There are some strange medical conditions we still can’t explain. Here are some of the weirdest, most unreal body mutations ever known to doctors.
10: Tree Man Illness
Epidermodysplasia verruciformis (or EV) is a very rare skin disorder also known as tree man illness & characterized by a DNA virus that gives the impression that the skin has turned to tree bark. In reality, a person suffering from this disease has warts and macules growing all over the body, especially on their hands & feet. While surgical procedures have been successful in temporarily removing the warts, there is no permanent cure for this illness & the warts often grow back after surgery. One of the most well-known cases of tree man illness was that of Dede Koswara. This sufferer from Indonesia garnered much public attention after appearing on TV in 2007 & by 2008, he underwent surgery to have the warts removed. Despite doctors being able to remove about 95% of the warts on his body, they reappeared soon after albeit smaller than before. He then underwent multiple more surgeries but only with the result of the warts showing up again. Dede Koswara died in 2016 at the age of 42 years old; estranged from his family & unable to work due to this rare disease.
Argyria is a condition that causes your skin to turn blue due to excessive exposure to chemical compounds. It can occur over your entire body or localized, meaning only patches of the skin will show a change in color. Cases of argyria date back to the 1850s primarily among people working in factories where silver was either manufactured or used in some capacity. Those who worked in these factories would often breathe in enough silver compounds to become argyric, though it is unclear how much exposure is needed for the disease to begin appearing. One of the best known cases occurred to a United States businessman & politician named Stan Jones. Jone has been suffering from argyria since 2000, when he began using colloidal silver due to the Y2K scare. As a result, his skin has turned permanently blue.
8: Capillary Leak Syndrome
Commonly known as Clark’s Syndrome, capillary leak syndrome is a disease that causes a leak from the circulatory system, leading to a significant drop in blood pressure as well as parts of the body swelling to massive proportions. It can also damage vital organs & is therefore potentially life-threatening. While many of the symptoms of capillary leak syndrome are not uncommon (such as lightheadedness, nausea, flu-like symptoms, & low blood pressure), the strange swelling in its victims is due to edema, or a buildup of watery fluid in various parts of the body. Edema can be quite painful for those suffering from it & often requires extensive treatment in order for the swelling to go away.
7: Charles Bonnet Syndrome
Charles Bonnet Syndrome is common among people who have completely or partially lost their vision. This condition brings about hallucinations, causing those afflicted with it to see things that are not actually there. It’s important to note that people experiencing Charles Bonnet Syndrome are in fact mentally healthy and thus, their hallucinations are not the result of drug use or mental health deficiencies. The real name of the disease is actually Visual Release Hallucinations but was nicknamed after the Swiss naturalist Charles Bonnet, who first described it in 1760 when his elderly grandfather began experiencing hallucinations; often visualizing patterns that were described as physically impossible. There exists is no effective treatment for this condition thus far aside from reassuring that those who suffer are mentally stable.
6: Parry-Romberg Syndrome
Parry-Romberg Syndrome is a disease in which one’s face caves in. While the exact cause is still unknown, it’s believed that the face caving in is caused by a shrinkage in the tissue beneath the face. Experts theorize that it’s due to some type of autoimmune disorder. Parry-Romberg Syndrome can also have a number of different effects on its victims. Severe pain is quite common in the areas affected as are migraine headaches. In addition, a small number of people may experience seizures as a result. It can also lead to problems with the eyes, such as drooping eyelids & receding eyeballs. And to make matters worse, oral side effects are known to occur including temporomandibular joint disorders, difficulty opening the mouth, & dental root exposure.
