Teen reveals rare illness left her covered in 18 flesh-earing ulcers

Teenager’s face is covered with flesh-eating ulcers that have left her with 2cm deep HOLES and dark brown scabs after she contracted an illness so rare doctors can’t diagnose it

  • WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES: Kirsten Cowell, 19, from Ammanford in Wales has a rare illness that’s left her face covered in 18 painful flesh-eating ulcers
  • Her face has become covered in three-quarter inch deep holes that ooze pus
  • Dermatologist suspect she has pyoderma gangrenosum which causes large open sores to grow all over the body, rotting away skin and tissue,

A teenager has revealed  how she was forced to end her relationship and left unable to leave her house or start a career because of a rare illness that caused dozens of deep ulcers and boils on her face. 

Kirsten Cowell, 19, from Ammanford in Wales, was forced to break up with her boyfriend due to being in constant pain and is forced to eat a liquid diet for yoghurt and soup as she is unable to chew.

Her dermatologist suspect she has pyoderma gangrenosum which causes large open sores to grow all over the body, rotting away skin and tissue, although she is yet to get a diagnosis from a specialist. 

Kirsten Cowell, 19, from Ammanford in Wales, was forced to break up with her boyfriend due to being in constant pain and is forced to eat a liquid diet for yoghurt and soup as she is unable to chew. Pictured before getting sick 

A teenager has revealed how she was forced to end her relationship and left unable to leave her house or start a career because of a rare illness that caused dozens of deep ulcers and boils on her face.

The condition is so debilitating that she felt forced to end her two-year relationship with her boyfriend.

Kirsten was due to start a nail technician course but now rarely leaves the house due to the ‘extreme pain’ and she is forced to eat a diet of yoghurt, ice cream and soup as moving her face to chew is so painful. 

‘They look and feel like I have been stabbed in the face. I am constantly in extreme pain even if I move any part of my face or head and it’s worst in the mornings,’ she explained.

‘My daily life now just consists of dealing with the pain and trying to manage the seeping 24/7.

‘I can’t manage to do anything at all anymore. I’ve had to move back to my mum’s house because I need the care.

‘I had to finish my two-and-a-half-year relationship with my partner who I lived with due to feeling so ugly and not confident because it wasn’t fair on him to manage me like this.

The teen’s entire face has now become covered in three-quarter inch deep holes that ooze pus and are covered in dark brown scabs, which she first began to notice three months ago

Her dermatologist suspect she has pyoderma gangrenosum which causes large open sores to grow all over the body, rotting away skin and tissue, although she is yet to get a diagnosis from a specialist

WHAT IS PYODERMA GANGRENOSUM?

Pyoderma gangrenosum is an inflammatory condition that starts as a rapidly enlarging, very painful ulcer. 

It is thought to affect around one in 100,000 people in the UK and US.

Pyoderma gangrenosum is an inflammatory condition that starts as a rapidly enlarging, very painful ulcer

Pyoderma gangrenosum is believed to occur as a result of a pre-existing condition such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis.

The condition is thought to come about due to an overreaction of the immune system. 

If untreated, ulcers, which usually start as minor injuries, can continue to enlarge.

Treatment typically involves non-surgically removing the affected tissue. Surgery is avoided as this may enlarge the ulcer.

If untreated, ulcers, which usually start as minor injuries, can continue to enlarge

Small ulcers can often be treated with topical or injected steroids, as well as special dressings and oral anti-inflammatory antibiotics.

Larger ulcers may require oral antibiotics. 

Wound care is also essential in all cases.

Source: DermNet New Zeland 

‘I had to leave the relationship for my own mental health.

‘I didn’t have the best confidence before anyways, just like any teenage girl who compares themselves to others but looking back now I believe I was very pretty and I wouldn’t dare call myself ugly ever again.’

Kirsten is on a course of antibiotics and steroids and had surgery on Friday to remove the 18 scabs and clean the wounds.

Her face needs to be dressed with bandages once a day and mum Allison, 47,  wraps her pillows in puppy pads so that the pus can’t seep through.

The condition is so debilitating that she felt forced to end her two-year relationship with her boyfriend.

Kirsten was due to start a nail technician course but now rarely leaves the house due to the ‘extreme pain’ and she is forced to eat a diet of yoghurt, ice cream and soup as moving her face to chew is so painful. She is pictured before with her mum Allison 

Kirsten is on a course of antibiotics and steroids and had surgery on Friday to remove the 18 scabs and clean the wounds.

Stay-at-home mum Allison said: ‘She looks like she’s been shot in the face.

‘They are extremely sore and she’s in extreme pain and the wounds are seeping to the bottom of the bandages.

‘It’s been three months of hell. Her confidence has gone down the pan. She doesn’t want to be here, she’s suicidal, depressed and she doesn’t want to live and I don’t blame her. I don’t know how a person can suffer this pain for this long.

‘She’s had to quit her college course before she’s even started. She’s too nervous to even have a shower.

Her face needs to be dressed with bandages once a day and mum Allison, 47, wraps her pillows in puppy pads so that the pus can’t seep through.

Kirsten first noticed the boils three months ago and assumed they’d clear up within a couple of weeks but two weeks ago, she noticed they were getting deeper and becoming more painful.

‘She can’t leave the house because the sun affects her skin so she’s stuck inside. The wounds are seeping all day and night so we have to put puppy pads on the pillow.

‘It’s never ending. It’s so hard. I’m trying to hold it together. I don’t know what will happen if it doesn’t get treated. I don’t wish it on my worst enemy.’

Kirsten first noticed the boils three months ago and assumed they’d clear up within a couple of weeks but two weeks ago, she noticed they were getting deeper and becoming more painful.

Kirsten first noticed the boils three months ago and assumed they’d clear up within a couple of weeks but two weeks ago, she noticed they were getting deeper and becoming more painful.

PG can be caused by a small wound, scratch or insect bite but Kirsten has no idea how she could have ended up with the disease.

She now has 18 sores covering most of her face.

Kirsten said: ‘When I first noticed the sores it just looked like a boil or spot as I’ve had them on my face in the past through my teenage years but they usually clear up within two weeks.

‘These seemed to keep growing and bursting and eventually they turned into holes and those holes grew bigger and bigger and have become what they are now. I felt scared that they wouldn’t stop growing and becoming more painful and deeper.’ 

PG can be caused by a small wound, scratch or insect bite but Kirsten has no idea how she could have ended up with the disease.

The pair are working to get in touch with a PG specialist who would be able to treat Kirsten’s sores. She is pictured three months ago when she first noticed the boils

The teen’s mum said: ‘I’ve never seen anything so severe in my life but we don’t know where it has come from because she hasn’t been bitten or scratched and she doesn’t have an immune system issue so there’s no reason for it to happen’

Kirsten added she was extremely sore and she’s in extreme pain and the wounds are seeping to the bottom of the bandages

The pair are working to get in touch with a PG specialist who would be able to treat Kirsten’s sores.

Allison said: ‘We haven’t had a diagnosis but the dermatologist has said that it looks like PG.

‘I’ve never seen anything so severe in my life but we don’t know where it has come from because she hasn’t been bitten or scratched and she doesn’t have an immune system issue so there’s no reason for it to happen.

‘It’s a case of trying to get a PG specialist to have a look at her but there are only two in Wales.’ 

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