CAIRO: Ahmed Abdel Aziz is a 28 year old man who suffers from a rare genetic condition causes him to have thick, dry and ‘fish-scales’ skin.
Having a body covered from top to toe with scales, resembling those of fish, along with a low hair growth, Abdel Aziz looks much older than his real age. He was born with a disease called Ichthyosis vulgaris.
In order to prevent his skin from cracking and bleeding, Abdel Aziz has to “take a shower every day and pour moisturizing creams” all over his body. “Only cold water relieves me, although [this feeling] does not last for a long time, and my skin returns to itch,” said Abdel Aziz.
“I also have to exfoliate the scales that itches me whenever they accumulated back again,” he added.
“I do not sweat due to sweat gland disorder, that’s why I should not go out in the sun because I suffer difficulty in breathing, overheated, and my skin turns red,” he continued.
“Fans are on all day at home, and if a fly stands on my toe, my whole skin burns.”
Abdel Aziz went on describing his persistent “unbearable pain” which accompanies him since he wakes up in the morning and until he takes his shower. “My skin gets dry and cracks soon after using the creams; every day I discover a new place cracking and bleeding.”
Despite his suffering, Abdel Aziz chose to make his living by teaching Quran reading and Islamic teachings for a short period of time; “I have to get back home before 10 am; I avoid going out during the afternoon especially in summer. They understand my condition at work,” he said.
Abdel Aziz said that he also suffers glaucoma since he was five years old. “I always go out with my father; he escorts me to work every day because I cannot see well.” He added that he cannot fully open his eyes due to his skin disorder disease.
He also said that his father helps him taking shower.
“His morning shower is a must every day; whenever he wakes up, the scales on his skin fall in clumps and he needs to moisturize his skin to relieve his pain,” his father told Youm7.
“I want to live a normal life but doctors told me my condition is hopeless,” said Abdel Aziz. He added he feels he is a burden to his family.
The disease exists in three different degrees that vary from mild to severe, according to Hany el-Nazer, Professor of Dermatology and former head of the National Council for Research, in statements to The Cairo Post.
El-Nazer said that patients with mild and moderate types see significant recovery especially after puberty age, with about 90 percent for the mild and between 60-70 percent for the moderate, while the third type is very difficult to recover. “Abdel Aziz’s condition is apparently of the third type.”
Typical medications prescribed for the patients with “fish-scale” are moisturizers used on the affected areas on regular basis. El-Nazer said that medicines containing vitamin A sometimes lead to good results with patients with the third type.
He said that the disease is not contagious adding that a new medicine called contractubex gel was applied on patients and showed significant improvement.
According to El-Nazer, most of the cases with fish scales are sons of consanguineous marriages. He added that number of patients incubating the disease in Egypt is more than Europe, suggesting that the reason is due to the common culture of consanguineous marriages.
Additional reporting by Marwa Ellias