It’s been a couple months since most of you campers were here, and we thought it would be a good idea to give you a little refresher! You all remember how a guide would point to poison oak and call it back, unfortunately, there is not a guide with you when you go on adventures with just your family or friends. This means that you need to know what poison oak looks like and what to do in case you are exposed to it.

How to Spot it:

Typically poison oak has three leaves, the known saying being “Leaves of three, leave them be” however they can occasionally have more leaves. Most people think that it is something you only see on the ground, but it can grow as a vine. There isn’t necessarily a set color to look for with poison oak. It can come as green, yellow, or red/orange, and resembles the oak leaf. The most important thing to do when unsure if a plant is poison oak or not, is to not touch it.

How to Prevent Spreading It:

The thing about poison oak is that the leaf itself is not harmful, it is the oil it produces. Oil can spread incredibly fast and if you don’t know you have it on you then you could spread it to someone else. One of the best ways to get rid of the oil is to wash your clothes and hands. It’s important to be careful what you drag around when you walk.  When on an adventure use sand or moss in the river and scrub wherever you may have been exposed.  When you get home make sure to wash everything you had on you.

How to Treat It:  

It sometimes takes a few days before a rash may or may not appear.  About 70 percent of the time, a person exposed, will react to it.  When and if it does appear, there are multiple products made specifically for poison oak rashes that you can find at some of your local pharmacy stores.

Recent studies have shown that the climate change is in fact making poison oak stronger and larger.  The combination of the plant’s nature tendency to cause more harsh reactions over time and the increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the air that encourage the plants to grow more.  For more information, check out CNN’s article