WATCH ABOVE: A teenage boy in Hudson is suffering from painful blisters after coming into contact with wild parsnip. Global’s Sarah Volstad explains what to watch out for when in the garden.
HUDSON — The blisters on his hands are making it difficult for 14-year-old Reese Hitterman to perform even the simplest tasks.
“The first night I got them, I wasn’t very good at sleeping,” said Hitterman. “It also stopped me from doing daily things like eating and stuff because it’s hard to move my hand.”
It all started when the teen came into contact with a plant during a dirt bike excursion near Brockville, Ontario, last weekend.
“The next day, it was turning red and there were polka dots,” said Hitterman. “It wasn’t that bad. I thought it was a sunburn or something. But then I stayed in the sun all day so that’s why the blisters came.”
A family friend recognized the symptoms and told Hitterman they were likely caused by wild parsnip, an invasive plant that can be harmful to human health.
At Quinn Farm in Ile Perrot, the plant grows rampantly. Phil Quinn knows firsthand how unpleasant a reaction can be.
“It’s found pretty much everywhere in Quebec and Canada right now, especially along the ditch banks and anywhere the grass grows a little bit taller,” said Quinn.
It isn’t so much contact with the plant itself that causes irritation, as with the sap that’s inside. When exposed to UV rays, it can lead to severe blistering.
Hitterman had a reaction on his neck, hands and ankles – the sap even made its way through his socks.
When the teen returned from his trip on Monday, his mother was shocked at his condition and brought him straight to the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
“They shifted us from doctor to doctor who didn’t really quite know how to treat it,” said Shushy Hitterman, Reese’s mother. “Dermatology decided to treat it like a chemical burn.”
With the corticosteroids and cream that Hitterman was prescribed, the blisters should soon go away.
But Quinn says, in his experience, there could be some long-term effects.
“They will leave scars and it will be scary for a little bit, but they’ll go away after six months,” said Quinn.
Now, the Hittermans are sharing their experience – warning others of this little-known weed.
“If you’re going on a nature walk, be careful where you’re walking,” Shushy Hitterman warned. “Don’t be breaking the plants, or picking them.”
Reese Hitterman learned the hard way – but now knows not to trust the little yellow flowers.
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