Toddler has such bad eczema strangers ask if he’s a BURNS victim

Toddler has such bad eczema strangers ask if he’s a BURNS victim and he ‘only sleeps for four hours a night’ because of the constant itching

  • Theo Burchell developed patches of red, itchy skin at just six months old
  • The now two-year-old claws at his skin every night until it bleeds
  • His mother Hannah Burchell even had to call 999 when he was screaming in pain

A toddler has such severe eczema strangers assume he is a burns victim, according to his mother. 

Theo Burchell developed patches of red, itchy skin at just six months old, with it spreading to his entire face and body within weeks. 

His mother Hannah Burchell claims the now two-year-old is in such severe pain he claws at his skin until it bleeds and has never slept for more than four hours a night.

The 26-year-old, from Bristol, even had to call 999 when her son was screaming in agony, with Theo then spending five days hooked up to drugs. 

After trying numerous treatments with no luck, Mrs Burchell is desperate for her son to be cured before he starts school in 2022 because she’s afraid he will be bullied.

Theo Burchell has such severe eczema strangers ask if he is a burns victim. The two-year-old is pictured at Bristol Children’s Hospital last year after his condition became so agonising he was screaming for help. Theo was so distressed he could not even catch his breath

His mother Hannah Burchell (pictured with Theo and his five-week-old brother Bobby) feels the youngster has few treatment options left, after prescribed creams and steroids had no effect

Theo’s flare-ups leave him covered from head-to-toe in a red, itchy rash (pictured)

Speaking of her son’s condition, Mrs Burchell said: ‘To see him suffering like that breaks my heart.  

‘It’s horrific. It has taken a part of his childhood away from him. He is missing out on a lot. It has just taken over his life.

‘He has no idea why he is in so much pain. It’s upsetting to see.’ 

Mrs Burchell first took Theo to the GP in March 2017 when she noticed he was suffering from small rashes.

The doctor reassured the mother-of-two eczema is a common condition and she should simply moisturise Theo’s skin.

However, the youngster soon developed huge scabs all over his body.

The GP later prescribed a series of different lotions but they had little effect.

Mrs Burchell, who takes Theo to the GP up to twice a month, said: ‘He was just getting worse. It got to the point where he was waking up to scratch and he was making his skin bleed.

‘He was constantly itching and it stopped him being able to do most things. We tried to dress him in long sleeve clothes to stop him but it didn’t work.’

Theo is pictured left during his stint in hospital, where he spent five days receiving antiviral medication. His scabby skin (seen right) often oozes, causing his clothes to stick

The youngster’s back is also ‘really rough’ and ‘covered in scabs’ (pictured)

Theo (pictured left with his father Lee Burchell) shares a bedroom with his parents, who soothe him back to sleep when he wakes pain. Eczema also causes Theo’s face to peel (seen right)

Theo was eventually referred to a dermatologist at Bristol Children’s Hospital last September, who prescribed a steroid cream.

But even the stronger treatment did little to ease the youngster’s discomfort, with him later developing eczema herpeticum.

Eczema herpeticum is a dangerous viral infection that can spread to large areas of the skin. It is more common in those with the skin condition. 

Although he pulled through that particular ordeal, Theo still suffers from extreme flare-ups, which once landed him in hospital.  

‘We had no option but to phone 999,’ Mrs Burchell said. ‘He was screaming “help, help, it hurts”.

‘His skin was seeping and his clothes were sticking to him. He couldn’t catch his breath he was screaming that much.

‘The blisters were oozing and he was inconsolable. He was crying so much he couldn’t swallow and could barely breathe.’

The youngster was rushed to A&E in Bristol, where he spent five days receiving antiviral medication.  

‘They had to give him morphine in the ambulance he was in that much pain,’ Mrs Burchell said. ‘It had me in tears to see him like that.’

Theo’s parents (pictured together leftr) are desperate for their son to find some relief before he starts school in 2022. They worry the scabby, peeling skin that covers his body (pictured right on his lower back) will cause the youngster to be bullied

Theo does not understand why his scabby, inflamed skin (pictured left and right) causes him so much pain. The youngster can be inconsolable and even hyperventilate from the discomfort


Eczema is an inflammatory condition of the skin that leads to redness, blistering, oozing, scaling and thickening.

It usually appears in the first few months of life and affects around 10 per cent of babies.

Eczema’s cause is not fully understood but it is thought to be brought on by the skin’s barrier to the outside world not working properly, which allows irritants and allergy-inducing substances to enter.

It may be genetic due to the condition often running in families.

As well as their skin being affected, sufferers may experience insomnia and irritability.

Many factors can make eczema worse. These may include:

  • Heat, dust, soap and detergents
  • Being unwell, such as having a cold
  • Infections
  • Dry skin
  • Stress

There is no cure for eczema, however, 70 per cent of childhood sufferers no longer have the condition in their teens.

Patients should avoid known triggers for flare ups and use emollients.

Source: British Skin Foundation 

Now back at home, Theo shares a room with Mrs Burchell and her husband Lee, 36, who soothe him back to sleep every night.  

‘He’s so frightened and wakes up screaming in a panic,’ Mrs Burchell said. 

‘When he’s up in the night he would just scratch more. 

‘He barely sleeps. He gets no more than a couple of hours every night.

‘We are up with him four or five times every night. 

‘It has left us constantly exhausted and it is emotionally draining.’

Mrs Burchell, who is also mother to five-week-old Bobby, tries to manage her son’s condition as best she can, but it does little good. 

‘His skin is really rough and covered in scabs,’ she said. 

‘He screams “stop” when we put the cream on because it’s too painful.’

Cruel strangers often ask Mrs Burchell ‘what’s wrong?’ with Theo, with some even questioning whether he has been burnt.      

With the youngster due to start school in two years, Mrs Burchell feels his treatment options are running out.

She also worries he will be bullied over his appearance if his eczema does not improve. 

‘I have no idea if he will be able to manage at school,’ she said. ‘What if he doesn’t stop scratching and what if he gets bullied?

‘It has stopped him from seeing friends but we are trying to treat him as a normal child. He loves being outside to play.’ 

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