Severe chemical burns, blisters: watch out for wild parsnip

By Adriana Christianson/CKOM News Staff
July 19, 2018 - 8:37am

If you have never heard of wild parsnip before, you might want to watch your step – that’s the message from Lumsden’s Kelly Strickland after getting severe blisters and burns on his feet.

Strickland said he had never heard of the tall yellow weed until last Thursday when he landed in the hospital after stepping in some.

“I walked out there probably about 10 feet and had flip flops on and didn’t think anything of it. Then, like five hours later, my feet started getting hot and irritated so I thought I had heat rash,” Strickland told 980 CJME in a phone interview. “Then they started swelling up and blistering so I went to the hospital and yeah, that’s what they said it most likely was.”

Wild parsnip is classified as an invasive species and designated as a noxious weed by the province. While the root of the plant is technically edible, the sap from the stem, leaves and flowers increases skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light which can lead to severe second-degree or chemical burns, blisters, rashes and dermatitis.

“I’m off work for about three weeks, still got peeling skin and blistering – they give you a topical steroid cream to put on and prednisone pills,” Strickland said.

He posted a photo of his severely blistered feet to the 980 CJME Facebook page, in response to a story about a rancher warning others after finding the weed near Outlook. A few other people posted photos describing similar experiences.

While many people grow up learning about poison ivy or poison oak in wooded areas, and even ticks, the effects of wild parsnip appear to be much more severe.

Strickland has been sending photos to his friends and family members warning them to get educated and watch out for the weed.

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