This Could Be This First Female With "Tree Man Syndrome"

Sahana Khatun, 10, poses for a photograph at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital in Bangladesh. STR/Stringer/AFP

A girl from Bangladesh might be the first known female to be diagnosed with the ultra-rare skin disorder epidermodysplasia verruciformis, better known as “tree man syndrome".

Sahana Khatun, a 10-year-old from a rural village in northern Bangladesh, India, recently traveled to the country’s capital with her father after odd bark-like growths appeared on her face around four months ago. AFP reports that doctors at Dhaka’s Medical College hospital are currently carrying out tests, but following their preliminary examinations, they're becoming increasingly worried this could be another case of the infamous “tree-man syndrome".

Epidermodysplasia verruciformis is an extremely rare hereditary condition, with less than half a dozen cases ever documented. For reasons currently unknown, all of these cases have previously been men.

It is characterized by an abnormal susceptibility to human papillomaviruses, better known as HPV. This causes an uncontrollable burst of scaly warts to grow on the person’s body, which is often said to resemble tree bark. For most of the population, the two main strains of HPV that are associated with this condition don’t cause any symptoms. Along with making everyday life more cumbersome, the condition is also associated with increased risk of skin cancers.

There is perhaps a light at the end of the tunnel, however. Just recently, a fellow sufferer of this condition, and probably the most famous, Abul Bajandar from Bangladesh underwent 16 revolutionary surgical procedures in Dhaka to remove his massive warts. While doctors aren’t sure if his growths will come back, it was heralded as a “remarkable milestone” for the condition.

Sahana’s situation still remains unclear. Although doctors currently believe she has a much milder case of the illness, very little is still known about the condition.

“We are very poor. My daughter lost her mother when she was only six. I really hope that the doctors will remove the barks from my beautiful daughter’s face,” said her father, Mohammad Shahjahan, according to AFP.

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