Tree man disease may be one of the world's worst diseases and looks like something straight out of a horror movie. It involves skin growths that look almost like tree bark, and this is unfortunately one of those skin diseases that is incurable. It can completely ruin the lives of those who happen to have it and eventually become fatal. To all appearances, the growths caused by the disease actually looks like the person who has it is slowly transforming into a tree.
For those wondering what is Lewandowsky-Lutz dysplasia - the clinical name for tree man disease - you are in the same boat as the rest of the medical community. The exact causes of this "tree bark skin" is unknown. We know it has to do with a very rare genetic disorder, and it may have to do with immune system problems and other infections. More research is still being done as scientists and doctors desperately search for a cure.
These tree bark skin disease facts may be distressing for some, so be aware that a few of the pictures and descriptions here are graphic.
The Growths Can Lead To Skin Cancer And Other Fatal Complications
Although some people can find ways to live with the disease (some cases are not as bad as others), the condition can become dire. The growths can weigh anywhere from 10-20 pounds and while they are not painful, they can make eating, drinking, or doing other necessary tasks impossible.
Hygiene also becomes difficult. The inability to fully clean their skin can lead to infection that is nearly impossible to treat, since doctors can't get past the growths to the site of infection. The lesions may also become carcinomas, which means they are cancerous and can be lethal.
One of the more famous cases resulted in the eventual death of the Dede Koswara in 2016. By the end of his life, he was so weak from the growths taking over his body that he could not feed himself or even speak. He may have had one of the most severe cases ever recorded and luckily, if the condition is detected early, treatments may be applied which allow for a more normal life.
Removing The Growths Will Only Cause Them To Grow Back Faster
The natural response to seeing lesions and what look like thorns growing on one's skin might be to simply find a way to remove them. However, that doesn't really help in this case. One known victim of the disease went to local doctors for assistance and had the bark-like growths removed. For a short time, he thought he was alright... but then the growths began to come back. Except this time they actually grew back quicker and thicker. This means while surgery can keep the growths from getting so bad a person can't function, it is really only a temporary solution.
One patient named Abul Bajandar had 24 surgeries and thought he was cured. The medical world rejoiced until 2018, when the growths began to return. While doctors and Bajandar hold out hope, it appears removing the growth just urges it on.
Insects, Parasites, And Bacteria May Try To Live In The Growths
An often unexpected side effect of this rare condition is the bark-like growths act as hiding places for bacteria, parasites, and even everyday insects.
In one case, a man had roughly 12 pounds of growths on his body when he was finally forced to get medical treatment. The doctor who examined him was shocked and horrified with how bad the condition had become, and said it was one of the worst cases he'd seen.
The warts on his feet made walking difficult, but the bigger problem was the denseness of the bark on his limbs. The infections there were unable to be easily reached since they were so deep against the skin. The doctor eventually found insects living in the man's growths.
There Is No Known Cure For Lewandowsky-Lutz Dysplasia
Unfortunately, we do not know how to cure this horrifying disease. Instead, doctors can only try to treat the lesions and lessen any other symptoms. They can surgically remove the growths, but these surgeries have to be done so regularly. The growths come back quickly, so an individual with the disease may have to have multiple surgeries per year to keep up.
Doctors may also prescribe drugs called retinoids, which can lessen cell growth for skin conditions and keep the growths from showing up as quickly. They may also prescribe interferion, which helps the body fight viruses that may be partially responsible for the condition.
In the end, however, there is no known cure, and only some patients respond to the treatments doctors do have. In this case, the best hope may just continuing to search for a more permanent solution.