Girl, 9, slowly 'turning to stone' as rare illness leaves her covered in rock-hard blisters
A NINE-year-old girl is suffering from a rare skin disorder that is gradually turning her skin into stone.
Rajeshwari, from Chhattisgarh, India was born with an extremely rare skin condition called Ichthyosis that causes stone-like blisters to form all over her body.
The excruciating blisters cover most of her body including her arms, legs, hands and feet – making it painful for her to walk or even sit.
The agonising condition makes it impossible for her to do daily tasks such as taking a bath.
Ichthyosis is an incurable disease that causes reddening, scaling and severe blistering of the skin.
It attacks the process of skin regeneration in the human body, making the outer skin hard and flaky.
The heartbreaking story of Rajeshwari is exasperated by locals and youngsters shunning the young girl.
Footage from YouTube channel Truly's 'Born Different' series followed the family as they were able to visit a specialist in hope of easing Rajeshwari's condition.
Her uncle, Kala Ram, told Truly: "Parents don't let children go to Rajeshwari's house because they tell them they might also get her disease.
"We want people to treat her like any other child and not get scared of her disease."
Rajeshwari's family first started noticing boils on her skin at aged four, but they could not understand what it was.
Doctors have been unable to treat her condition, or even provide a proper diagnosis for the unusual disease.
Only 24 cases have been reported worldwide, and the rarity of the condition makes research difficult.
Medicines prescribed can only hinder the growth of the blisters, but have severe side effects.
'There has not been any major breakthrough in terms of research. Currently, science has no cure for this ailment,' said Dr Satyaki Ganguly of the All India Institute of Medical Science in Raipur.
Sufferers are prone to skin infections due to the cracking and splitting of the skin and overheating due to the reduced ability to produce sweat.
It can even impair vision and hearing if the skin builds up over the ears and eyes.
"ONE OF THE MOST SEVERE"
Living in the remote tribal district of Dantewada means health care is even harder to access, as she has to make the gruelling journey to the city for treatment.
The video shows the fragile nine-year-old struggling to walk, and being seated in a wheelchair when she arrives at the hospital.
Rajeshwari visited the district hospital with her mother in the hope of alleviating some of the worst symptoms.
Dr. Yasha Upendva described the case as "one of the most severe", explaining a biopsy had found that this was Ichthyosis Hystrix – an even rarer form of the disease.
"The outer layer of her skin is made up of dead skin. This dead tissue layer is formed excessively, and this happens due to mutations and gene levels.
"She also suffers from a vitamin D deficiency, and the patient can have malnutrition due to a formation of thick tissue causing impairment in the movement of the patient."
Dr. Upendva suggested a soap free cleanser and a salt water bath to moisturise the hard skin, before applying a thick emollient based moisturiser to remove the dead skin.
She also prescribed Rajeshwari a vitamin A retinoid and vitamin D.
"One thing I'm really concerned about is her psychological development.
"Since she is suffering from a condition that makes her look a little odd amongst her friends, one thing that is very important is continued psychological support which we can arrange certain counselling sessions."
Although there is no cure for the condition, her family are hopeful the new treatments will ease some of her symptoms.
Her uncle said: "Whether she heals or not we will continue her treatment and will follow the advice of doctors."
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