A loveable little boy can’t even give his mum a cuddle unless he’s wrapped up in bandages – because he’s allergic to hugs.
Little Freddie Algate suffers from a super-rare condition that causes his skin to peel off at the slightest touch – meaning his loving parents have to bandage him like a mummy before giving him a cuddle.
Anything from rough clothing to even the most delicate human touch can irritate the two-year-old’s skin and cause it to peel, leaving him covered in agonising sores.
Jenna and Nick Algate were shocked when their son Freddie was born without skin on his hands or feet.
The young lad was diagnosed with a serious form of rare condition Epidermolysis Bullosa – a group of genetic skin conditions which cause the skin can tear and blister at the slightest touch.
This means Freddie’s skin is incredibly fragile and he spends every day dressed head to toe in bandages.
Mum Jenna, 27, said: “It’s heart-breaking. Every mother yearns to cuddle their child but for Freddie that would mean huge amounts of pain.
“His skin is so fragile that it would come off in his mouth if he sucked his thumb.”
Freddie was born three weeks premature in July 2013 at Watford General Hospital.
As he was born with no skin on his hands or feet, his muscles were visible underneath.
Jenna said: “The doctors said that the friction caused by him kicking in the womb had worn away the skin.
“It was awful – you could see the bone sticking out of his ankle.”
Medics diagnosed Freddie with Dowling Meara – a form of EB.
Jenna and Nick, who live in Watford, Hertfordshire, were told that the condition is incurable, and Freddie would always be “extremely fragile”.
Nick said: “We knew then that we’ll never be able to give Freddie a big cuddle.
“He’ll never be able to play rough and tumble with his friends and his sister Sophie won’t be able to carry him around.
“It was a lot to take in.”
Dad Nick quit his job as a professional golfer to allow him to spend more time with his son, while mum Jenna became Freddie’s full-time carer.
Jenna says: “Freddie needs more time and attention that most toddlers.
“On a standard day I spend two hours undressing and redressing his bandages.
“He’s wrapped from the neck to the ankles in bandages 24/7 and I dress him in soft clothes worn inside out so the seams don’t hurt him.”
Jenna also has to spend an hour every day lancing Freddie’s blisters to stop them becoming bigger and more painful.
She said: “He can get up to 30 every day and they appear anywhere from his feet to his earlobes”.
In September 2015 Freddie started attending nursery school three mornings a week, bandaged “like a mummy” beneath his clothes.
Now Freddie has started walking but he needs constant supervision in case he injures himself – just tripping over could give him even more sores on his body.
Freddie’s dad, who now works at a printing company, is fundraising for EB charity Debra – which offers practical and emotional help to EB sufferers and their carers.
This month, Nick signed up for a Survival of the Fittest event – a gruelling 10km obstacle course – which is taking place in London in November.
He said: “Debra has provided us with a lot of support and advice on helping Freddie, so I’m fundraising for them.
“I’m getting up at 4am most mornings to hit the gym so it’s hard – but if I hit my fundraising target it’ll be worth it.”
So far, the couple, who also have seven-year-old daughter Sophie, have raised £50 towards their £2,000 target.
Nick said: “As there’s no cure for Freddie’s condition we’ll never know what it’s like to touch him without worrying.
“But we’re trying to give our fragile boy the best childhood possible.”
Anyone who wishes to donate to Nick‘s appeal can do so on his Just Giving site: https://www.justgiving.com/