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Why A 32-Year-Old Dad Wanted To 'Cut Off His Leg' After A Brush With Common Hogweed

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Common hogweed can cause some medical complications, as in the case of a man in the United Kingdom who nearly lost his leg from getting into contact with these plants.

The Story Of Nathan Davies

On May 20, Nathan Davies from Ammanford was doing some general maintenance of a garden by trimming the plants. Due to the hot weather, he wore shorts. He received a few cuts and scrapes on his left leg from the plants, but he didn't really think much about it.

Two days later, Davies noticed that his leg was dominated by a sudden batch of blisters. At first, the blisters were small, but they gradually expanded. The 32-year-old covered up the blisters and pretended that he wasn't in pain so that his 8-month-old son wouldn't notice.

By May 25, Nathan collapsed as the infection on his leg worsened. He was rushed to the emergency room.

"I waited two hours and a nurse wanted to send me home with some antibiotics," Davies told Wales Online. 

Eventually, a doctor looked at Davies and diagnosed his condition. He ordered that Davies receive an emergency surgery.

During the procedure, doctors opened his leg from the patella to the ankle bone. As a result of the infection devouring his skin, his leg was bandaged. He is currently on pain medication, including morphine and codeine. Davies said that the pain was really awful.

"A part of me just wants to cut my leg off from the knee," he said.

Doctors said that if the infection kept spreading across his leg, Davies could have lost the ability to walk. While in the hospital, Davies is set to have a third procedure to wash the infected skin and to have a skin graft performed.

What Is Common Hogweed And Why Is It Dangerous?

While in the garden, Davies received his infection from common hogweed, a type of plant with some toxic chemicals. Contact with this plant during the presence of sunlight could result in phytophotodermatitis, or lime disease, which causes the skin to burn and develop blisters. Hogweed thrives during the warmer months, and they can typically be found near riverbanks and gardens.

While a strong herbicide could be used to stop the chemicals, the best remedy is to simply prevent skin contact with the common hogweed. People should wear long pants, shirts with long sleeves, and gloves.

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