac are so highly sensitive that they break out in a rash and begin to swell in 4 to 12 hours instead of the normal 24 to 48. Their eyes may swell shut and blisters may erupt on their skin. This is one of the few true emergencies in dermatolgy says William L. Epstein, MD. Get to a hosipital as soon as possible. A shot of corticosteroids will bring the swelling down.
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Tecnu Label Warning: KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. For external use only. Should not be applied to raw, ooozing areas of skin. Do not use this product for at least 3 days after using hydrocortisone ointments on the affected area. May irritate sensitive skin. If redness, irriation or itching increases or if infection occurs, discontinue use and consult a physician. Keep out of eyes and other mucous membranes.


We bought an older home and had to clear out some brush around the foundation. I picked up some Poison Ivy, but didn't "discover" it till later that evening. I couldn't sleep for 2 days,... itching, etc... I tried Hydrocortozone and lot's of warm showers and soap, but the cure came when a neighbor lady suggested Tech Nu... it's a lotion you can get a most drugstores that you put one, let it set for 5 minutes or so and wash it off. It breaks up the oil from the poison ivy and allows it to wash away. The sores dry up, the itch goes away and it let's you heal and sleep with out any itch. It's a real God send. I've used it for the last ten years, and have even had it recommended by the Utilities ( Phone, Electric ) Guys who have to crawl into peoples bushes to install and read meters. It's the Best for poison ivy and poison oak. It costs about $10.00 a bottle, but it's the best ten dollars you'll ever spend. Just ask your local pharmacist. Chuck Peterka, Exton PA ( [email protected])
[email protected] submitted 4/Jun/2001

I have the Sumac virus. At least that is what I am told. Once you get it, it will never go away. I am sensitive to almost anything green, including Christmas trees. I pick it up from my cats and clothing my husband was wearing when working in the yard. I can feel my skin breaking out within hours of being exposed. I blister and ooze, it is not a pretty site. I once had it so bad on my arms I wore athletic socks on my arms to absorb the oozing so it wouldn't run down my arms. I have found the perfect product. It is called Technu. It is a wash. I use it anytime I think I might have been exposed. Which is almost everyday in the spring and summer. It really work. If I do start to breakout I wash the area about four or five times a day and it stops the breakout completely. There is also a product by the same company that can be worn to product against exposure. I have had a very hard time finding it.
--"Nowak, Bonnie" ([email protected]) submitted 13/Jun/2001

We just got back from a hike where there was tons of Poison Oak. Only a few of us got it, but one things for sure, if you catch it early, TecNu works VERY well! My 5 year old got the first signs of a rash within about 8 hours, as soon as we saw it, I washed/SHOWERED him several times him per the directions. It worked, the next day it had already started to go! Only problem is, I think it only works if you catch it early. Next time we're going to shower with it, even if there is no sign.
--Jon Correll ([email protected]) submitted 5/Jul/2001
Editor: I had the same results. I also swear by Tecnu but it would only work for me if I washed my skin before the oil really bonded. From others on this website, I have since learned that any of the recommended soap remedies have given me similar results. Of course I can be a little cavalier about all this because I have zanfel to bail me out if the rash becomes very bad or a swimming pool :-)

I would like to recommend Tecnu for treatment of poison ivy/oak. We have used this successfully on rashes. It comes as a clear liquid that will virtually eliminate progression of the rash if applied as soon as you think you have been exposed to the plant. The only place I have been able to find this product is at my local nursery.
-- Anonymous ([email protected]) Jul/19/1999
Editor note: I have also had some success with this product. Their URL is listed on the products page. It is also very good for removing paint resins from the skin. See the bottom of the following link for a description of how and why it works and other fun facts like it was initially developed to remove radioactive fallout dust.

