Watch out for Poison Oak!

With the super bloom of wildflowers upon us, many folks are hitting the trails in search of pretty wildflowers, fresh air and gorgeous mountain views. Not only are the flowers in bloom, so is the poison oak!

What is poison oak? For the who have not been conditioned from a young age to watch out for the three-leafed nuisance. This green leafed shrub or vine is known for causing a delayed rash after coming in contact with the plants oils. Also know as “toxicodendron diversilobum” or Green Pacific poison oak, this California native plant can be found everywhere in San Luis Obispo, including on campus at Cal Poly. Many students might even encounter poison oak on their way to class. Check out for more information about where to spot or avoid poison oak on campus.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, many people who come in contact with poison oak will get a red blistery rash that appears about 12 – 72 hours after contact. “The rash is not contagious and does not spread. It might seem to spread, but this is a delayed reaction”. Most people will see the rash go away within a few weeks, however, if there is sign of swelling, trouble breathing or swallowing seek medical attention immediately.

If you believe you have come in contact with poison oak, follow these quick tips:

  • Shower in lukewarm water with mild soap.
  • Wash all clothes or discard clothes. Oils can stay on clothes, which can lead to another rash.
  • If you develop a rash, treat with cortisone cream or calamine lotion to ease itching.
  • See a doctor if symptoms do not improve with 10 days.

Tips for avoiding poison oak:

  • Stick to the trails.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants (helps protect against ticks and other elements).

Looking for some fun local hikes?

Happy hiking! Be safe and follow for more information about your health and wellbeing at Cal Poly!

Bloom where
you are planted

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