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The teen whose skin grows too fast: Boy, 13, with rare disorder that causes him to constantly shed skin like a snake defies odds after doctors said he wouldn't live past his first birthday

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Thursday, June 06, 2019

A Florida teenager with a rare condition that causes him to shed skin like a snake has defied doctors' predictions that he wouldn't survive past his first birthday. 

Elio Figueredo, 13, of Tampa, was born with a genetic disorder that is believed to be a form of ichythosis.

This means he makes new skin cells too quickly and loses the protective barrier that keeps moisture in his skin, causing it to constantly peel. 

Because of the bright red and flaky appearance of his skin, he is often taunted by other kids, who have called him ugly and disabled, and even telling him to kill himself.

But Elio remains positive and said he wants to inspire others with similar conditions that having a disorder doesn't mean you have to stay indoors all the time.

Elio's mother Janet, an orthodontal assistant, said her pregnancy - like her previous two - had gone smoothly.  

'We weren't expecting him to have any type of condition, it was never detected. It was a surprise not just to me but also for the doctors,' she told Barcroft TV.

'They put him in an incubator...They thought he had a yeast infection, then cystic fibrosis. Finally, they found out that he needed to be in a humidifier.'

Doctors believe Elio has ichthyosis, a collection of genetic skin disorders that is  characterized by dry, scaly skin.

There are more than 20 different types of ichthyosis, with the majority of sufferers experiencing ichthyosis vulgaris, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. 

Most children begin exhibiting symptoms between three months and five years old. 

The First Skin Foundation states that ichthyosis vulgaris affects one out of every 250 people. 

There is currently no cure. Treatment focuses on reducing the severity of symptoms, including taking baths and applying moisturizer to the skin.  

Elio's condition earned him the nickname 'Little Elmo' from his family because his face and large parts of his body are often bright red. 

Doctors told Janet that her son might not make it to his first birthday, and even instructed her to make funeral arrangements in advance.  

Elio defied the prognosis. He spent the first three years of his life in a nursing home in order to get the specialized care he needed, before moving home to be with his mom and sisters.

His condition means he has to undergo an intensive regime to remove the excess skin that builds up on his body.

This includes two bleach baths a week and lubricating his body with Vaseline every two to three hours. 

'He gets up, then takes his bath for twenty to thirty minutes, where we scrub all his dead skin off,' Janet said. 'If he peeled it off, he would bleed because it is attached to his skin.'

If Elio goes outside, the sun will burn him so he wears long sleeves and a hat to protect himself.

Elio often faces cruel comments from passers-by as well as peers in school.

'I have been told to kill myself, I have told to just leave, I have been called ugly, I have been called tomato, a girl called me a disabled,' he told Barcroft TV. 

'Every single day of my life people make comments, but I don't care anymore. I am at a point where it doesn't matter if they say mean stuff. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words don't hurt me.'    

As well as bullying, people have also called the police when seeing Elio out in public after assuming his redness was the result of abuse. 

'I had a situation where we tried going to the beach, and it was evening hours and the sun was going down, and we just decided we would have a little picnic and just enjoy and watch the sunset,' Janet said.

'The next thing we know we have firefighters approaching us, then the cops came and started questioning me, asking if I burnt him, or wasn't caring for him properly.'   

Elio says he's passionate about food and dreams of becoming a chef one day.

 

Author: Mary Kekatos
Source: dailymail
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