Flesh-eating ulcers left me looking like I’ve been shot – I felt so ugly I dumped my boyfriend

A TEENAGER has been left looking like she’s been shot in the face after flesh-eating ulcers have ravaged it.

Kirsten Cowell, from Ammanford, Wales, has watched her face progressively become covered in 2cm deep sores over the course of a few months.


Photos show the gaping holes in her face that scab over into huge blackened pieces of flesh. 

The 19-year-old said she felt “so ugly” she dumped her boyfriend of two-and-a-half years and moved in with her mum, Allison, 47, who cares for her full time. 

Kirsten said: "I had to leave the relationship for my own mental health. It wasn't fair on him to manage me like this.

"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.

"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.

"I can't manage to do anything at all anymore.”

Stay-at-home mum Allison says her daughter is in extreme pain and needs her wounds dressed once a day. She wears puppy pads at night to soak up the weeping pus from her face.

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.”

Kirsten was due to start a nail technician course but now rarely leaves the house due.

She is forced to eat a diet of yoghurt, ice cream and soup as moving her face to chew is so painful.

Allison said: “She's too nervous to even have a shower.

"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 began to notice her skin changing three months ago, but expected what were just spots at the time to disappear on their own. 

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."




Doctors suspect she has pyoderma gangrenosum (PG), a rare and non-contagious skin condition.

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. 

But Kirsten has no idea how she could have ended up with the condition – as half of cases have no known cause. 

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

Allison said: "She's got 18 all together but they join onto each other to make one big wound.

"They are 2cm deep and one on her cheek is as big as a 50 pence piece."

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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