Large number of poison oak plants growing on Central Coast

Large number of poison oak plants...

CARMEL, Calif. - The Central Coast is waking up from a very wet winter to a lot more poison oak.

Several parks said the rain likely caused this growth spurt, posing a risk to unsuspecting hikers.

"I can see how that could be a factor in the abundance of poison oak that we have. But here at Point Lobos, we do very little as far as taking away the poison oak and interacting with it," said Savannah Gonzalez, senior park aide at Point Lobos.

Hiker Kim Lovell said she has had to deal with poison oak more than once.

"It's scary stuff. When you get it, you don't ever want to get it again," Lovell said. "It makes a rash, then the rash turns into blisters and it itches really bad, and the blisters ooze."

Lovell knows the plant so well that she can spbot it out of a bush where the leaves look very similar to uneducated eye.

"I have poison oak radar. I just don't touch it at all. I keep a really keen eye out so I don't touch it," Lovell said.

Point Lobos officials are also spreading the message: Keep your hands to yourself this summer.

"We do have poison oak here year round, but it kind of springs up around the summer. And that's when people are going out on trails so we try and do a lot of education around this time of year," Gonzalez said.

Here are some tips of how you can treat it.

"It can take up to 12 hours for your skin to show signs of a reaction. So if you think you've come in contact with poison oak, just do your best to wash the area, wash any clothes that were affected and above all, just stay on (the) trail and follow the rules," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez also teaches kids this saying, "If it's hairy, it's berry. Leaf of three, let it be.”

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