Last week, Darian Depreta was playing with her baby daughter, Bella, when she noticed something very strange: the roof of the girl's mouth was black, with a large, sinister-looking mark spread across her palate.
"I try wiping it to see if it would come off, and it didn't," the mother of two from North Carolina explained in a Facebook post.
Now in a panic, Depreta immediately called her partner, her mother, and her best friend. What was the strange spot inside the little girl's mouth?
From the photo Depreta took of the unusual mark, it's difficult to tell what it might be. The blackened skin doesn't really look like a bruise, or like the kind of inflammation you might get from an allergic reaction.
Usually, when we see pictures of blackened skin, it points to pretty dire medical situations, such as having a necrotic lesion, where the cells of the tissue have died and turned dark as a result.
This sort of tissue death can be caused by a range of things, including blood vessel damage and toxins produced by bacteria or from venomous bites.
So it's no wonder the dark patch looked alarming, although we're not implying the mother had anything so drastic on her mind when she took her child to the doctor. There, the nurse practitioner also tried to wipe at the strange black mark to see if it might come off, but again with no luck.
"[The nurse] said she had never seen anything like it," Depreta writes in her post, which ended up going viral.
Unable to determine what the strange patch was, the doctors decided to escalate the matter. Depreta was told that Bella would be set up with two specialists who would investigate whatever this was inside her daughter's mouth.
At this point, Depreta and the nurse were still peering at Bella's palate, when they made a sudden breakthrough.
"I point out it looks a little white on the side and she really gets in there trying to scrape it," Depreta explains.
"ONLY TO FIND OUT IT WAS CARDBOARD FROM A BOX BELLA CHEWED STUCK TO THE ROOF OF HER MOUTH."
As luck would have it, this bizarre black spot was no malignant abnormality, but just a piece of soft, moistened cardboard that had become completely glued to the top of Bella's mouth.
It turns out that as Depreta was loading the dishwasher, her baby daughter – who is teething and chews basically anything she can get her tiny hands on – happened upon a cardboard box.
While Depreta took the box away from Bella, the little girl managed to get away with at least one piece of soggy cardboard still in her mouth, which became firmly lodged with saliva against her palate (and with enough adhesion that it obviously couldn't be dislodged without significant effort).
Once it was successfully removed, Depreta posted a photo of this cardboard invader on Facebook: the source of so much worry and concern, which thankfully became a symbol of joy, relief, and hilarity.
"I can never show my face in that office again," Depreta writes. "I cried/laughed for a solid five minutes straight."
Meanwhile, if this false alarm has made you worried about necrosis, keep in mind it's usually accompanied by a serious smell.