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Everyone should know this poisonous plant: Impending skin damage from phototoxic substances


Plant burns often show up a few days later

Contact with certain plants can have dire consequences. One of the best-known representatives among dangerous plants is the giant hogweed, also known as the Hercules perennial. This contains so-called phototoxic substances, which can cause severe skin damage in contact with sunlight. Many sufferers cannot explain the burns, because the skin reactions usually occur with a delay of two to three days.

Dr. Hermann Josef Kahl is a pediatrician and youth spokesman for the professional association of pediatricians (BVKJ). He warns parents about the possible consequences of contact with toxic plants: "These plants can cause very severe skin damage in combination with sun exposure," explains the specialist in a press release. The skin damage can be like burns and must be treated as such.

No direct sunlight needed

"However, direct sunlight is not absolutely necessary to trigger a reaction," warns Kahl. The effect of UV-A radiation on a thin cloud cover could also be sufficient. This skin damage often occurs in the area of ​​the legs, face, neck and forearms.

Immediate measures against the toxic ingredients

"If children come into contact with plant juice splashes, parents should wash the affected skin areas thoroughly with soap and water," advises the pediatrician. If plant sap has got into your eye, you must rinse it out immediately with water. For safety reasons, an ophthalmologist should also be contacted. Furthermore, children who have come into contact with such plants should stay away from the sun for two days and also refrain from swimming.

Treatment of phototoxic burn

The expert recommends protecting the affected skin areas with sunscreen. The resulting swelling and inflammatory reactions can be alleviated according to Kahl with ice packs and moist compresses. If the reactions are particularly strong or large areas of the skin are affected, a doctor should be consulted.

Giant hogweed is popular with children

"Ideally, children should not play around giant hogweed or other phototoxic plants," explains Kahl. However, the Hercules tree is very popular with children because it is suitable for playing hide-and-seek, for example. In addition, the perennial has long and thick stems from which children can make improvised swords or blowpipes.

More dangerous plants

Giant hogweed is one of the best-known phototoxic poison plants. But there are a number of other plants that use Urushiole or Furocumarine as a defense. These chemical compounds trigger the harmful effects. Other phototoxic plants include:

  • Parsley,
  • Parsnip,
  • Dill,
  • Anise,
  • Real celery,
  • Real coriander,
  • some meadow grasses,
  • Hemlock,
  • Cartilage carrot,
  • Citrus like lemon and lime,
  • Figs,
  • Mulberries,
  • Bergamot,
  • the leaves of the carrot.

Care should also be taken when gardening

Recently, a case caused a sensation in which a 32-year-old Briton complained of pain after gardening. He had suffered severe burns and rashes from contact with hogweed. The blisters had become so severe that an emergency operation had to be performed. (vb)

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