Teenager’s face ravaged by rare flesh-eating ulcers

The girl’s confidence sunk so low, she broke up with her boyfriend of two and a half years.

A teenage girl has developed a rareskin condition that has left her face covered in gaping sores. Kirsten Cowell, 19, has been struggling for months with the mystery condition, which has left her with painful, two-centimetre-deep holes that ooze pus.

Shot in the face

Kirsten from Ammanford, Wales, has watched her face progressively deteriorate over the course of a few months. She first started to notice painful, pus-filled boils appearing on her face three months ago, but expected them to disappear on their own.

But she now has scabs and holes -18 in total- across her entire face. Her confidence sunk so low, she had to break up with her boyfriend.

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

She has to wear puppy pads at night to soak up the weeping pus from her face. Kirsten lives with her stay-at-home mum Allison, who 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.
Kirsten had to leave her boyfriend as her confidence sunk. Kennedy News and Media

The Diagnosis

Although she is yet to get an official diagnosis, doctors suspect what she has is a rare skin condition called pyoderma gangrenosum (PG).

It starts by causing a small spot or blood blister which progresses quickly, turning into a painful ulcer or several.

PG can be caused by a small wound, scratch or insect bite and can be linked with diseases such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis or blood cancers.

Kirsten is clueless as to how she may have got the condition. Half of PG cases have no known causes.

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.

She is on a course of antibiotics and steroids and had surgery on Friday to remove the 18 scabs and clean the wounds. They are hoping to soon get in touch with a PG specialist who can treat Kirsten’s condition.

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