I currently have Poison Ivy and am searching for a remedy. Right now I am using Tecnu and it seems to be working. Tecnu has a couple products. I am using the cleanser and the solution. The cleanser is applied first to "clean" the area, wheras the solution is used to combat the poison ivy. I found Tecnu at the local CVS drugstore.
-- Charles Rifenberg([email protected]) Mar/27/2000

I have been a "poison ivy " person for every summer except for those spent in Europe. It is like a regular thing for me to have a case of poison ivy, now every June. At this point, I am hypersensitive to it, petting the family cats, or neighbors' dogs, invites a lovely set of blisters if I don't wash right away (missing a spot is always visable later). I have been using Tecnu recently and it does seem to work. I have also used regular laundry soap, and also Dawn detergent to wash right away. This seems to help with eliminating the oils from the poison ivy. I have had pills (Cortisone) for three previous summers and to be honest, last summer they seemed to really barely work. The Cortisone cream also had minimal effect and though it was a prescription, I might as well bought the over the counter type. I might add that all the treaments, creams, etc. need to be very fresh. Though the Tecnu worked well at first, this bottle is a last year's supply and its effectiveness is wearing off. I have read the comments of others about a shot to prevent poison ivy reactions and I am very tempted. Getting it on your face, as well as other places, is such a drag. But indeed, the cure, as described seems worse than the ivy. Perhaps some eager student in genetics will invent a cure since there seem to be some who are not affected by this.
--Elise Beaulieu ([email protected]) submitted 26/Jun/2000

I've tried tecnu and feel it is a worthwhile product. Also when I get the blisters I take a cutting of aloe vera and apply the juice to the blisters the I take powdered blue green algea (harvested from klamath lake} and sprinkle it atop the aloe vera juice. I gently apply pressure with a teaspoon pushing the powder into the aloe juice. This makes a mud pack type of affair which dries out the blisters. It is unsightly however but it is worth the relief. Seems also to lessen the itch. Still it takes time to get rid of it. Note also it is difficult to get the algea mud pack off as it dries hard like clay.
--Steve Cummings ([email protected]) submitted 14/Jan/2001

Here is something that has worked for me. I picked up this nasty stuff two weeks ago. It didn't start itching until almost a week after exposure so it spread it everywhere; my feet, arms, legs, and hips were all afflicted by it. I tried an over-the-counter treatment Ivarest which provided some relief but was goopy and lasted only about 6 hours. After several days of this, I wasn't getting any better. Taking a cue from other poor sufferers on this website, I concluded that I still had some of that nasty oil on my skin since it still itched like crazy. Even though I had washed several times with hot soap and water, I was convinced that some of it remained. I picked up a tube of Technu at the store and followed the directions, rubbing it in well and washing with cool water. Then I applied it again and washed it with hot water. Then, following the advice of some of your readers, I took the hot water treatment. I have a shower head that is on a hose and can be taken down. I used that thing to blast all the affected areas with water as hot as I could stand for about 5 minutes. It hurt!! It hurt like ____! (Very hot water and sensitive, damaged skin is not a fun combination) But it worked! I slept last night without itching and without goop. This morning I repeated the process and I am back at work and feel much better! Why does it work? I don't know. Some readers have suggested that the hot water releases the histamines and that is why the itching stops. I don't know if it is true or not. I think that getting the skin cleansed well and getting that nasty oil off the skin is what does it. That might explain why some people have had success with hot water, swimming in a chlorinated pool or the ocean, washing with Dawn dishwashing detergent undiluted, washing with a water and chlorine solution, etc. I am convinced that until you get the oil off your skin (and it appears to be very hard to remove), no treatment will be effective. However you do that is up to you. I would be very careful not to do anything that could permanently damage your skin. I am not a doctor but I can tell you that this treatment worked for me.
--"Rosa, Martin" ([email protected]) submitted 24/Aug/2001
Editor: I agree with you. Until that oil is gone the body continues to attack and we have our rash, itching, and oozing. This is the premise of how products like Zanfel and Tecnu work I am told. Water and plenty of it is is most likely the basis for all these cures :)

I get poison ivy, oak, etc. simply by the molecules in the air. My doctor told me I was in the 95+% of extremely contagious people. I've had it internally, in my blood and externally. Someone recomended Tech-Nu or Tecnu (I don't know the correct spelling). Recently I have used the clay-based Ivy Block along with Fells-Naptha soap (it is one of the few remaining soaps with lye in it. Although it's not 100% these have helped. I'm always looking for something better.
[email protected] submitted 25/Aug/2001

