A toddler has a rare condition that makes his skin so dry it looks and feels like fish scales.
Daniel Maples, who is 18 months old, was born with lamellar ichthyosis – which affects just one in 600,000 people – and causes the skin to become thickened and cracked.
The top layer of his skin sheds six times faster than normal – leaving a thick scale-like build up of skin underneath.
His parents Steve Maples, 29, and Emma Holby, 23, have to smother him in medical jelly like Vaseline every four hours to stop his delicate skin from cracking.
Steve, a recruiter from Maldon, Essex, said: “The skin is thick and it peels off and it takes about two months to completely come off.
“Over time he now has to be creamed every four to six hours each day and every three hours throughout the night.
“It’s a very high maintenance condition and he also requires two or three showers a day as well as eye drops because he doesn’t blink.
“He’s been in and out of hospital with skin infections because of the condition.
“It will continue throughout his life and there’s no cure for it. When he is older he’ll have to do it all himself.”
He added: “Emma and I were just unlucky that we both had the gene. There is a one in four chance any children we have will get it.
“As long as he’s been brought up right and it’s not an issue he will be alright.
“It’s one of those things, he’s just a bit different. He’s a very happy child and as long as we teach him to be confident about himself I don’t see why he can’t lead a normal life.”
lamellar ichthyosis, which develops when a child inherits an abnormal gene from both parents, speeds up the skin cell turnover.
The word ichthyosis comes from the ancient Greek word for fish – because the cracked skin is said to resemble the scales on a fish.
Problems associated with the condition include overheating, where a person’s thick skin prevents them from sweating and eye problems caused by the tightness of the skin.
Some children get ‘constriction bands’ which mean they have tight bands of skin around their fingers or toes which can prevent proper blood circulation.
Severe scaling of the skin on the scalp can also lead to patchy loss of hair.
Steve and Emma are hoping to raise money for The Ichthyosis Support Group, and have so far raised £2,700 towards the fight for a cure.
Anyone wishing to donate can do so here.