Diseases That Can Change the Way You Look

With the exception of some twins and multiples, we all look different. Thanks to genetics, hair color, height, skin color and facial features differ from person to person, but there are some conditions that add to a person’s uniqueness. There are several rare diseases, many of which are genetic, seem like something out of an X-Men film, but they really exist in our world. Here’s a list of the rarest conditions that can change a person’s appearance. 

1. Argyria

Agyria is a rare skin condition that occurs when silver builds up in a person’s body over a long time. Caused by excessive contact with silver, the disease causes a person’s skin to turn blue. If the exposure is topical (applied to a part of the body), then the color change is localized to that part of the body. If it is ingested, then it can affect any and all skin surfaces. The body tries its best to degrade the silver, but in doing so, the pigment shows through the skin. Unfortunately, it is irreversible, and the skin color varies from blue to grey depending on how much the person has been exposed to.

2. Xeroderma pigmentosum

When most people think of sunlight sensitive conditions, many tend to mention albinism, eczema, and psoriasis. Another condition is Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP), a hereditary disorder characterized by extreme sunlight sensitivity. Also known as ‘Vampire Disease’, people with XP rarely leave their home and when they do, they have to wear specialized suits. Exposure to sunlight prevents people with XP from repairing the sun’s damage leading to an exponential increased risk of developing blisters and cancer.

3. Chromhidrosis

Chromhidrosis, which is a fusion of the word color and sweat, is a unique genetic condition that causes people to sweat in color. It typically occurs in apocrine sweat glands found in the axillary (armpit) and facial skin. Although the color depends on the cause of the illness, the most common varieties include black, green, yellow, blue, and brown. Fortunately, the most harmful part of this ailment is insecurity when wearing certain colors and your washing machine having to work a little harder.  

4.  Hypertrichosis

Seeing as “Vampire Disease” was mentioned earlier, we thought that it would only be fair to talk about “Werewolf Syndrome” or hypertrichosis. It is the excessive growth of the body, and it can either be localized to one part or seen on the entire body. Hypertrichosis can be caused by either a genetic condition or it can be acquired, and the mechanism for the latter is not fully understood. Most people with extensive hypertrichosis tend to work in circuses like Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy and Percilla Lauther.

 5. Acromegaly

Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder that produces too much growth hormone. In most cases, it is caused by a benign tumor pressing on the pituitary gland, causing it to increase the production of the hormone. Some people have very few symptoms like an enlarged jaw or fingers, while others experience an increase in their total body size. Some famous faces with acromegaly include Andre the Giant, wrestlers Great Khali and Big Show and Lurch from the Addams Family, actor Carel Strycken. In some cases, this condition shortens a person’s lifespan, as an enlarged heart (and other organs) comes with its fair share of problems, but some do live a full life.


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