I just came across your wonderful site! I love all the information that you have. I was looking for pictures of poison oak that I could print for a safety presentation I'm going to give. I also saw that you wanted feedback. I'd love to give feedback on one of the products listed on your site. I have used Tecnu regularly for about 10 years. I am the safety manager at my company and we have used Tecnu there for about 5 years. It is a truly great and effective product. My cases of workers' lost time due to poison oak have dropped dramatically since we started using Tecnu when I came here in '95. Twice each year I have training sessions that focus on outdoor protection with the workers that are out in the field during the warmer months. To me the key has been educating the workers. I find that if I explain why they're getting the rash, then I can get them to be pro-active and use Tecnu. Thanks again for a great site. I can't believe I've never come across !it before.
--"Kevin Alexander" ([email protected]) submitted 5/Feb/2002
Editor: Thank You. Its hard sometimes to get the search engines to notice us with all the sites.

I was recently infected with poison oak and was advised by a friend to use Tecnu products to "get rid of the oils and stop the rash from spreading". The Tecnu product does nothing to someone who already has the rash, contrary to the label's description. All the information I could gather, including that on this site, said that the only cause of the rash was contact with the oils. Once the rash forms, the oils have done their work, and the Tecnu will do nothing but waste your money. I would strongly advise against anyone using that product, as soap and water do the same job.
--"Lisa" ([email protected]) submitted 20/Mar/2002

I am allergic to poison ivy to the point where I can get it and it spreads like wildfire. I got it so bad a couple of years ago that I missed a week and half of school. My uncle who is a landscaper by trade told me to use Technu (you can get it at cvs or most other drug stores). You just follow the instructions and it works great. I was doing everything possible to get rid of the stuff for a week or so, two days of Technu and the ivy was gone. This can be used before hand if you know you are going to be around poison ivy and it will help avoid it. Gets rid of the oils to help heal faster.
--"David Greeley" ([email protected]) submitted 12/Jun/2002

I have used Tecnu for more than 10 years - ever since I had a blazing case of poison ivy. I have found it quite effective, especially if I spread it on liberally wherever I may have been exposed and just let it dry. If I am pretty sure I contacted the weed, I usually make a second application after the first dries. I tried Tecnu vs Cortisone cream on alternate arms after a recent case, and found them equally effective at reducing the redness and itching after the exposure. Avoidance is best, but sometimes you don't know about the poison ivy until after you have touched it. Jacques Memphis, tn
--"Jacques Morrise" ([email protected]) submitted 9/Jul/2002

I had to write to confrim what I've read about this product, Tecnu is a miracle cure :). Prio rto 4 years agao I never had poison Ivy/Oak. In the last 4 years I've been infected 1-2 times a year. (I have to garden). I reacted so severely I just called the Dr and got an "over the phone" perscription for steriods. Taking them so often made me a bit uncomfortable. This time clearing out the yard before palnts started growing I unknowingly was again exposed to this "nasty" plant. I reluctantly decided to give Tecnu a try. I started reacting to the posion Ivy by 3:00am the next morning. Started using Tecnu that afternoon and it's rapidly clearing up. It's amazing. Thank you so much for the advise. I've shared this news with eveyone I know.
--"Brenda" ([email protected]) submitted 10/Apr/2003

Hi, I just found your site and think it's wonderful! Thank you for putting all this info out there. I have a suggestion about treatment. I have been plagued with poison ivey, oak, and sumac all my live (23 yrs). I get the ivy the most commanly though. I am one of thoes rare people you talk about thet will break out in just a few hours and very often get it without actually going near the plant itself through secondary touch or the air. I have probley tried everything on the market for it! I have been to the doc and had the shots and have been on drugs. I have been hospitilised because the rash did not "break out" in blisters as it should. Instead it stayed under the skin which is really painful! We couldn't even tell it was poison ivy. The doc's went from strep to an allirgec reaction to an asprin med before guessing ivy! Both my eyes have swollen shut and have been unable to eat. Anyway... The thing I have found best is rotation, rotation, rotation! My body will get used to a med and then it won't work, so I try to use something differant every time or a differant pattern of using something. I will take benidryl (sp?) when it gets really bad but it makes me very sleepy sometimes. I like the Technu stuff the best. The clear gel that you put on after the blisters breakout takes a while to dry but it does help for a while. The oatmeal baths and creams work pretty good but dosent last as long. I will usually wrap really bad oozing spots (like the one on my arm right now) at night so I dont get the stuff everywhere. Well, To wrap this long winded speach up, Basicly, I have found everything works at least a little and at least a little is better then nothing! Willa Scharch (Who currently has poison ivy on both arms, right hand, in and behind her right ear, and on the side of her head.)
--"Willa Scharch" ([email protected]) submitted 19/May/2003

