A young Indian girl, Shalini, has been named a human snake as a result of the fact that she sheds her skin every two months due to an ultra-rare condition.
The 16 year old needs to continually smear her body with moisturizer to prevent it from hardening and seizing up. But her poor family cannot afford the treatment and spend their money feeding their family of eight. The brave teenager was thrown out of school because her extraordinary look which scared her fellow pupils.
Doctors have diagnosed Erythroderma, an inflammatory skin disease also referred to as ‘red man syndrome’, but are unable to treat it. It causes the skin over almost the entire body to become scaly and flake off. Shalini has shed her skin every 45 days since she was born. She has to soak her body in water every hour – night and day – and smear herself with lotion every three hours to prevent drying out.
Her worried mother Devkunwar said:
“Shalini is suffering from the disease since childhood. We saw several doctors but none of them could cure her and her condition has continued to get worse. I feel so helpless when I see her skin coming off, causing excruciating pain to my child. This disease is not killing her but taking her life bit by bit. We have no idea where to go to and who to consult.”
Devkunwar, a care-giver in a state-funded community centre, is so heart-broken she says death would be kinder to her daughter.
She added: “It is better to die than living a life of misery. Shalini’s two siblings Sejal, 15, and Price, eight, have no serious health problems.”
Her father Rajbahadur, a low-paid worker, said:
“It’s really sad because she was not born normally and has scaly skin all over her body. It is similar to being severely burnt, from the sole of her feet to her head.”
Shalini said: “I wanted to study but they threw me out of school as the children would get scared by seeing my face. Everybody in the family is suffering because of my medical condition. But what is my fault? What sin did I commit to be cursed with such a disease. I want to live. Please help me, if you can.”