Tecnu is an over-the-counter skin cleanser manufactured by Tec Labs, a pharmaceutical company based in Albany, Oregon. It is intended for use by humans and furry pets after topical exposure to urushiol, the active ingredient in poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac. Tecnu is made from deodorized mineral spirits, water, propylene glycol, octylphenoxy-polythoxethanol, mixed fatty acid soap, and fragrance.
The cleanser was invented by former Mead Johnson executive and chemist Dr. Robert Smith during the early 1960s. Tecnu, for "Technically New," was intended to remove radioactive fallout dust from skin. Several years later, his wife discovered another use for the cleanser. After an exposure to poison oak, she washed with Tecnu and did not get urushiol-induced contact dermatitis.
In 1977 the company began to market Tecnu to foresters, firefighters, surveyors, and utility crews. Tecnu's effectiveness for postexposure treatment has been confirmed in a nonrandomized study. In this study, the authors concluded "Our study showed 70%, 61.8%, and 56.4% protection with Tecnu, Goop, and Dial, respectively, when compared to the positive control, or to the possible maximum response, with a cost per ounce (in a local drug and automotive store) of $1.25, $0.07, and $0.07, respectively, for a decrease in protection that is nonsignificant." A survey article is also available.
- Tec Labs Official Website
- Steve Smith, “My Oregon Story” 
- Tim Christie, "Got Poison Oak? You Can Fight Back," The Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, July 7, 2004. Accessed June 3, 2008 
- Adam S. Stibich, Mark Yagan, Vidya Sharma, Betty Herndon, Christopher Montgomery, "Cost-effective post-exposure prevention of poison ivy dermatitis", Intl. J. of Dermatology: Vol. 39, No. 7, July 2000, pp. 515–518 
- Gladman AC. (2006). "Toxicodendron dermatitis: poison ivy, oak, and sumac" Wilderness and Environmental Medicine 17(2):120–128.
- Product description from Tec Labs
- Karen Neill, “Poison ivy is at its peak in spring and summertime,” The News and Record, Piedmont Triad, North Carolina, May 10, 2008
- Anne Raver, "Tending the Gardener," The New York Times Magazine, June 21, 1992
- Anne Raver, "Watering Grass," The New York Times, July 14, 1991
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