Warning: graphic images below A six-year-old girl has been left with severe scars across her face after playing around with hand sanitiser that caught fire. Izabella Reaume had been playing with a group of children in her family’s front garden in Toledo, in the US state of Ohio, when one of the children lit a small puddle of it which had been squirted near her. It set ablaze and caught her face, leaving seeping wounds from ear-to-ear across her lower face.
She was rushed to hospital and, while luckily avoiding the need for skin grafts, was unable to look in the mirror for months and is still terrified of her schoolmates seeing her scars. Her mother Larrissa Schaffenberg, 29, said she had left the kids with a childminder while she went to work but received a panicked call 45 minutes later telling her her daughter had been burned. She said: ‘My heart sank and I began to panic, I left work right away and made my way to meet them at the hospital.
‘Izabella had been playing out in the front garden, with her big brother, her cousin and one of the neighbour’s kids, as she always did. They were messing around with some hand sanitiser that had been laying around because we were using it all the time to protect against Covid 19. ‘They were playing around and squirting it about, and some was squirted on to the front porch ledge. One of the neighbour’s kid had a lighter and lit it. It set ablaze and caught Izabella’s face.
The youngster’s wounds look sore and raw immediately after their twice-daily cleaning (Picture: Caters) Izabella was terrified to look in the mirror for more than three months, her mum said (Picture: Caters)
Larrissa added: ‘When we arrived at the hospital, I carried her in my arms. When I saw what had happened to her face I was devastated. My beautiful baby girl, how could this have happened to her?’ After leaving the hospital, Larrissa has to clean her daughter’s wounds twice a day, reapply the gauze, and make sure she wears a pressure garment on her face for 23 hours a day. She continued: ‘The pressure garment is hopefully going to help press and flatten Izabella’s scars so that her face heals as best it can. She may have to wear this for the next couple of years, it just depends on how quickly her little body repairs.
‘She does not need any skin grafts which is lucky. Her scars have come a long way so far, they have now all closed up. In the beginning, they were open and constantly seeping.
‘It is heartbreaking, my little girl thinks she is ugly now. I have to tell her every day that she is beautiful and that you do not have to look the same as everyone else to be gorgeous, but a lot of the time she does not believe me. ‘Some days are better than others, one day she will try and ignore the scars, and the next day she will be extremely upset and thinking that she is hideous again.’ The 29-year-old said online schooling due to Covid was a relief for her daughter, who keeps her webcam turned off so her classmates can’t see her.
‘I am just so shocked that hand sanitiser could cause such damage, I did not know it could blow up like that. It has been so traumatic for Izabella, I feel terrible that this has happened to her. ‘She has shown she is such a strong little girl and I know that she will be okay in the end, as time goes on things are getting a little easier.’