Horrifying photos show burns caused by hogweed ‘that’s thriving in hot weather’
- 28 May 2020, 14:33
- Updated : 28 May 2020, 16:31
THESE terrifying photos show the damage the UK’s “most dangerous plant” can do – causing agonising burns and blisters.
Britain is set to bake in 28C weather this week and experts say the soaring temperatures over the last month have meant that hogweed plants are flowering weeks earlier than usual.
Keith Gallacher, director of Complete Weed Control specialists, told The Daily Star: “We are seeing some plants that are already one metre high because the temperature is ripe for it.
“Each plant can have around 50,000 seeds which can spread extremely fast if not treated and the toxic sap is a hazard.”
Photos from those who have already come into contact with the plant show huge blisters and red skin.
Mr Gallacher , 33, added that the sap of the plant is “very dangerous” and said it can “strip your skin of UV coating”.
This means that when the light hits the areas the saps have touched it will cause your skin to blister.
These blister can leave scars on those affected.
Why does giant hogweed cause rashes, burns and blisters?
The sap giant hogweed contains is toxic and contains chemicals known as furanocoumarins.
When these come into contact with the skin, and the flesh then comes into contact with UV light, these chemicals lead to a condition called phyto-photodermatitis – a red rash, often followed by severe blistering within 24 hours.
The resulting burns can last for several months and, even once they’ve gone, skin can remain sensitive to sunlight for years to come.
Children are believed to be particularly vulnerable to the impacts from the plants – with several being hospitalised with injuries.
What do I do if I touch hogweed?
If you come into contact with giant hogweed, the NHS advises covering the affected area and washing it with soap and water.
If you begin to feel unwell after contact with giant hogweed, you should speak to your doctor.
The sap reacts with the melanin in your skin and removes any protection that patch has from UV light.
If the hairs of the giant hogweed plant or its sap come into contact with your eyes they can even cause blindness.
Giant hogweed stems have fine needle like hairs that will cause extreme irritation.
Toxins in the sap bind with DNA in skin cells, causing them to die and form huge burns and blisters.
The firm added that the problem has been more pronounced in Scotland due to the severity in temperature change.
Scotland usually sees cooler temperatures than the rest of the country but the unusually sunny weather has meant a spike in hogweed across the region.
The managing director of the firm Ian Graham added that it is an “extremely dangerous plant” and said it can cause “blindness and permanent scarring”
He warned that the plant tends to grow where children play.
Earlier this month a worried mother warned other parents about the dangers of the plant after her three-month-old was left with injuries.
Claire Hardwick gave the warning after baby Lottie suffered the painful injuries when her other daughter Lexi, 8, put the poisonous plant in her buggy as a “pretty flower” gift on May 16.
Within less than 24 hours, the youngster was covered in “red raw” welts her parents initially thought were sunburn and she was rushed to A&E, where she spent a night before being transferred to a specialist burns unit at a children’s hospital nearly 60 miles away.
The stay-at-home mum, 29, said: “This plant looks so pretty, but it is lethal.
“Please, do not let your kids pick it.
“I did not have a clue a plant could do that to your skin, and such a nice-looking plant as well – who would have thought it could be so dangerous?
“I felt so guilty when I realised what had caused Lottie’s burns – it’s every mum’s worst nightmare.”
Horrifying photos show burns caused by hogweed ‘that’s thriving in hot weather’ 28 May 2020, 14:33 Updated : 28 May 2020, 16:31 THESE terrifying photos show the damage the UK’s
Giant Weed Spreading Across North America Can Cause Third Degree Burns And Blindness If Touched
People are being cautioned to be on the lookout for Giant hogweed, a plant with toxic sap that can cause third degree burns and even blindness. The toxic plants are an invasive species to North America, Europe and Britain and are spreading more and more, which means people and pets are coming into more frequent contact with it.
Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is from the carrot family and is often mistaken for cow parsnip, woodland angelica and Queen Anne’s Lace (also known as wild carrot). It’s the hogweed’s sap that distinguishes it from other plants because of its high toxicity. Giant hogweed sap contains toxic chemicals that make skin hyper-sensitive to ultraviolet light.
Giant Hogweed. Photo credit: Flickr/free photos
Once the sap is exposed to sunlight, it reacts and can cause severe blistering, permanent scarring and blindness if it comes in contact with the eyes.
Sometimes, people do not feel the reaction until a few days later when the sap on their body is exposed to the sun. Even after the affected areas of skin have healed, the skin can remain sensitive to light for years. The chemicals in the sap are known as furocoumarins and are carcinogenic and teratogenic, meaning they can cause cancer and birth defects.
It’s no wonder people want to spread the word of the dangers of the plant! And humans are not the only ones at risk. Livestock and dogs and cats can also be badly harmed. A Great Dane in England recently sniffed a Giant Hogweed plant, which burned her nose severely.
If you or someone you know comes physical contact with giant hogweed they should immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and cold water. If it gets into eyes, rinse them thoroughly with water and wear sunglasses. You will also need to keep the exposed area of skin out of the sun for at least 48 hours. It’s recommended you visit the doctor (or veterinarian, in the case of an animal) if you notice any signs of reaction.
10-year-old Lauren Fuller described how she came in contact with Giant Hogweed when out fishing with her father and ended up burning her hands. Caution: there are a few graphic photos contained in the video.
Key ways to identify the plant are:
- The stems are hairy and splotchy purple and green in color
- The leaves are dark green with three deep lobes
- It can reach a size of height of 14 feet (4-5 metres). Stems have a diameter of 5-10 cm.
- It has small, pretty, white flowers that are umbrella-shaped and can measure up to 80 cm across.
- The stems can still be toxic when they are dry and have no leaves!
Identifying giant hogweed. Photo credit: Beacon Bollin
If you find a plant in your neighborhood or garden, you are advised to contact your local municipality to inform them of the invasive plant. In the video below, there are some tips for the appropriate way to get rid of the hogweed.
People are advised not to make contact with the plant, and to keep pets and children away from the plant. Please share this important educational information with your friends and family!
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Giant Weed Spreading Across North America Can Cause Third Degree Burns And Blindness If Touched People are being cautioned to be on the lookout for Giant hogweed, a plant with toxic sap that can