You Would Believe Your Eyes: Medical Phenomena Deformities
Whether deformities are caused by genetics or environmental factors, they spark curiosity and awe throughout the world. People who have them surely don’t have easy lives and most of them have undergone risky surgeries to change their appearance. Some have joined the circus and embraced the label “freak” in order to make a living. Others have concealed themselves to avoid people’s reactions. However, these people’s deformities aren’t something that defines them.
1 Cutaneous Horns
Cutaneous horns (cornu cutaneum) result when keratin manifests in a conical shape and protrudes outward from the skin. Lesions found at the base of these horns may be malignant or benign. When cutaneous horns grow, they tend to be on people with fair skin, at an average age of 50. Sun-exposed areas of skin are most susceptible. A biopsy can help determine the cause because cutaneous horns are related to a variety of medical issues. Possibilities range from verruca to Bowen’s disease. The majority of horns are benign, but about 20 percent are cancerous, and another 20 percent are pre-cancerous. Some people even choose to let their benign horns grow. However, it doesn’t look very pretty, and in fact make people look as if though are the devil himself.
2 Backward-bending knees
People with genu recurvatum have knees that bend backward surprisingly far, sometimes creating an animal-like appearance. The most severe cases involve a congenital dislocation of the knees. Other cases involve differences in leg length or diseases such as cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. Another cause is physical trauma to the knee. It could happen while playing sports or in a car accident, for instance. Surgery and physical therapy can help treat the condition. Leg braces may also be used. Depending on how well treatment works, this condition may become a permanent disability for some individuals. To date, the most well-known case of genu recurvatum is that of Ella Harper, born in Tennessee circa 1870. Ella preferred to walk on all fours. She was dubbed “Camel Girl” and found great success in the role. She even starred in W.H. Harris’s Nickel Plate Circus in 1886 and used the profits to better her life.
Hypertrichosis is also known medically as Ambras syndrome and cheekily as “werewolf syndrome.” Genetics cause people with hypertrichosis to have an excessive amount of hair, which may grow all over the body or only in concentrated areas. Ambras syndrome may also be acquired later in life—in relation to cancer, for example. Fewer than 60 cases have ever been recorded, but this is not just a rarity for the history books. People with hypertrichosis live today. In 2010, Supatra “Nat” Sasuphan of Thailand earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the hairiest teenager. She’s one of many who’ve made the best of especially unique physical traits. People can embrace and find success through their differences, especially when those oddities are strange enough to be seen as extraordinary.
4 Supernumerary nipples
When more than two nipples grow on a body, the condition is known medically as polythelia. Extra nipples typically form along the milk lines, which run from the upper torso to the groin area. Cases have been recorded in which supernumerary nipples appear elsewhere on the body, though. Other places they may occur include the thighs, face, and neck. Regardless of where these abnormalities pop up, they are physically harmless. Underdeveloped nipples are often mistaken for moles, so removal is typically done for cosmetic reasons. Celebrities such as Mark Wahlberg have famously accepted and embraced their third nipples. Harry Stiles of the band One Direction admitted to having four altogether. However, not everyone shows their supernumerary nipples so much love. Carrie Underwood had hers removed, which she admitted at her American Idol audition.
5 Lobster claws
People born with ectrodactyly tend to have deformities of both their hands and their feet. Varying degrees of surgery are used to correct this condition. Known commonly as split hand/foot malformation, lobster claw syndrome involves missing fingers or toes along with gaping clefts in the sufferer’s hands or feet. Fingers or toes are fused with other digits or webbed, making hands look as if they were claws similar as the ones lobsters have. If only one limb is deformed, it likely occurred due to a non-hereditary genetic mutation. If the hands and feet are all deformed, the condition was inherited. Parents who carry the gene have a 50-percent chance of passing it down to their offspring. Some choose to have children despite the high risk. Lobster claw syndrome is not related to more complicated medical conditions or mental barriers. The only challenge is learning to function with hands and feet shaped differently than most.