Mum’s warning after girl suffers agonising blisters by touching toxic plant on beach

Mum’s warning after girl suffers agonising blisters by touching toxic plant on beach

 

A mum has issued a warning to other parents after her three-year-old daughter suffered blisters by touching a toxic plant on a beach.

Ruby Duffy received hospital treatment after picking up giant hogweed from an area at the Grassy Beach in Dundee, Scotland.

Doctors at Ninewells Hospital popped the blisters using needles and said it could be months before the wounds fully heal.

Her family has been warned, however, that the child’s right hand may be sensitive to UV light for the rest of her life.

Ruby’s mum Caitlin Duffy said she “never thought in 100 years” such injuries could be caused by a plant in Scotland and hopes to warn others of the danger.

Giant hogweed was first introduced to Britain in the 19th century from Asia and used as an ornamental plant in the gardens of the wealthy.

She said: “I’d heard of hogweed but couldn’t have told you what it looks like.

“The effects have been a real shock. Children are so curious so I’m worried this could happen to others.

“Her hand is always going to be affected by sunlight, we’ve been told.

“It will likely be sore and itchy for another four months too. She’s really struggling with daily activities just now.

“Despite it being quite serious, I actually think she’s been quite lucky.

“Imagine if the weed touched her face.”

Caitlin said the incident likely happened on Monday while her daughter was with her mum at the Stannergate’s Grassy Beach.

The route is a popular walking and cycling path which connects the Port of Dundee and Broughty Ferry.

She said: “My mum said she was picking them from a big overgrown area by the side of the path.

“That is likely why she has such bad injuries.

“It took two days for the blisters to come out but when they did they were made so much worse by the hot weather.

“It got so bad that day we were told she needed to be seen immediately on Wednesday evening at Ninewells.

“She’s been incredibly brave through it all but it’s been a really distressing experience.

“Watching her in so much pain has been really hard. The staff were amazing though.

“They were all so kind and patient with her as they tried to figure out what was going on.”

The weed has been described as Britain’s most dangerous plant because of its sap.

According to the Woodland Trust, it can reach heights of 5m with single leaves 3m long.

It is believed the sap’s harmful effects, which can affect pets as well as people, are triggered by sunlight.

It should not be confused with the far more common and much smaller hogweed, which is a native British wildflower that does not cause skin irritation.

Dr Peter Fitzsimons, technical manager of the Property Care Association’s invasive weed control group, said: “Giant hogweed’s sap is extremely toxic to the skin in sunlight, making it a danger to public health.

“Youngsters are more likely to come into contact with the plant during the summertime and the mix of warm weather and rain has provided good conditions for the weed to take hold this year.

“Giant hogweed is also spreading across a wider area, meaning that people are more likely to encounter it.”

If you think may have come into contact with giant hogweed, you should wash skin that could have been exposed with soap, Cambridgeshire Live reports.

If you get skin irritation, you should seek medical advice.

Blisters may heal slowly and could develop into a rash.

If you do attempt to cut any back, the Royal Horticultural Society recommends protective clothing and a face visor and for the clothing and tools to be washed afterwards, but it is advisable to seek professional advice.

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