General Health

Blistering Rash on Toddler’s Face is the Result of a Kiss

A mystery rash. What child hasn’t gotten one of those? In Sienna Duffield’s case what started as a simple rash turned much, much more. It’s every mum and child’s nightmare. 

When Sienna Duffield broke out in a blistering rash on her face, the doctors couldn’t diagnose the problem. The toddler’s rash started right after her 2nd birthday.

The longer the little girl had the rash, the worse it got. Not only did she have a rash, she had open sores that cracked and bled. Her clothes and bed sheets were often covered in blood – from the child’s face. Not only were the facial blisters itchy and painful, but they got in the way of her ability to eat. The doctors eventually had to place her on an IV drip, after she had stopped eating.

The doctors ran allergy test after allergy test, finding absolutely nothing. There were thoughts that the girl had eczema (it would obviously be an extreme case). But, that wasn’t it. Sienna’s face was covered with so many blisters that her family were anxious to take her out of the house. People stared and openly commented on the girl’s condition. The not-so-nice words from strangers made it a challenge to do anything other than stay home.

coldsores child

Obviously, the family was frustrated. Their daughter’s condition wasn’t getting better, and the little girl was suffering. Her mother, Savina French-Bell, tried to think of anything that might have led to her daughter’s odd reaction. Eight months after the rash initially started, French-Bell remembered something. A relative had given Sienna a kiss on her birthday – right before the rash started. The relative had the herpes virus which is commonly known as cold sores.

toddler and mom
Photo: Caters News Agency

Following the diagnosis doctors were able to treat Sienna with a medication that worked for her condition. The blisters cleared up, and Sienna now looks like nothing ever happened. Of course, there is always a possibility that the rash and blisters will come back. Herpes is a virus that isn’t ‘cured’ by medications. Even though it may clear up for long periods of time, a herpes infection can always erupt again.

Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV1) is spread through direct contact or infected saliva. The most obvious signs are ulcers and blisters on and around the mouth. In Sienna’s case, these were extreme.

What’s the lesson to learn from Sienna’s story? Be wary of anyone who kisses your child. It’s all too common for friends and relatives to give children little kisses. In most cases there’s nothing wrong with grandma giving a little kiss. But, when the relative has herpes things can get serious – and quickly. If you have any cause to think that a relative/friend has herpes, ask them not to kiss your child.

It may not be comfortable to stop an aunt, uncle or close family friend from giving your little one a quick kiss. But, it’s even less comfortable for your child to potentially get a blister-causing virus as a result of it.

Need cold sore remedies? Here’s Mum Central’s advice on how to stop them in their tracks! 

Avatar of Erica Loop

Erica Loop is a mum, parenting writer and educator with an MS in child development. Along with writing for websites such as PBS Parents,, Scary Mommy,, Modern Mom, and others, she also is the creator of a kids' activities and art blog.

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