06 October 2017

You will cry after seeing the skin of this 'mermaid baby'

Maryam Bibi was born with a condition which causes skin to grow much quicker, crack and become flaky, then shed much quicker than the skin of the average human being.

Maira Bibi has given her daughter the nickname "Mermaid Baby" because it looks like she has scales.

The little girl, whose actual name is Maryam Bibi, suffers from a rare skin condition called ichthyosis.

Red, raw and glossy

There are several types of the condition which causes skin to grow much quicker, crack and become flaky, then shed much quicker than that of the average human being.

Maryam was born with the condition, and Maira told the Daily Mail that when she gave birth to her little girl, her skin looked red, raw and glossy.

It turned out that Maryam was born with a collodion membrane on her skin, causing the glossy effect.

They initially thought Maryam had eczema, but soon discovered that her condition is not the same as her mother's.

According to the Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types (FIRST), collodion membrane babies do shed that layer of the membrane, but it's likely that ichthyosis will follow.

Once a baby sheds the collodion membrane, there are two common types of ichthyosis which the infant may have – lamellar ichthyosis and congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma (CIE).

Newborns often don't survive

Another type of ichthyosis where the collodion membrane is always present is in harlequin ichthyosis, which is regarded as the most severe form of the condition.

It is extremely rare, but babies who are born with harlequin ichthyosis have thick, broken layers of skin and may appear deformed, but it is actually the tightness of the skin which pulls at features like the eyes, mouth and ears.

The tightness of skin around the infant's mouth may cause difficulty with feeding and they may need to be tube-fed. It also affects their chest, which can also make eating and breathing a challenge.

These babies are also more susceptible to dehydration and infection. Newborns with harlequin ichthyosis often don't survive.

The condition is incurable and Maryam's parents told the Mirror they have had to learn how to manage the situation.

They've learned that they need to wash her clothing and bedding frequently, and they've already broken two washing machines in the process.

Daily moisturising crucial

Because her skin often cracks, they must constantly moisturise it. They believe it takes about three to four hours a day just to ensure her skin is sufficiently hydrated.

There are a number of other complications which arise when a baby is born with ichthyosis.

Diagnosing and treating the skin condition may seem simple, but it can be taxing. Generally, specialists can identify the condition just by looking at the condition of the skin. Occasionally a biopsy is done, where a piece of skin is removed and examined under a microscope, and genetic testing is also an option.

Moisturising regularly with heavy moisturising creams and ointments and maintaining high hydration levels are imperative to managing the condition. Dry, scaly skin could lead to itching, and if the skin is scratched open, it could result in infections. This may require antibiotics.

Image credit: iStock