Teen warns others after suffering severe burns caused by giant hogweed

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RICHMOND, VA – A Virginia teen’s future plans may be put on hold after suffering a severe burn caused by an invasive hogweed plant, CBS6 reports.

Like many teens here in Indiana, Alex Childress has spent his summer working outside. After clearing vegetation for a landscape project earlier this week, Childress felt intense burns he assumed were caused by sunburns from the previous day.

Childress continued working through the pain and didn’t realize the intensity of the burns until he returned home in the evening. “When Alex got home, he got in the shower and the skin on his face was basically peeling away and peeling off,” his father explained in an interview with CBS6.

Childress’ mother, a nurse at a local medical center, suspected that his injuries were second to third-degree burns in need of immediate medical attention.

Once Childress was taken to the burn center at VCU Medical Center, doctors determined that he came in contact with sap from a giant hogweed plant. This, in combination with sun exposure, can cause third degree burns and permanent blindness.

Childress received a full-ride scholarship to Virginia Tech this fall, but due to his recent injuries he may have to defer his acceptance until he can get a medical waiver form his doctor.

This case occurred in Virginia, but Hoosiers are encouraged to keep their eyes peeled for the invasive plant as they spend time outside this summer.

The plant’s hollow stems are generally two to four inches in diameter, with dark purple and red raised spots and bristle-like hairs. The umbrella-shaped white floral blooms grow up to two and a half feet wide.

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