Mum's foot is ravaged by flesh eating infection on holiday in Benidorm

Mother, 41, nearly loses her foot after it was ravaged by skin-rotting infection when she was bitten by an insect by the pool on holiday in Benidorm

  • Faye Wilkes, 41, sunbathing by pool when she felt sharp pain in her left foot 
  • Bite mark quickly turned red but she thought nothing of it until four days later 
  • Huge blisters formed on her feet, became infected and began rotting her limb
  • She was diagnosed with cellulitis after harmful bacteria entered bite on her foot 

Faye Wilkes, 41, almost lost her leg after being bitten by an unknown bug whilst on holiday in Benidorm

A mother almost lost her leg after a bacterial infection ravaged her foot when she was bitten by a bug on holiday in Benidorm. 

Faye Wilkes, 41, was sunbathing by the pool in June when she felt a sharp nip on her left foot.

A red mark instantly appeared, but the personal assistant thought nothing of it and sprayed herself with insect repellent to prevent further bites.

But that night Ms Wilkes, from Dartford in Kent, struggled to put weight on her foot and it began to break out in blisters and swell up.

Ms Wilkes claims she was turned away from a local hospital because medics thought she was a ‘typical drunk Brit’ with a sprained ankle. 

The mother cut short her week-long family break to seek medical help in the UK after the infection began to eat away at her entire foot. 

Upon arrival at Gatwick airport, she was rushed to hospital, where doctors told her she had contracted cellulitis, which had started to rot her skin.

The bacterial infection occurs when harmful bugs enter the bloodstream through a break in the skin, including cuts or bug bites.

Medics said it was likely from a spider bite, and, if left any longer, claim she could have died or been forced to have the limb amputated. 

The mother was sunbathing by the pool when she felt a sharp nip and she swiped a bug off her left foot. She cut her holiday short when her foot blistered and started to become infected (left before treatment, and right, after)

Medics told Ms Wilkes the bite was likely from a spider bite and if left any longer she may have been forced to undergo an amputation

After being pumped with seven different antibiotics and spending over four months in intensive care, the infection cleared up on its own.  

But Ms Wilkes is still traumatised by the ordeal and is recovering from her holiday nightmare at home. 

She said: ‘We recently lost our dad, Raymond to lung cancer and to cheer ourselves up, unwind and relax my sister, Carrie, and I booked a holiday.

‘We hoped to spend a week soaking up the sun and sipping cocktails, but it turned into a holiday from hell after I was bitten by an insect.

‘From the moment my leg began hurting, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t want to waste anybody’s time.

‘After it started scabbing and I had difficulty walking, I knew I needed to get help, but the Spanish doctors just fobbed me off as another “British drunk” – I was horrified.

‘I trusted my gut instinct and flew home straight away and I’m glad I did, as doctors in the UK said I would have died – or would have at least needed my limb amputated – if I didn’t get treatment within 24 hours.

‘Although I’m thankful I’ve been able to keep my leg, I’m still battling with the after affects that this mystery bug has left me, but I’m getting there – slowly but surely.’ 

Ms Wilkes was told by doctors in the UK that her infection had triggered sepsis – the body’s often deadly response to infection or injury. 

Sepsis kills and disables millions and requires early treatment for the best chance of survival.

The condition, an overreaction by the immune system which sees it attack healthy cells, made her dizzy and violently sick and caused her temperature to soar.  

Ms Wilkes said she initially dismissed her sore foot and presumed it would go away later that night.

She added: ‘I felt like I had been stabbed in my left leg. It instantly began burning up and I thought it was probably just a silly mosquito bite, so I went into the pool to cool it off.

‘But as I went in, my leg started to burn up more and my toes began bleeding, which I thought was odd, but dismissed it until the next morning, as I didn’t want to waste anybody’s time.’

After spending her evening walking about she had excruciating pain in her foot so she decided to go home early and wait until the next day to seek help.

She claims she was turned away from a hospital in Spain as medics thought she was a ‘typical drunk Brit’. Here she’s pictured with her sister Carrie in Benidorm before the ordeal

The mother had been lounging around the pool when she was bitten by a bug. A red mark instantly appeared, but she thought nothing of it and spritzed herself with insect repellent to prevent further bites

It was only when she began struggling to put weight on her foot, and the blisters turned green, four days into her trip  that she started to worry

She added: ‘I woke up in the middle of the night was shooting pain up and down my leg and when I tried to stand up to get to the bathroom, I collapsed on the floor.’

After suffering through the night, she called a taxi and went straight to hospital for an X-ray the following morning.

She said: ‘I was in so much pain and when the doctor came back to tell me the x-ray looked like I just had a sprained ankle, I was furious.

‘I think they thought I was just another British drunk who had fallen over, but even though I told them I hadn’t sprained it, they sent me back to the hotel with a pair of crutches.’

Ms Wilkes trusted her gut instinct and left her sister in Benidorm and flew home three days early, but had to be wheeled on to her flight. 

‘I was too weak to walk on my own and I began being sick every five minutes as I boarded the flight,’ she said.

Ms Wilkes was admitted to intensive care in Royal Surrey Hospital and diagnosed with cellulitis.

Her foot was covered in blisters, and doctors warned they may have to open up her leg and flush out the infection, or if that didn’t work – amputate her leg.

She said: ‘I was absolutely horrified, as I didn’t think a measly bite from a bug in Benidorm would result… in the loss of my leg.

She had booked the holiday with her sister Carrie to cheer themselves up after the death of their father Raymond, 66, to lung cancer (pictured together)

‘Luckily, they were able to flush out the infection without having to do any invasive surgery, but I still feel incredibly weak.

‘They couldn’t find the bug in my system, so were unable to work out which one caused me to have sepsis, but I’m glad that I went to the hospital when I did, as I was close to death.’

Doctors told Ms Wilkes that if hadn’t got to the hospital she could have been dead within 24 hours.

She said: ‘Although they got rid of the infection, my foot and leg is still scarred and my circulation is awful, so I have to keep it propped up near enough 24/7.

‘I think it was either a dirty spider or mosquito that brought this pain and distress upon me – but I will never know.’

‘The main thing is that I’m alive and I still have my left leg and foot – but I know I still have a long way to go until I’m out of the woods. I had to learn to walk again and build up my strength.’


What is cellulitis? 

Cellulitis is an infection that affects the skin and the tissue underneath.

The bacteria can enter the skin through an opening, such as cut, scrape, burn, or surgical incision, or a bug bite or sting.

Cellulitis can trigger sepsis in some people. Sepsis is the body’s often deadly response to infection or injury. Sepsis kills and disables millions and requires early suspicion and treatment for survival.

Where does cellulitis occur?

The infection is most common on the lower legs, but it can happen anywhere on the body. 

Symptoms of cellulitis:

– Redness around the area where the bacteria entered the skin

– Tenderness, soreness of the affected area

– Swelling

– Blisters

– Fever

Risk factors for cellulitis:

– People who have an impaired immune system are more vulnerable to contracting infections.

– Chronic illnesses such as diabetes can increase your risk of developing infections.

– Skin conditions or disorders can cause breaks in the skin where the bacteria can enter.  

– People who are obese have a higher risk of having cellulitis and of getting it again. 

– If you’ve had cellulitis before, you do have a higher risk of getting it again.


If you suspect you have cellulitis, see your doctor or nurse practitioner. If you are given antibiotics, it is vital that you take them as prescribed, right to the end of the prescription.

Source: Sepsis Alliance 

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