Noma is a rapidly spreading gangrenous infection of either the mouth or the genitals. It causes the tissues in the face & bones to break down, though the process is usually painless for the victim. Ulcers will also form inside the mouth that usually act as a precursor to tissue degeneration. In some cases, the genital tissues can also break down in a similar condition known as noma pudendi. There are a number of factors that cause noma such as drinking infested water, poor oral hygiene, living near diseased livestock, & malnutrition. It’s also known to be a byproduct of AIDS. Reports show that noma was a common disease among prisoners in the concentration camps of World War II. While it was once fairly common all throughout the world, advances in water filtering, hygiene, & nutrition have helped make it virtually non-existent in developed countries these days.
Progeria is a genetic disorder that causes young children to appear to age very rapidly. It’s one of the rarest diseases in the world, affecting only 1 in roughly 8 million babies worldwide. The life expectancy of those suffering from this condition is usually quite short, with victims rarely living past their late teens or early 20s. Symptoms of progeria usually appear early during a child’s infancy, often with wrinkled skin, hair loss, & a face that appears to be much smaller than normal while the rest of their head appears to be large in relation to the rest of their body. As the child ages, the symptoms worsen & they often also experience kidney problems, cardiovascular issues, & a loss of eyesight. Additionally, their bones do not develop properly, often causing their bodies to be very fragile; much like an elderly person. To this day, there is still no treatment that can cure progeria with doctors only being able to treat its symptoms & reducing the complications it can cause.
3: Stone Man Syndrome
Stone man syndrome is caused by an alteration in the body’s repair mechanisms, resulting in your muscles, tendons, or ligaments to turn into bones. As a result, mobility & functionality are greatly impaired, making it difficult to do basic tasks such as moving your joints, opening your mouth to eat, or simply walking around. Unnecessary bones will oftentimes also form around the rib cage, making it difficult to breathe. The condition often proves to be fatal and currently there is no known cure. In the past, attempts to remove the bones have simply resulted in even more rapid bone growth. One symptom of stone man syndrome that continues to baffle doctors is the fact that children born with it have deformed big toes. In addition, it’s so rare that doctors sometimes misdiagnose its symptoms; mistakenly believing it to be cancer or fibrosis & thus causing the wrong treatments to make the patient’s condition even worse. The average life expectancy of those suffering from stone man syndrome is only 40 years. But misdiagnosis & mismanagement often leads to the person’s life span to be even shorter.
2: Human Werewolf Syndrome
Also known by its formal name hypertrichosis, human werewolf syndrome is a disease that spurs abnormal hair growth in humans. The growth can be either isolated to one area of the body or present throughout the entire body. In some cases, the condition is present at birth while in others, it can occur later in life. For those who acquire it later in their lives, the syndrome is often the side effect of certain behaviors such as drug abuse or eating disorders. Symptoms of these cases can be managed by treating the causes. But unfortunately for those born with it, there is no cure. Petrus Gonsalvus was the first person to officially be diagnosed with this disease back in the 17th-century. He became known as “the man of the woods” & fathered three children & a grandson who suffered from the disease as well. Prominent cases from the past include Julia Pastrana (a 19th-century Mexican woman who would perform in freak shows), Fedor Jeftichew (another performer who became known as “Jo-Jo the Dogfaced Man”), & the famous family from Burma who passed the condition down for four generations in the 19th century.
1: The Giant Colon
On display at the famous Mütter Museum in Philadelphia is a giant colon that, despite its enormous size, once lived inside a human being. It belonged to a young man living in Philadelphia who earned a living as a sideshow performer, often going by the stage name “balloon man.” According to the museum’s website, the man’s colon grew up to nine feet long while inside of him & weighed more than 47 pounds. He was suffering from a disease known as Hirschsprung’s disease, which disables the colon from operating normally; often creating a state of chronic constipation. The “balloon man” died at the young age of 29 years old. Upon his death, his body was donated to science, at which point medical examiners discovered 40 pounds of feces in his colon. Hirschsprung’s disease leads to a condition known as megacolon, where feces is unable to pass through the colon, causing it to enlarge well beyond its normal size. Aside from an array of antibiotics, a surgical procedure called a colectomy is often required to treat this ailment.