A toddler suffered a harrowing ordeal from what doctors mistakenly believed was eczema or allergies.
Three-year-old Sienna Duffield first showed signs of painful and contagious blisters and itchy skin in October 2015. She was admitted to the hospital, where she received an IV drip because she had stopped eating.
"Sienna was being eaten alive by her skin infection,” her mother Savina French-Bell, 21, said. “It came out of nowhere on her second birthday when she started developing ulcers in her mouth. She stopped eating and every day for eight months was horrific. There was always blood on her clothes and I was scared to take her outside.”
It wasn’t until earlier this year, after a host of prescribed antibiotics and eczema creams, that Sienna’s condition was correctly diagnosed as herpes.
"For eight months, no antibiotics were working as the infection kept coming back and her face was being ravaged,” said Savina. "I was told she may have allergies to something, so I kept her away from pets and made sure she no longer consumed any dairy products.”
Her mother said an interaction with a family member in October 2015 caused the severe infection.
“I realized that she kissed a family member last year which brought on the infection," Savina said. "Everyone in the family was distraught."
Herpes Simpex type 1 is reported to affect 3.7 billion people under the age of 50, according to the World Health Organization. The virus is highly infectious and currently incurable.
Savina had to wash Sienna's bed sheets daily and constantly throw out clothes because of daily blood stains from Sienna's sores as her conditioned worsened.
The painful blisters were extremely itchy and caused Sienna's sensitive skin to be covered in blood stains and pus.
The young mother is now sharing their story to help other parents battling the same condition.
"It started to look like someone had thrown acid over her face, it spread from her mouth to her cheeks, and above her eyes,” Savina said. "People would give us horrible looks, children would stare and adults would make nasty comments.
Sienna was eventually given flucloxacillin antibiotics which worked after doctors thought she had a severe case of eczema.
"Her face took so long to heal because her body was so weak,” Savina.
Savina now says her daughter's face has never looked so clear and she hopes that the virus won't return in the future.
The herpes virus goes through dormant phases where it becomes inactive for indeterminable periods of time, but can reactivate unpredictably.
"For the past few months Sienna's face has looked amazing and the infection has not returned,” Savina said. "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. It's great to be able to go outside and not get any horrible comments from anyone.”