A little boy suffers from a rare condition which means his skin is so painfully sore it looks as though he’s a burn victim.
Adorable Geraint Burns, from Neath, South Wales, has such delicate skin that it erupts in agonizing blisters if he gets too warm or gets rubbed or knocked.
The 18-month-old tot’s skin is so red and sore that worried strangers will question whether the tot has been burnt – forcing mum Angharard to hand out leaflets explaining his condition.
Devoted Angharard, 27, said: “It’s frightening how many people just assume his skin is a result of something I have done wrong.
“I’ve even made cards that I hand out to people who stare at us in the street to educate them about the condition.
“Geraint reacts really badly to changes in temperatures so I have to be extremely careful when we go out.
“I have to leave his top off sometimes in supermarkets when we go shopping so his body doesn’t over heat.
“People always stare at his skin and I’ve overheard women before whispering about how cold it is and how cruel I must be to not make him wear a t-shirt.”
Little Geraint suffers from diffuse cutaneous mastocytosis – a condition where the skin is thickened and easily blistered. It affects just one in half a million people worldwide.
People often stare and mistake Geraint’s blistered skin for sunburn – assuming Angharad does not properly care for him.
Angharad said: “When Geraint was born his tiny body was covered in blisters and a rash.
“The doctors thought he might have had an infection so he was taken straight to the ICU.
“I was completely overwhelmed and in a state of shock – my pregnancy was great and I’d had a reasonably easy labor so why was my baby’s skin so sore?
“I started blaming myself – I was sick with worry. I was advised not to eat peanut butter throughout my pregnancy but I had and I kept thinking it could be the cause.
“The dermatologist came to have a look at him and thought it might be mastocytosis so he did a skin biopsy.
“When doctors confirmed it was diffuse cutaneous mastocytosis I was devastated – the whole process was a complete blur, I’d never heard of anything like it.
“I was so frightened all I wanted to do was give my baby a cuddle but it would be too painful for his fragile skin.
“I have to be really careful when I hold him because his skin blisters so easily.
“Even breastfeeding was a struggle, it would make his body over heat and he would itch constantly.
“Now, Geraint will scream for hours but I just have to sit with him and wait until he calms down – I can’t pick him up like other mothers would because it only makes him worse.”
The condition can even cause anaphylactic shock – a severe and potentially life threatening reaction.
The unusual condition is caused by the accumulation of mast cells in the skin. Mast cells contain substances such as histamine that regulate allergic reactions.
Geraint has a bad reaction to most fruits and vegetables that contain high levels of histamine, including strawberries and tomatoes.
Angharad said: “Geraint has to take his medication at least four times a day otherwise he can become extremely poorly.
“As Geraint was born with the condition he is one of the lucky ones and will hopefully grow out of it by the time he’s seven or eight.
“My dream is to be able to take him on a sunny holiday somewhere and for him to enjoy the heat like any other child.
“I’ve been fundraising for the UK Mastocytosis Support Group with an aim is to raise awareness and to raise money to fund research.”
Irene Wilson, the group leader at the UK Mastocytosis Support Group, says: “With Mastocytosis the body produces too many mast cells. Mast cells are found throughout the body in health and have beneficial effects on wound healing and immunity.
“They can also cause disease by becoming involved in allergic reactions.
“A child’s symptoms vary from child to child and can include itching, flushing, hives, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, GI hemorrhage, bone pain, headache and irritability.
“Many doctors have never seen a case of mastocytosis, and even some specialists might not recognize the condition.”
Currently there is no cure for mastocytosis, however there are options for treating the symptoms of the disease. No one treatment is successful in all children.
The cause is unknown and familial cases are rare.