Four boys in Manchester, England suffered severe burns and boils over the weekend after they came into contact with a plant while playing in a park.
The families of the boys hope now that their injuries will serve as a warning to those who may come into contact with the plant. Known as hogweed, the plant carries a chemical called photosensitizing furanocoumarins. This chemical causes burns and blisters when coming into contact with human skin and does so by causing the skin to react sensitively to UV rays.
Two of the boys—Conor Knott, 13, and Reid Daley, 13—were sent to the hospital due to their injuries and were kept on a regiment of painkillers to deal with their burns. Knott was kept overnight whereas Daley has been in and out of the medical facility.
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Skin damaged by hogweed burns can take as long as seven years to fully heal. For now, the boys must protect themselves from sunlight.
“That night on Monday he was screaming in agony,” said Daley’s stepfather Mathew Cocklin. “Doctors didn’t have a clue what it was.”
He continued, “It starts like a red rash, like if you slap someone quite hard it goes bright red and slightly raised up and within 48 hours blisters start to appear."
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Daley has been was in a great deal of pain due to the burns.
“Since Tuesday morning he has had to take eight blister tablets in one go, Ibueprofen and pain killers,” the stepfather said. “He said, ‘I want to die stop this pain from hurting’.”
Cocklin has requested the city council to rid the park of the hogweed.
The boy’s aunt Rachel Brooks, 32, told reporters that the boy’s burns cover his arms and legs.
“They don’t seem to be clearing up,” she said.
The incident comes at the heels of another child being burned by the hogweed plant. This time, it happened to seven-year-old Annie Challinor while she was walking with her parents and younger brother.
“Nothing happened at all on the [day it happened]. No sting, nothing,” said her mother Rebecca, 36. “It was Sunday, I noticed a long line on her shoulder and back but I thought it was a bramble scratch. Then on Monday they’d turned into blisters, by that point she’d also got a high temperature and was in significant amount of pain.”
She added, “She was very upset by the blisters, they looked hot and angry, and she cried a lot.”
Photo Credit: Thepoisongarden.co.uk