The human body is an amazing creation. It can do amazing feats that science sometimes can’t explain. Some good and some bad. Just like these bizarre and shocking medical conditions. No one would have thought that these conditions exists and are even possible. These aren’t your average run-of-the-mill common colds or a simple cough. They’re so bizarre some of their names are so difficult to pronounce or have even no proper name. We just feel bad for the people afflicted with these conditions. Most of it doesn’t have a cure so we could only imagine the agony these people have to go through. Seeing these conditions makes you want to thank how lucky you are to be healthy. So the next time you pass by a stranger or see someone bizarre looking be kind, you don’t know the battle they’re going through.
Hypertrichosis is an abnormal amount of hair growth over the body. Severe cases have been even called werewolf syndrome because their appearance is similar to the mythical werewolf. Shaving it off will only be temporary as the hair will just grow back. Several circus sideshow performers in the 19th and early 20th century had hypertrichosis and many of them worked as freaks wherein they were promoted as having distinct human and animal traits. But these two guys doesn’t seem to mind at all as they are all smiles for the camera.
Agent Orange or Herbicide Orange is one of the herbicides or defoliants used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. It is a mixture of equal parts of two herbicides but was contaminated with an extremely toxic dioxin compound. The chemical was sprayed on crops, plants, and trees by U.S. military to destroy cover for guerrilla fighters. But it also contaminated the soil, water, and produce of the locals. The photos above are just some of the devastating health effects of the toxic compound. Even four decades after the war, the effects can still be traced.
Cotard Delusion or Cotard’s Syndrome is a rare mental illness where the afflicted individual believes that he is already dead or has lost their internal organs. Just like a walking corpse or zombie. A mild case is characterized by despair and self-loathing, and a severe case is characterized by intense delusions of negation and chronic psychiatric depression. The disorder can easily lead to unintentional suicides and oftentimes it is brought about by a brain injury and can result in people believing themselves to be immortal.
Cutaneous horns are unusual keratinous skin tumors with the appearance of horns, or sometimes of wood or coral. They are usually small and localized, but in very rare cases be much larger. Although often benign, they can also be malignant or premalignant. It is believed that exposure to radiation can trigger the abnormal growth but the real cause is still unknown. This is evidenced by a higher rate of cases occurring on the face and hands, areas that are often exposed to sunlight. Other cases have reported cutaneous horns arising from burn scars.
Epidermodysplasia verruciformis or also called Lewandowsky-Lutz dysplasia is commonly referred to as the tree man illness. It is an extremely rare genetic hereditary skin disorder associated with a high risk of carcinoma of the skin. The uncontrolled HPV infections result in the growth of scaly macules and papules, particularly on the hands and feet. The growths could be surgically removed but they’ll eventually come back. There is still no known cure for this rare disease.
Blaschko’s lines or Lines of Blaschko are lines of normal cell development in the skin. Under normal conditions, these lines are invisible. They become visible when some diseases of the skin manifest themselves according to these patterns. They follow a “V” shape over the back, “S” shaped whirls over the chest, and sides, and wavy shapes on the head. The lines can be observed in other animals such as cats and dogs.
According to a report, an 87-year-old Swiss woman sought medical help when she developed painful spasms in her chest shortly after eating. Because of this, the elderly woman lost 11 pounds in the past several months because of difficulty eating. Her doctors performed an endoscopy and found that every time she swallowed, her esophagus twisted like a corkscrew. Although the condition is unusual, it has been encountered before. Another elderly woman aged 89-years-old, who complained of difficulty swallowing, abdominal pain and frequent belching, also turned out to have her esophagus twisting into a corkscrew when she swallowed, according to a 2003 case report in the same journal.
Visual release hallucinations or Charles Bonnet Syndrome is described as the experience of complex visual hallucinations in a person with partial or severe blindness. One characteristic of these hallucinations is that they are usually “lilliputian” (characters or objects are smaller than normal). The most common hallucination is of faces or cartoons. Patients affected are mentally healthy people and understand that the hallucinations are not real. The hallucinations are only visual and do not occur in any other senses.
It’s not everyday that you see a man having an ice bath and doesn’t seem to get cold at all. This Dutch man named Wim Hof is a daredevil. He is commonly nicknamed “The Iceman” for his ability to withstand extreme cold. The Iceman holds 20 world records including a world record for longest ice bath. He describes his ability as being able to “turn his own thermostat up” through breathing exercises. Although this may not be an illness, it’s very rare for a human being to be able to do this. And please don’t try this at home.
