The plant's watery sap contains photosensitizing agents. Contact with the eyes can cause temporary and sometimes permanent blindness. The latest confirmed sighting of giant hogweed in Clarke County, Virginia.
"Immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and keep the area away from sunlight for 48 hours, the agency recommends."
Compresses soaked in an aluminum acetate mixture - available at pharmacies - can provide relief for skin irritations.
"In brief, the sap prevents your skin from protecting itself from sunlight, which leads to a very bad sunburn", according to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. "This seems to be an isolated incident", Michael Flessner, an assistant professor and extension weed science specialist at Virginia Tech, said in a statement. Giant hogweeds have also been known to plague Washington and Oregon.
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