A grandmother is warning South Downs walkers to be careful after her four-year-old grandson was left with ‘nasty’ blisters and swelling from picking a wild plant.
Kathryn Penny, of Bessborough Terrace in Lancing, believes the dangers of wild parsnips are not widely known, after doctors failed to identify the cause of her grandson Tom’s injuries.
“Everyone knows about giant hogweed and there are lots of warnings, but this one no one seems to have heard of,” she said.
Tom had been out for a walk in Mill Hill, Shoreham, with his father, his one-year-old brother Noah and their dog, on Tuesday, July 25, when he decided to pick some flowers for his grandmother.
“His favourite colour is yellow, so he picked a tall yellow flower,” Kathryn said.
The plant left sap on his hands, which his parents washed off without a problem.
For several days his hands were quite swollen and red, with more blisters coming up. It was quite nasty.Grandmother Kathryn Penny
But the next day, his mother Bryony Grindley was surprised to see his hands turning red and coming up with blisters.
“At first, his mum thought he had touched the kettle,” Kathryn said.
Kathryn took Tom to both the pharmacy and the doctor, where she was told it was an allergic reaction and given an antihistamine.
It was only after more research online that the family identified the plant he had touched as wild parsnip.
According to the NHS website, the plant’s sap contains chemicals called furoumarins, which are absorbed by the skin and can then react with sunlight to cause inflammation.
Kathryn said: “For several days his hands were quite swollen and red, with more blisters coming up.
“It was quite nasty. His parents were concerned about it.”
After returning to the doctor, Tom was given steriod cream and antibiotics to treat any burst blisters.
Kathryn said: “He’s been very brave.”
She said it was important to warn others about the plant as she said: “Now we are aware of it, we keep seeing it.
“Other children might pick it.”
The NHS advises to contact your doctor if you develop blisters from the plant.