A young girl was left in agony as enormous blisters formed on her hands as she touched a plant while out walking with her grandmother.
Little Ruby, 3, was ‘sobbing constantly’ after touching the vicious hogweed plant as she picked flowers in Broughty Ferry, Dundee.
Mum Caitlin Duffy, 26, was later forced to rush the toddler to hospital as the blisters double in size as she played in the sun.
Caitlin has since issued a stark warning to other parents after the traumatising experience, the Daily Record reports.
She said: “She was down by the footpath that walks into Broughty Ferry and my mum says she was picking flowers down there- but she obviously didn’t know what it was she was picking.
“The reaction didn’t actually come out until the Wednesday morning- and the doctors said the reaction probably worsened as she was playing out in the sun.
“That’s what caused the blisters to get so bad, and they said that giant hogweed will always affect that area of her hand which will now always be prone to sunburn and things like that.
“It’s quite frightening that this has all happened from a plant and I think a lot of people don’t even know what it is or that it can do that.”
Giant hogweed was introduced to the UK more than 100 years ago and now grows wild across the country.
It can cause horrific burns to humans and is deadly to some animals and other plants.
Caitlin added that medics at Dundee’s Ninewells hospital had acted professionally to help the tot by bursting the huge blisters.
She said: “I got such a fright when she woke up (with the blisters), I thought she’d touched something hot or burned herself.
“She didn’t know what was happening either and kept crying ‘what’s happened to my fingers?’
“She must have been so frightened and I felt guilty because she was in so much pain with it.
“She was ok in the morning, it wasn’t until later in the afternoon it started to get really painful and she was just sobbing constantly and that’s when I decided to go up to Ninewells.
“They popped all the big blisters for her and that seems to have given her some relief but she still won’t use that hand at the moment and just isn’t herself.
“She’s never had an experience like that but the way the staff handled it was so amazing.”
Caitlin added: “I’d just say to other parents to be vigilant and learn about this, children do pick plants and I’m certainly so much more cautious now.
“Just keep your eyes peeled. If they are in contact with it, have them wash their hands immediately.
“The last two days have been so stressful and I’d never want someone else to go through that.
“Just watching her in so much pain has been absolutely horrible. She’s not herself yet and it’s quite heartbreaking to see.”
The invasive plant is not native to Britain and was and was first introduced to the UK in the 19th century from central Asia and the Caucasus mountains,
Growth has since expanded across the country and the plant is also listed under the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 – which means it cannot be imported, kept, bred, transported, sold, used or exchanged, allowed to reproduce, grown, cultivated, or released into the environment.
Caitlin, who is a nurse, sent a letter of thanks to NHS Tayside.
It reads: “I wanted to send in a message this morning to thank the nurse and doctor who help myself and my daughter last night at the paediatric assessment unit in Ninewells.
“We were sent there last night by out of hours due to painful blisters that had appeared on my daughters hand that morning. They were all so kind and patient with her as they tried to figure out what was going on.
“As suspected, they said it was likely a reaction to hogweed that she had managed to touch a day or two before. They made sure to get all the proper advice before deciding what to do and then proceeded to pop her very large blisters with needles.
“My daughter was so incredibly brave through this process and it was made so much easier by their calming attitude and personalities. In the panic of the day I cannot remember their names but I hope someone will see this and know it was them.
“Special thanks also going to the nurse for the plate of toast. It may seem small but to a mum that hadn’t managed to eat a meal yet after a stressful day, it was everything also for the doll and colouring book for my brave wee solider.
“I never thought in 100 years all this could be caused by a plant. So by sharing what happened to us, we hope we can prevent some other little ones going through this. Keep an eye out for hogweed plants around the area.”