Four teenagers were left with blisters, burns and scratches caused by weeds found growing next to a playing field.

The 15-year-olds needed antibiotics and antihistamine treatment following the incident and two may need further dermatology treatment to prevent permanent scarring.

Their parents have raised concerns about how the plant, believed to be hogweed, was able to grow so high right next to a public area.

The field is used by children of all ages as well as dog walkers.

The council has now removed the weeds, which had reached a height of 4ft, and cleared the area.

However the parents of the teenagers fear they may return and say warning signs should be put in place.

The incident happened on playing fields at Happy Valley, Woodingdean, when Danny Ford, Liam Barnard, Archie Hammond and Lewis Charlesworth were training for Rottingdean FC Under-16s.

They had all run into the grassy area after a football and then started having a bad reaction.

Huge blisters

Lisa Ford, 46, from Woodingdean, said: “Danny developed welts and big orange blisters – he looked like he had been whipped and his skin was all burned. They were really, really painful.

“He also had marks on his face where he had wiped away sweat after his hands had touched the plants. He was in a lot of pain.

“It was only a few days later that I realised the other boys had been badly affected as well.

“We went down to the playing fields to take a look and were pretty shocked.

“I have used the area and walked my dogs down here for 11 years and I had never seen the grass that high.

“It should not have been allowed to get to that state.

“If a smaller child had run through that grass, or a dog, it could have caused a lot of damage.”

Denise Barnard, from Saltdean, was shocked when she saw what had happened to her son Liam.

She said: “He came home and said it felt like he had been burnt. At first I didn’t think too much but he woke up the next day and his skin was covered in blisters and he had burn marks on his arms and legs.

“We’re worried now that he may be really badly scarred and will need further treatment.

“We were surprised the grass got that tall.”

A spokeswoman for Brighton and Hove City Council said there had been no other reports of incidents around the city.

She said: “As soon as we became aware of this incident, the council cut down vegetation in the whole field to prevent a recurrence. By cutting the whole area where the plants were, we believe we have eliminated the risk of it happening again.”