Teen Burns Face, Arms From Giant Hogweed Plant

Report: Va. Tech Freshman Treated for Giant Hogweed Burns

He said Friday that reported sightings of the giant hogweed plant have increased since its presence in the state was confirmed last month.

If you have to get involved yourself, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) advises that you wear gloves, cover your arms and legs, and ideally wear a face mask when working on or near it.

Alex's mother, a nurse at VCU Medical Center, returned home and determined the 17-year-old's injuries were 2nd to 3rd-degree burns that needed immediate medical attention. He kept working because he did not realize what it was, he said.

The risky plant has been found in several locations in Virginia and can cause significant burns and permanent blindness if handled improperly. "I didn't pay any mind to it because I do it all the time".

"The top layer of skin on the left side of his face basically was gone and appeared to be like a really bad burn that had already peeled", Jason Childress said in describing his son's condition.

Childress was taken to Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, but was then transported to the burn center at VCU in order to get proper treatment for his burns. But he says most reports have been unfounded. "Standing in the shower and having the water run over an open wound kind of hurts".

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He's anxious about not being able to attend Virginia Tech this fall on his ROTC scholarship. Childress was discharged Thursday. "I just don't say it because he's my kid, but he's one of the toughest kids that I've ever seen".

In Virginia, giant hogweed is classified as a Tier 1 noxious weed, requiring that "no person shall move, transport, deliver, ship, or offer for shipment into or within the Commonwealth any noxious weed" without a permit.

The plant is phytotoxic to humans, meaning when the skin it touches is exposed to sunlight it can cause severe reactions including blistering and burning.

It can grow up to 14 feet tall and is identifiable by its deceptively pretty white flower clusters.

Childress' father, Justin, said they later discovered his pain was caused by a brief encounter with sap from the Giant Hogweed plant.

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