Poison oak looks harmless, but anyone who comes into contact with the plant can break out into an unpleasant rash that worsens as it progresses. Some people develop bumps and blisters that ooze with liquid; others may experience life-threatening reactions that require emergency treatment. The best way to prevent rashes is to learn to recognize, and avoid touching, this plant.
There are two types of poison oak: Pacific or western and Atlantic. The Pacific variety grows as far south as the Baja Peninsula and as far north as British Columbia, Canada but mainly hugs the western region of the continent. Atlantic poison oak grows in the southeastern part of the United States. Desert regions, Alaska, and Hawaii are the only places in North America where poison oak will not be found. In general, the plant grows in woodland areas where it easily blends into the landscape, but it can also grow in open fields and along roadsides.
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