A new mother has been left scarred for life by an allergic reaction – to her own baby.
Zuleika Closs, 26, developed a burning, itchy rash all over her body while pregnant with her son Emmanuel.
Baffled doctors wrongly diagnosed her with a severe case of scabies, and one former nurse even suggested she bathe in bleach to get rid the infectious skin disease.
Four months after giving birth, the rash is now fading, but she will be left with the scarring on her body.
Closs is thought to have Pemphigoid gestationis, which is caused by placenta tissue entering the mother’s blood stream and reacting with her immune system. It is believed to affect one in two million pregnancies worldwide.
“At first, it felt like something was crawling on my skin but then it became unbearable," said Closs, from Falmouth, Cornwall. “My feet were the worst. I scratched so hard that large chunks of skin kept falling off. It was peeling off like orange peel.”
Closs noticed the rash when she was 20 weeks pregnant and was given antibiotics by a doctor.
Closs' boyfriend, Nathan Darbyshire, 23, a care worker, lost shifts at work because he didn’t want to pass the scabies on to colleagues and patients.
And, she was too scared even to hold her newborn baby, fearing she might pass the rash onto him.
After Emmanuel was born, Closs saw another doctor, who said it was an autoimmune pregnancy disorder.
“I couldn’t believe what he was saying. I was allergic to my pregnancy," Closs said. "It just sounded bizarre."