A retro footwear fad is being blamed for sending a Texan toddler to the hospital emergency room with blisters, peeling skin, and bleeding that was so severe plastic surgery might be needed.
Houston mother Felicia Marie Hillman shared on social media graphic photos of blisters and burns on her 2-year-old daughter, Rosie, that the toddler allegedly suffered after wearing a pair of jelly sandals from Walmart.
The photos, which have since been taken down, explained that the injuries from wearing the sandals for just one day were severe enough to send Rosie to hospital.
“A few weeks ago, I bought Rosie those jelly sandals from Walmart and this is what we have been dealing with since then,” Hillman said in the Facebook post, which was shared more than 120,000 times, according to Yahoo! Canada Style. “After one day in them, she came home from daycare with blisters. Only one day she was in them. The last picture is today after we spent last night in the emergency room. We have spent other nights in urgent care and the emergency room.”
— Yahoo Canada Style (@YahooStyleCA) April 24, 2019
The popularity of jelly shoes, which peaked in the 1980s and 1990s, has increasingly returned lately as an affordable and colorful footwear option for women and children.
However, the shoe is made from polyvinyl chloride—the same material used in pipes, vinyl flooring, and automotive parts, which can be uncomfortable to wear in warmer temperatures. Friction between the shoe and foot can cause blisters and severe burns.
“After countless antibiotics and creams, finally we have some relief. Thank God this steroid cream is working,” Hillman said. “My poor Rosie girl has been a trooper. From blisters to horrific skin peeling and bleeding—thank God no infections have ever come into play.”
Hillman confirmed that Rosie is still on the road to recovery.
“Still a long way to go,” she said. “We have to see a plastic surgeon to make sure she won’t need skin grafts to make up for the skin she lost.”
Sacramento mother Monica Guthrie urged other parents on social media to avoid letting their children wear jelly shoes out of concern they may contain harmful chemicals.
“Anyone who has girls don’t buy the jelly shoes from Walmart,” she said in a Facebook post dated April 12. “I heard about this last year and now it’s still happening. Chemicals from those shoes are ruining our babies’ feet.”
Anyone who has girls don’t buy the jelly shoes from Walmart! I heard about this last year and now it’s still happening! Chemicals from those shoes are ruining our babies feet!
The warning came about two years after Maryville, Tennessee, mom Kelly Pruitt claimed on social media her granddaughter McKinley, 10 months old, was found to have higher than normal levels of lead after wearing jelly shoes.
“She has only worn them twice. The second time being on Tuesday when I took her to the doctor. The nurse came in and said I’ll need to stick her toe for some blood, so she stuck her big toe on her left foot and left the room,” Pruitt said in a Facebook post dated July 20, 2017. “The nurse came back in and she said I need to check her again, her lead levels are really high. (Above 60) … (normal is below 3.3) she said by the way is she wearing jelly shoes from Walmart? … I said yes, why? She said Google it. There are reports that Walmart jelly shoes contain lead.”
A few weeks ago, I bought a pair like these, "jelly" shoes for my granddaughter, McKinley. She has only worn them twice….
However, Oregon filmmaker and lead poisoning prevention advocate Tamara Rubin visited a local Walmart store in Portland and tested several pairs of jelly shoes on the rack with an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, which the Consumer Product Safety Commission is believed to use to detect heavy metals including lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic in consumer goods.
None of the jelly shoes sold in store tested positive for lead and even the shopping trolley produced a negative result. Rubin suggests the nurse who tested McKinley’s shoes failed to take into account the environment the child was walking in while conducting the test.
“2017 and 2018 Walmart toddler jelly shoes do not have lead but, if your child tested positive for lead in their blood while wearing the shoes, then the dust or soil in your community might have unsafe levels of lead,” she said in a Facebook post dated June 24, 2018. “If you tested the shoes with a home kit and think they are positive, you might be using the test kit incorrectly, which is not uncommon if you have not used one of these kits before.”
Walmart previously released a written response to Yahoo! about the mother’s allegations.
“Walmart takes product safety seriously. All products in question were tested before being placed on our shelves and we initiated over 200 additional tests in the past month to further confirm the safety of the shoes,” the hypermarket group said back in 2017. “All tests once again have shown these shoes are safe and meet applicable standards.”