A mum is warning parents to be careful letting their children play on the beach barefoot due after her toddler's toe became so horrifically infected it was flayed and almost amputated.
Little Aria McCart's left big toe began to leak puss and swell to over twice its normal size, appearing 'adult-sized' on her tiny, 18-month-old foot, following a family day out to Ardrossan beach, in Scotland.
The youngster was hospitalised and quarantined for two nights with a fever and agonising pain from the swelling – resulting in the emergency removal of the skin on her toe and part of her foot.
Mum Amy-leigh Cavanagh, 26, believes her daughter's mystery infection might have come from dog urine left on the beach.
Other suspects are human urine, unknown chemicals, or even fish bite poison getting in a tiny cut on her daughter's toe on the sandy beach.
And now, with Aria still in pain and struggling to walk more than two weeks after her beach trip, Amy-leigh is urging people to take care and wear shoes when playing outdoors.
"Aria was playing away in and out of the water. She had no shoes on, she was having an absolute ball. She had sand everywhere, it was in her eye lashes and everywhere so when we got home I gave her a bath.
"When I picked her up I could feel her body was on fire, even though she was just out of the bath, I could tell it wasn't right.
"Her lips had started going a bit blue and she was moaning and started crying. This was about two hours after we got back from the beach.
Things got worse a few days later when she noticed her daughter was limping and her toe was bruised and red, it later swelled up and they went to hospital.
She says surgeons swiftly decided that an operation was necessary to stem the 'poison' from tracking further into the little girl's body and to save her toe.
And the shocked mum claims she was stunned to learn from doctors that her daughter's dangerous infection could well have been thanks to her innocently playing in sand and sea water with bare feet.
"They were asking me all sorts of crazy questions like had she been into contact with any chemicals or anything. They weren't 100 per cent sure what the infection was,” she said.
"When we saw the main doctor he thought about the beach. He said anything could be in the sand. It could have been a bite, chemicals or even dog urine, that's got through a tiny cut.
"Something had got into it that's poisonous. When they operated they had to remove all the skin from her toe and part of her foot where the infection was.
After two nights in hospital, Aria could thankfully return home, but according to Amy-leigh her little one still can’t walk on her foot.
"It's upsetting. It was horrible. I didn't know something like that could happen. I just want to raise some awareness.
"If people are on beaches with dogs too, they probably don't realise as well what their dogs' urine could do."
- With reporting by Caters News