9 Grossest Skin Conditions on the Planet

by Ellen Davidson

Skin.  The largest organ.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ in both surface area and overall weight. In fact, for an organ weighing up to nine pounds and able to stretch two square yards, it plays a critical role in regulating your body temperature and protecting it from infection and bacteria. However, sometimes the bacterial war against your skin leads to some disturbing and gross skin conditions. With so many infections and skin ailments out there, we decided to highlight the most disturbing in this compiled list.

Caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, both forms of the disease produce painful sores on the skin. Large nodules and skin lesions result in decreased sensitivity in affected regions, which do not heal after several weeks and even months. While this is a treatable disease, people with long-term leprosy may lose their limbs and use of hands or feet because of repeated injury and lack of sensation.

 Tungiasis is an infestation by the burrowing flea, Tunga penetrans, indigenous to the Caribbean region, which latches on to a warm-blooded host to reproduce. The female flea lays her eggs under your skin, furthering the infestation, which must be surgically removed to prevent a potentially fatal secondary infection. Look for some early signs of Tungiasis, which is a black dot in the center of a bright red sore.

 Argyria results from prolonged contact with or ingestion of silver salts. In the case of Paul Karason, the 58-year-old began drinking colloidal silver as a cure-all remedy for just about any disease or illness there is. Drinking such large quantities of silver salts eventually caused Argyria, causing his skin to literally turn blue, like a Smurf. Unfortunately, Argyria is permanent.
Hypertrichosis (Werewolf Syndrome)

Affecting one in ten billion people worldwide, Hypertrichosis makes people resemble werewolves due to excessive hair growth in places on the body where hair cannot be grown, such as all over the face, or covering the entire body (Generalized Hypertrichosis).

 As the disease suggests, main symptoms of Elephantiasis make your skin thicken and swell up, especially in the legs, ankles, hands, and feet. It can affect every part of your body, including the genital area. Caused by thread-like parasitic worms, the parasite infects the lymph nodes, blocking the flow of lymph throughout the body, resulting in chronic edema. Although it is one of the most common disabilities in the world, especially in Africa, effective treatment is becoming more widespread, making the disease treatable, and eventually curable.

Gangrene results when the blood supply is cut off from a part of the body, causing body tissue to die and decay. While gangrene can also occur from an infection or injury to the affected area of the body, one non-surgical treatment of removing rotting flesh is equally as gross as the condition itself: the use of maggots. They have been scientifically tested and proven to be effective in healing gangrene, by eating the infected tissue and leaving healthy flesh alone.

Seborrheic keratosis
Noncancerous, benign skin growths may occur in the latter years of life. They appear as dark brown patches of skin that are either flat or elevated, ranging from small spots to more than one inch in diameter. Resembling warts, Seborrheic keratosis often occurs in patches of many small bumps and is treatable by curettage or electrocautery.

Ichthyosis refers to at least 28 generalized, mostly genetic skin disorders resulting in extremely dry, scaly, thickened, or flaky skin. In some types, the skin resembles scales on a fish or extremely bumpy and rough skin. Other conditions are more life-threatening, such as harlequin-type ichthyosis, which causes a thickening of the keratin layer in fetal human skin. Unfortunately, there are other treatments for Ichthyosis and there is no way to prevent the disease since it is often of a genetic nature.

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
Also known as Cutis hyperelastica, this syndrome is caused by a defect in the synthesis of collagen (Type I or III) in the body. Since collagen helps tissues resist deformation, skin, muscles, ligaments, and other visceral organs may be affected. Symptoms include hyper-elasticity of skin, hyper-mobility, shortened bones, joint dislocation, and poor wound healing. The signs of this disease are ultimately due to a reduced amount of collagen, so anything from osteoarthritis to loose skin and unstable joins may occur.

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