You’ve probably seen a person with this disorder. Their skin is extremely pale or white and hair is also almost white too. Their eye color is either very light or red. The condition is due to lack of pigments. They may loo different but albinism itself does not cause mortality, although the lack of pigment blocking UV radiation increases the risk of skin cancers and other problems.
Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder is also known as restless genital syndrome. The condition results in a spontaneous, persistent, and uncontrollable genital arousal, with or without genital engorgement, which unrelated to any feelings of carnal desire. The arousal in this syndrome can be very intense and persist for extended periods, days or weeks at a time. It is common for sufferers to lose some or all sense of pleasure over time as release becomes associated with relief from pain rather than the experience of pleasure.
Cronkhite–Canada syndrome is a rare syndrome characterized by multiple polyps of the digestive tract. The syndrome doesn’t seem to be a hereditary disease and its cause still remains unknown. The possibility that the polyps could progress to cancer is considered to be low, although it has been reported multiple times in the past. Aside from multiple polyps in the small and large intestine, hair loss, wasting of the nails and skin pigmentation is also seen. About two-thirds of patients are of Japanese descent and the male to female ratio is 2:1.
Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva is an extremely rare disease. It is caused by a mutation of the body’s repair mechanism, which causes soft tissues (including muscle, tendon, and ligament) to fossilize spontaneously or when damaged. In most cases, injuries can cause joints to become permanently frozen in place. Even surgery won’t help because the body just “repairs” the affected are with more bone. Patients are slowly imprisoned by their own skeletons making them appear stone-like. The disease is sometimes called Stone Man Syndrome.
Filariasis is a parasitic infection caused by an infection with roundworms. The parasites enter the bloodstream through a blood-feeding black flies and mosquitoes. Once the infected insects bite on their host, the worms thrive on the lymphatic system including the lymph nodes. In severe cases, it can lead to elephantiasis which is the severe swelling of the arms, legs, and even genitals.
Trichotillomania or pulling disorder is an impulse control disorder represented by the compulsive urge to pull one’s hair until it leads to hair loss and balding. It is often chronic and difficult to treat. Common areas for hair to be pulled out are the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, legs, arms, hands, nose and the pubic areas. The disorder is often not a focused act, but rather hair pulling occurs in a “trance-like” state which is why many patients may not realize they are pulling their hair and patients presenting for diagnosis may deny the criteria for tension prior to hair pulling or a sense of gratification after hair is pulled.
A hemangioma is one of the most common benign tumors of infancy. But sometimes adults can have it too and it can grow huge and disproportionate in size. Just like this man’s condition. It covered and distorted his entire face. It is possible to surgically remove such growths but this man’s condition is just too complicated. Fortunately for him, there are still people who genuinely cares for him.
Alien Hand Syndrome is a rare neurological disorder that causes hand movement without the person being aware of what is happening or having control over the affected hand. The patient may sometimes reach for objects and handle them without wanting to do so. It even comes to a point of having to use the controllable hand to restrain the alien hand. The condition is seen in cases where a person has had the two sides of their brain was surgically separated, a procedure sometimes used to relieve the symptoms of extreme cases of epilepsy. It also occurs in some cases after brain surgery, stroke, infection, tumor, aneurysm and specific degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.
Proteus Syndrome or also known as Wiedemann syndrome is an extremely rare congenital disorder that causes an overgrowth of skin, bones, muscles, fatty tissues, and blood and lymphatic vessels. It is often accompanied by tumors over half the body. Only a few more than 200 cases have been confirmed worldwide, with estimates that about 120 people are currently alive with the condition. Those most readily diagnosed are also the most severely disfigured. Proteus syndrome is also named after the Greek sea-god Proteus, who could change his shape.
Not all things that look like tails are actually “true” tails. There are a number of growths or cysts that can form right on the tip of the tailbone but no modern tails have been found to have any bone tissue. They’re mostly composed of skin with fat, connective tissue, nerves, and muscle tissue. They can also be just a stub, but some babies can be born with tails 13 centimeters long. The tails aren’t strictly useless immovable structures because they have muscle tissue inside and they can actually be twitched back and forth, or even contracted into curves. Removing them is a simple operation, usually done not long after birth.
Progeria is an extremely rare genetic disorder where patients affected show symptoms of aging at a very early age. Believe it or not, the boy in the photo is 14-years-old. The disorder has a very low incidence rate, occurring in an estimated 1 per 8 million live births. Those born with progeria typically live to their mid teens and latest till their early twenties. The oldest known survivor is Birmingham-born Dean Andrews who is 21-years-old.
Neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder of the nervous system. It primarily affects how nerve cells form and grow. It causes tumors to grow on nerves. The disorder can be passed on from parents to children, or it can happen because of a mutation in your genes. But once you have it, you can pass it along to your children. Usually, the tumors are benign, but sometimes they can become cancerous. The man in the photo has a severe case of the disorder.
Polymelia is a birth defect affecting the limbs in which the affected individual has more than the usual number of limbs. The extra limb is most commonly shrunken and/or deformed. Sometimes an embryo started as conjoined twins, but one twin degenerated completely except for one or more limbs, which end up attached to the other twin. Or sometimes there is an abnormal development of the legs in the womb where the legs become duplicated.
Necrotizing fasciitis or commonly known as the flesh-eating disease is a serious bacterial skin infection that spreads quickly and kills the body’s soft tissue. If not diagnosed and treated promptly it can become life-threatening in a short amount of time. This rare disease can be caused by more than one type of bacteria. Sometimes toxins made by these bacteria destroy the tissue they infect, causing it to die. When this happens, the infection is very serious and can result in loss of limbs or death. People who have poor immunity are most at risk for this deadly infection.
Parry–Romberg syndrome also known as progressive hemifacial atrophy is a rare disease that causes progressive shrinkage and degeneration of the tissues beneath the skin, usually on only one side of the face (hemifacial atrophy) but occasionally extending to other parts of the body. The exact cause and mechanism still remain unknown. The prevalence of the illness is higher in females and is sometimes accompanied by neurological, ocular and oral symptoms.
Congenital insensitivity to pain or also known as congenital analgesia is a condition present from birth that prevents the ability to perceive physical pain. Affected individuals cannot feel pain in any part of their body. Over time, this lack of pain sensitivity can lead to an accumulation of injuries and health issues that may affect life expectancy. It is an extremely dangerous condition.
Noma or cancrum oris is a rapidly progressive, polymicrobial, often gangrenous infection of the mouth or genitals. It is common in immunocompromised children, malnourished children and areas of poor sanitation. It is an opportunistic infection that begins with ulcers in the mouth and is commonly found in areas of extreme poverty. If it is detected and treated progression can be prevented. But if left untreated, the ulcers progress and the patient’s general condition deteriorates.
Pica is the persistent eating of substances that have no nutritional value. They could consume anything from something harmless as ice to other non-edible and even dangerous objects such as dirt, paint, stones, metal, or feces. Before diagnosing pica, the doctor will evaluate the presence of other disorders such as mental retardation, developmental disabilities, or obsessive-compulsive disorder as the cause of the eating behavior. This pattern of behavior must last at least one month for a diagnosis of pica to be made.
Porphyria refers to a group of disorders that result from a buildup of natural chemicals that produce porphyrin in the body. Porphyrins are important for the function of hemoglobin — a protein in the red blood cells that links to porphyrin, binds iron, and carries oxygen to the organs and tissue. High levels of porphyrins can cause significant problems. Symptoms can include brain and nerve involvement but it can also cause skin problems, often after exposure to sunlight, because porphyrins react with light.
Foreign accent syndrome is a rare medical condition in which patients develop speech patterns that are foreign from their native accent. One of the most recent cases was that of Sarah Colwill in the U.K. After suffering from an extreme migraine she woke up in the hospital hours later speaking with what sounded like a Chinese accent although she had never been to China all her life. Foreign accent syndrome usually results from a stroke, but can also develop from head trauma, migraines or developmental problems.
Brain stones or cerebral calculi are large calcifications in the brain that may be single or multiple. These “stones” can be life-threatening if left untreated. A young man in Brazil suffered from throbbing headaches and vision problems for 10 years and turned out to have stonelike buildups of calcium in his brain. The stones were likely a rare complication of the man’s celiac disease, a condition that he didn’t know he had. Because of his recurring headaches and vision problems, the man had been treated for migraines, but he hadn’t improved. When doctors did a CT scan, they found patches of calcification in the back of the man’s brain, in the areas that handle vision.
Polydactyly or polydactylism also known as hyperdactyly is a congenital physical abnormality in humans, dogs, and cats having more than the usual number of fingers or toes. The extra digit is usually a small piece of soft tissue that can be removed. Or occasionally it contains bone without joints but rarely a complete functioning digit. One out of every 500 children has Polydactylism.
After seeing these bizarre and shocking medical conditions, don’t you feel lucky to be healthy? And to think that we complain about the littlest things. Some of these conditions can be cured while unfortunately others cannot. We just feel sorry for the people afflicted with these rare conditions.