It’s something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, but every year, one in 300,000 people are struck by lightning .
Thankfully, around 90 per cent of those struck survive – but not without some evidence of the lightning strike.
The electrical discharge leaves those hit with a red tattoo-like mark, known as the Lichtenberg figure.
To understand what happens when you’re struck by lightning, we firstly need to understand what lightning actually is.
Lightning is a sudden electrical discharge that occurs during thunderstorms, when clouds fill up with electrical charges.
If you’re unlucky enough to be in exactly the spot where the lightning strikes, the electrical charge will short-circuit as it enters your body.
This can lead to cardiac arrest, seizures, brain injury, spinal cord damage, eye damage and even amnesia.
The red scars form as the electrical charge moves through your body to the surface of your skin.
This forces red blood cells out of your vessels, and into your epidermis – much like how a bruise forms.
These dramatic marks, are sometimes referred to as ‘lightning flowers’ or ‘lightning trees’.
Speaking to NBC News, Dr Mathew Avram, a dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, said: "The feathering marks are formed by the transmission of static electricity along the superficial blood vessels that nourish the skin.
"They’re the kind of marks that when an emergency medicine doctor sees it, you know exactly what the diagnosis is – a lightning strike.
"These are an unbelievably rare thing to see."
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