A Father has called for warnings to be put in place in the area where his daughter received horrific burns from the Giant Hogweed plant to prevent other being harmed in the same way.
10 year old Lauren Fuller was playing near a riverbank in the Loch Lomond area, and picked the plant while building a den. Within hours she had bright red burns on her hands and face which developed into large blisters, and she may now need skin grafts to repair the damage. There have also been several case of children being burned recently in other areas around Greater Manchester where the plant is common - these are Clifton Country Park in Salford and Moses Gate Country Park in Bolton.
The burns are caused when the plant's sap gets onto the skin, as it causes photo-sensitivity so that the exposed skin can be badly burned by sunlight. The plant is difficult to get rid of once established, and the advice is to wear protective gloves and to keep skin covered when dealing with it.
If we are more aware of what the plant looks like then we can avoid it, and Lauren's father would like to see warning signs placed where it grows in large numbers, similar to the deep water warnings that are placed near rivers. This already happens in other countries where Giant Hogweed Plants have taken a firm hold.
In the meantime the more people who are aware of the dangers the better. The huge plants are just the type of thing that children would be drawn to when out playing because of their height, so a warning might hopefully prevent more injuries. The much smaller Common Hogweed is not harmful, it is only the Giant Hogweed that is dangerous. If you come into contact with the sap the NHS advice is to immediately wash the area well with soap and cold water as soon as possible, and cover it up. Keep the area away from sunlight for 48 hours, but see a medical professional if you have a reaction to it.
(images SWNS, Alamy)