Itching To Get Out On San Diego Trails? Look Out For More Poison Oak

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"Leaves of three, let it be." Have you heard that before? It's about the leaves of a poison oak plant; experts say you could see more of it because of all the winter rain.

There are so many trails to enjoy across San Diego County. That's precisely what Elka Pita was doing Wednesday morning with her friends at Lake Poway.

"Today I’m off, so this is hiking day," she said.

She loves to take in the scenery and get fresh air.

”I usually walk in the middle of the pathway," Pita added. "I try to stay away from the plants.”

She keeps her distance to avoid what medical professionals say could be much more prevalent thanks to the recent rain - poison oak.

Stefanie Maio with the San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club said there's a lot of overgrowth this year.

"So if there’s a creek nearby, or a river, or a pond, poison oak tends to be in those areas," Maio said.

Dr. Rais Vohra with California Poison Control System said when you see it, you'll know.

”Glossy green leaves that might turn to red or crimson," Vohra said. ”Triplocet leaves that are kind of found in a shrub or more of a bush pattern.”

You'll feel it 24 to 48 hours after the oils from the plant or stem touch your skin. Vohra said 85% of people are allergic to the plant. An anti-itch cream might help, but medical experts say if you need to, consult your doctor.

”Those oils can kind of work their way under the surface of the skin very easily," Vohra said. "Unfortunately if we scratch other parts of our body we’re helping to introduce those oils to other parts of the body.”

So here's what to keep in mind before hitting the trails. Wear long sleeves and pants, stay in the middle of the trail, and know what to do if you come in contact with it.

”Washing off the oils with cold water, if you have access to soap, soap." Maio said.

Maio and Vohra also want to remind hikers who take their pets on the trails to wash them off with cold water and soap too, should they run through or brush up against poison oak. Both say the oils from the plant can easily transfer from the dog to a person upon contact.

But, don't let this keep you from getting outside.

"Just keep an eye out," Maid said. "If you stay to the center of the trail, chances are, you’re not going to encounter poison oak.

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