“It looked like a huge cold sore all over her body”: Toddler watched deadly skin infection and is left covered in giant blisters
A toddler was left covered with a sore and deadly skin rash after the normally treatable virus got into her bloodstream through an open wound – leaving her entire body looking like one giant cold sore.
Little Fern Lewis, two, was left covered in sores all over her body after the contagious foot, hand and mouth disease entered her body through scratch marks left from suffering from eczema.
Parents Katie Willaims, 32, and Paul Lewis, 26, were horrified after the disease spiralled out of control – leaving Fern hospitalised for three days as doctors battled to get the deadly rash under control.
Katie, a sales manager from Merthyr Tydfil, in Wales, said: “To start with we had no idea what it was. Fern’s older sister had caught the disease from children at her nursery.
“They got in touch to say that it was foot, hand and mouth disease and after a visit to the doctors we were told it wasn’t too serious and a course of antibiotics would clear it up.
“A few days later we noticed Fern had the same rash and again presumed it was the same thing and weren’t too concerned.
“We tried to treat the sores with antiseptic cream and to bring her temperature down with Calpol but it just got worse and worse.
“She was crying out in pain and the sores were bleeding from her scratching so hard.
“It looked like a giant cold sore all over her body.”
Katie was unaware that the easily treatable foot, hand and mouth disease and entered her system causing a condition known as Eczema Herpeticum, which can be fatal if not treated quickly.
The rare and serious skin infection is caused by the same herpes virus which causes cold sores, spreading quickly throughout the body, and is most common in young children.
Because of the breaks in Fern’s skin, it allowed the virus into her body, causing red blisters and a high temperature.
After a visit to the GP, Katie was advised to take Fern to a pediatrician at the Prince Charles Hospital straight away, where doctors battled to get the virus under control.
After hospital staff struggled to get an intravenous line into her small veins, she was given oral antibiotics and anti-viral medicine and a dermatologist later confirmed that it was Eczema Herpeticum.
Katie said: “She was in so much pain, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
“She was crying so much and they had tried four times to get her on an IV drip but her veins were too small.
“She was in agony and it was made worse by not knowing what was wrong.”
The virus was brought under control and Fern was able to recover at home with her older sisters, Ellie-Mae, 2, and Brooke, 11.
Katie is now warning other parents of the dangers of the condition that can spread to the organs of those who are already suffering from skin conditions.
She said: “I can’t thank the hospital staff enough, they were amazing, and made sure we were informed at every stage.
“Even colleagues from my workplace have been supportive and offered to bring food to the hospital for us.
“We had to make sure she stayed away from her sister for a while to stop anyone else from catching it.
“She is recovering well and we are hoping that it won’t leave any scars.
“We had never heard of it before now and want to make other parents aware of how serious it can be.”
Doctor Sweta Rai, of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “People with a background history of eczema are always at more risk of contracting the hypers virus associated with cold sores.
“The barrier in the skin is often broken down due to eczema, especially with young children, meaning the virus will easily get into their system.
“I advise parents I see to keep their children away from those with cold sores or any virus from the herpes family.
“Eczema Herpeticum is a medical emergency and anyone with these kinds of symptoms should seek medical help straight away.
“Parents should seek the help of a dermatologist and makes sure to check the child’s eyes as the top layer and cornea can be affected. A course of antiviral medication will help to clear up the infection.
“Parents and children should make sure to keep on top of hygiene, make sure they are on an eczema treatment plan to control flare ups and stay well rested and use antiseptic creams.”