I found some news on your site, but I found only one offhand mention of Tecnu. I have used Tec Laboratories Oak-N-Ivy cleanser. It is especially helpful if I use it quickly, if I think I have been exposed or when I first start to itch. It helps, later, but not as much. You can't use it near your eyes, either [ contains mineral spirits ]. I can find it at chain and other pharmacies - it's available over-the-counter. They also have a cute help number: 1-800-itching. They warn you not to use Tecnu after corticosteroid ointments, though. They have a newer product I haven't tried yet without that conflict. Their web address is below. Thanks.
--"Greg Stagaman" ([email protected]) submitted 27/May/2003
Editor: Be assured that tecnu is listed all over this site and is recommended by many folks. It even has its own page. The tecnu marketing folks are also very good at keeping their links up to date and notifying us of new products.
I used Tecnu for many years until it failed to work after washing with it and most of two bottles of the cleaner over 3 days. That rash became so bad that nothing would help control the itch longer term until I looked for other treatments and found Zanfel which was very new in 1999. I have used all tecnu's products over the years and especially during this very bad rash liked the other products corticool and and calagel They both provided great temporary relief of my itching but not more so than some of the other remedies from the viewers treatment section now that I have tried more things.
On the not to be repeated or recommended section :-), I have done a test where I used dawn dish washing soap and water, rubbing alcohol and tencu on different spots very quickly after uruhsiol exposure. All worked Great and I didn't have any rash on any of the three spots! But as you mention, tecnu works best if used very quickly before the oil binds to the skin. I have to admit that I got the idea myself from reading this research paper which demystified the plant and causes of rash... Plus I had zanfel in case it didn't work. But I was still shaking as I performed the test.

I am a 52 year old, very active female. I have suffered from poison ivy and poison oak every year since I was a child. 9 years ago I started a lawn mowing service, and I am also an avid camper.. I discovered that there is not a single lawn or area of vegetation in Indiana that does not have poison ivy, oak, or sumac. I have also tried to educate myself in preventing the rashes, and stopping them. I have never completely prevented them, because of my constant contact with the plants.

Technu works!!! It has helped me tremendously. However------ The main thing I would like people to know is that the plant is not the only enemy. The oil from these plants lasts forever. They have found active poison ivy oil on dead plants in the pyramids in Egypt. This stuff is on your shoes, clothing, door knobs, gardening tools, steering wheels, carpets, floors, etc. If you have touched or walked on anything after touching or walking on the plant or anything that has the oil on it, you will spread the oil around. That is why we keep breaking out, even when we wash our skin several times. If you have used Technu and you are still breaking out, think about what you are handling that could still have the poison oil on it. You must clean everything with a good degreaser!!!!! You don't necessarily have to use Technu on everything - the average person cannot afford it. But use the Technu on your own skin - several times if necessary. Wash everything else with a good strong cleaner. It will work if you get rid of the possibility of further contact with the oil.

By the way, does anyone know how to clean a laptop computer for poison ivy oil. That is the only thing I am afraid to clean with Technu or other strong cleaners. Don't laugh - I'm serious!!!

Also!!!!! Hey, you researchers - can't you develop something that will detect the poison oils on stuff. If I could spray something on my equipment, steering wheels, shoes, etc. that would identify the location of the contaminating oil I could stay poison ivy free and you could make billions!!!!! I would pay big bucks for it!!!!
--"Carol" ([email protected]) submitted 22/July/2003
Editor: I've used rubbing alcohol on cotton swabs or cotton balls to clean off keyboards. Used this for years with no problems. Rubbing alcohol is a pretty good solvent and will help remove any urushiol oil, if any, on the keyboard. Also does a fine job of removing yesterday's lunch :-)