A GARDENER was almost blinded and left with horrific burns to his face when toxic sap from a giant hogweed squirted on him.
Doctors told Oliver Fenton, 25, he was lucky not to have lost his sight after the juice landed on his eyelid.
Showing the terrible burns to his face and body, Oliver, a self-employed gardener from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, described his painful injuries.
He said: "I was in someone's garden doing some garden clearance and I didn't actually cut any of the hogweed – I just came into contact with it.
"It was the red marks which came up first of all after the first few hours.
"Unaware I had got this sap on me, I continued to work and it wasn't until two and a half days later I came up with all the blisters."
Oliver went straight to the doctors where he was told he'd been soaked in the sap.
He added: "I had steroid cream, dressings, it was all bandaged up for around four or five days."
To his horror, some of the sap landed on his eyelid, nearly leaving him blind.
"If you actually get the sap in your eye you can be blind so that was really close," he said.
Describing the pain he's endured from the blistering, Oliver said "It's unbearable, it's really itchy, really irritating.
"It's as if you've been dancing in stinging nettles or something like that.
"Once it's had a bit of sunlight on it, that's when it reacts to the UV rays and starts to blister.
"I was in excruciating agony, constantly being reminded of the pain until the blisters popped and started to heal up."
Giant Hogweed or Heracleum mantegazzianum, is a vicious weed which can have devastating effects when it comes into contact with the human body.
Its sap contains toxic chemicals which react with light when it touches skin, causing blistering within 48 hours.
It prevents the skin from protecting itself from sunlight, which can lead to very bad sunburn and scarring.
getting soaked in the sap can result in painful blisters, long-lasting scars.
It can cause ulcers and blindness and one nature expert, Mike Duddy, from the River Trust, said: "It is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most dangerous plant in Britain."
The burns and pain are pure agony and I can't walk. I would hate to see a child in my position. The pain is unreal.
The perfect cocktail of hot weather and rain has made hogweed flourish in recent weeks, experts say.
It can tower a Triffid-like 23ft tall and is now public enemy number one in the countryside.
Horticulturist Dean Simmons was left with life-changing injuries after brushing against one of the plants growing in Taunton, Somerset, in 2015.
Its tentacle-like fronds touched his bare legs and he suffered agonising skin burns that doctors say would take months to heal.
Speaking at the time he said: "The burns and pain are pure agony and I can't walk. I would hate to see a child in my position. The pain is unreal."
In September 2014, Keith Cooper, 50, was hospitalised by the plant's toxic sap after he went to look at a "pretty plant" that his wife Maria had seen in the undergrowth.
Keith, of Howdon, Tyne and Wear, said doctors warned he would not be able to expose his badly-burnt right leg to sunlight until the year 2022.
Anyone who comes in contact with the weed is advised to cover up the affected area, to prevent the sap reacting with sunlight, and to wash it with soap and water.
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