A baby with a rare condition that causes her to grow and shed scales ‘like a snake’ has been dubbed a real life ‘mermaid’ baby by her mother.
Maryam Bibi, from Birmingham, has ichthyosis, which causes her skin to grow 10 times faster than normal people’s, making it extremely dry and flaky.
Her parents Maira Bibi, 21, and Azmat Khan, 25, spend up to four hours a day moisturising Maryam’s skin to prevent it from cracking, and have broken two washing machines trying to keep up with the youngster’s constantly dirty clothes and bedding.
Despite initially struggling to cope with strangers’ stares, Maryam’s mother has accepted her condition and say she would not have her any other way.
Ms Bibi, a stay-at-home mother, said: ‘I like to think she’s like a mermaid because of the appearance of her skin and the how smooth the scales feel.
‘Despite her looking different it was love at first sight, I wouldn’t have expected her to have these problems but couldn’t imagine our lives any other way now.’
A baby has a rare condition that causes her to grow scales and shed them like a snake
Maryam Bibi’s mother has dubbed her a ‘mermaid’ due to the disorder that makes her skin flake
WHAT IS ICHTHYOSIS?
Ichthyosis describes a group of conditions that cause dry, scaly skin.
It occurs when skin cells are formed faster than is required, causing them to accumulate on the skin, resulting in thickening.
Unlike eczema, ichthyosis occurs continuously and usually affects the entire body.
In most cases, it is inherited and present at birth.
There is no cure.
Treatment focuses on improving the skin’s condition and reducing discomfort.
This is achieved via moisturising at least twice a day. Medication may also be required to reduce scaling.
Source: Ichthyosis Support Group
‘I like to think she’s like a mermaid’
Ms Bibi said: ‘Her skin reminds me of fish scales, because the patterns are such different colours when it’s drying and then that skin peels off just like a snake.
‘But I like to think she’s like a mermaid because of the appearance of her skin and the how smooth the scales feel.
‘Despite her looking different it was love at first sight, I wouldn’t have expected her to have these problems but couldn’t imagine our lives any other way now.
‘Before I craved to see what she would look like with normal skin but now I can’t even imagine that because that to us would not be a true image of how she looks; to me she’s beautiful.’
Every morning, Maryam must have an hour-long bath before her parents apply various different soaps to her skin to help loosen it.
They then moisturise to her skin around four times a day to prevent it from cracking.
Ms Bibi said: ‘I’m always having to change her bedding because she sheds all the time, so we are always buying new linen and clothes because it gets ruined with all the moisturiser.
‘We’ve already gone through two washing machines in seven months because of the damage caused to it from the Vaseline she needs on her skin, that’s even after we’ve soaked the clothes in hot water too.’
Maryam has ichthyosis, which causes her skin to grow 10 times faster than normal people’s
Her parents spend up to three hours a day moisturising Maryam’s skin to stop it cracking
They have broken two washing machines trying to keep up with her dirty clothes and bedding
Maryam’s mother used to hide the youngster’s face in public but now invites questions
‘You could tell a mile away something was wrong’
As a new mother, Ms Bibi initially struggled to cope with strangers staring at her daughter.
She said: ‘At first it was difficult to deal with everyone looking at her so I would try to cover her head in public but now I’m confident going out with her.
‘There was a lot of staring at first, most people believed she had eczema and made comments, I much prefer people coming up and asking questions
‘Her skin is a lot thinner now and thanks to our moisturising routine it’s less noticeable, before you could tell a mile away that something was wrong.
‘Her skin grows way faster than normal people’s, so much so that it forms a layer which then sheds off and comes back again.
She said: ‘Once her skin begins to peel it turns a darker colour and gets thicker before shedding off into pieces.
‘She used to have cracks appear over her body within the space of a few hours, like little slits, but now we’ve got used to constantly keeping her moisturised.’
Every day, Maryam has an hour-long bath before applying soaps to her skin to help loosen it
Maryam’s moisturing routine has improved the appearance of her skin and people stare less
Ms Bibi feared Maryam had inherited her eczema, but later noticed something was different
Her mother said Maryam was red raw and shiny like a plastic doll, not a real baby
‘She was red raw and shiny like a plastic doll’
After giving birth to Maryam, Ms Bibi initially feared the youngster had inherited her eczema, but later noticed something was different in her baby’s skin.
Ms Bibi said: ‘When I went to see her in intensive care she didn’t look like a normal baby, she was red raw and shiny like a plastic doll.
‘She was given humidity and heat inside of an incubator, as well as constantly having cream applied to her skin by nurses and myself.
‘The doctors explained that ichthyosis is a family of genetic skin disorders characterized by dry, scaling skin and that there are many different types.’
‘The condition affects her movement too, when her skin becomes drier she starts whinging more and you can tell she’s uncomfortable.
After two-and-a-half-weeks in NICU, Maryam was released home and her parents had to adapt to their daughter’s daily routine of moisturising and eye drops.
‘As her mum I want to give her the most comfortable, happy and painless life I can make for her.’
Maryam’s family are fundraising to help cover the youngster’s treatment and future costs. Donate here.