Little Sienna Duffield, from Gloucester, a city and district in southwest England, stopped eating and was unwilling to go outdoors because her face was terribly “eaten alive” by a contagious virus. After a long eight months of suffering, she finally recovered and is once again a clear-skinned and beautiful girl.
For eight months, Sienna Duffield looked like someone had “thrown acid over her face,” as her mother described her toddler’s condition.
“She stopped eating and every day for eight months was horrific, there was always blood on her clothes,” her mother, Savina French-Bell, a nursery worker, told the Mirror back in 2016.
French-Bell said it was a hard time for her to take her little daughter outside. “I was scared to take her outside,” she said. “People would give us horrible looks, children would stare and adults would make nasty comments.”
— Daily Star (@Daily_Star) November 16, 2016
Sienna had her worst birthday in October 2015 at just age 2. “It came out of nowhere on her second birthday when she started developing ulcers in her mouth,” said French-Bell. Then the symptom spread all over the girl’s face. “It spread from her mouth to her cheeks, and above her eyes,” the mom added.
The blisters on her face were extremely itchy. “I tried to stop her from scratching herself but she would use surfaces such as sofas in the house to scratch her face,” said French-Bell.
“Sienna was being eaten alive by her skin infection,” the mom said. It caused bleeding, pus, and scabbing around her mouth, cheeks, and then extended to her eyes.
Sienna was rushed to the hospital on her birthday as the blisters covering her face started bleeding. She was put on an IV drip since she was unable to eat.
She caught herpes after kissing a family member. Poor child.
Sienna’s skin would stick to pillows and to her clothes every day, leaving blood marks everywhere. As a result, French-Bell had to wash her bed sheets daily and get rid of her blood-stained clothes every now and then.
At first, doctors thought the toddler had some sort of allergy or a severe case of eczema. However, no antibiotics or creams were working as the infection kept coming back, eating into her skin. French-Bell even prevented her daughter from eating or drinking certain foods, but to no avail.
Doctors were confused as to why the little girl’s face would be so ravaged by blisters. The worried mom then recalled all the events before Sienna got her first rash. Shockingly, she remembered that a family member had kissed the baby. The relative was suffering from herpes.
“I realized that she kissed a family member last year which brought on the infection. Everyone in the family was distraught,” French-Bell recounted.
"It looked like someone had thrown acid over her face."
Finally, the mystery was solved. Sienna had accidentally got the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), a highly contagious infection, from the relative. Doctors eventually treated her successfully. After eight months of agony, Sienna’s condition had cleared up after she was given flucloxacillin antibiotics.
“For the past few months, Sienna’s face has looked amazing and the infection has not returned,” said French-Bell after the girl’s 3rd birthday.
According to the World Health Organization, most HSV-1 infections are acquired during childhood. The infection is lifelong and is currently incurable. The herpes virus will go through dormant phases and become inactive for indeterminable periods of time, but it can reactivate unpredictably, causing milder cold sore symptoms, as per Medical News Today.
Despite concern that Sienna’s skin condition would recur, French-Bell reassured herself to stay positive. “There is always a chance of it coming back but fingers crossed it won’t happen and her skin will stay as good as it is now,” said the mom. “I was told that the older she gets, the better her body will be at fighting off infections.”
“It’s great to be able to go outside and not get any horrible comments from anyone,” said the happy mother. “Whereas before people were nasty to Sienna, now everyone is overwhelmed at how her face has healed, and that’s amazing to see.”
Through this story, French-Bell wishes to warn other parents of such dangers. It’s better to keep babies away if parents are aware that a certain person has some communicable disease. In Sienna’s case, a simple gesture of a kiss brought her so much pain and made her suffer for such a long time. Had the diagnosis got delayed a bit more, it would have been dangerous for the little girl.
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