By Josh Saunders
An adorable baby with a rare condition that causes her to grow scales and shed them off like a snake has been dubbed a real life ‘mermaid baby’ by her doting mum.
Maryam Bibi, from Birmingham, West Midlands, has ichthyosis, which causes her skin to grow ten times quicker than normal people’s, making it extremely dry and flaky.
Her parents Maira Bibi and Azmat Khan, 21 and 25, initially believed she had eczema due to her red-raw skin that was covered in a shiny layer, called a collodion membrane.
Since coming home, to stop Maryam’s skin from drying out her parents spend up to three hours a day moisturising her skin to stop it from cracking.
In public new-mum Maira initially struggled to deal with strangers staring at her daughter but recently has become proud and answers questions about the condition.
She says the patchy patterns on her seven-month-old daughter’s skin reminds her of fish scales and makes her look just like a ‘mermaid’.
Maira, a full-time mum, said: “Her skin grows way faster than normal peoples, so much so that it forms a layer which then sheds off and comes back again.
“Once her skin begins to peel it turns a darker colour and get thicker before shedding off into pieces.
“She used to have cracks appear over her body within the space of a few hours, like little slits, but now we’ve got used to constantly keeping her moisturised.
“Her skin reminds me of fish scales, because the patterns are such different colours when it’s drying and then that skin peels off just like a snake.
“But I like to think she’s like a mermaid because of the appearance of her skin and the how smooth the scales feel.
“At first it was difficult to deal with everyone looking at her so I would try to cover her head in public but now I’m confident going out with her.
“There was a lot of staring at first, most people believed she had eczema and made comments, I much prefer people coming up and asking questions
“Her skin is a lot thinner now and thanks to our moisturising routine it’s less noticeable – before you could tell a mile away that something was wrong.
“Despite her looking different it was love at first sight, I wouldn’t have expected her to have these problems but couldn’t imagine our lives any other way now.
“Before I craved to see what she would look like with normal skin but now I can’t even imagine that because that to us would not be a true image of how she looks – to me she’s beautiful.”
After giving birth to little Maryam, her mum first feared she had passed down eczema onto her daughter but knew something was different due to the appearance of her skin.
Later she would be diagnosed with ichthyosis a condition that affects one in 600,000 people.
Maira said: “When I went to see her in intensive care she didn’t look like a normal baby, she was red raw and shiny like a plastic doll.
“She was given humidity and heat inside of an incubator, as well as constantly having cream applied to her skin by nurses and myself.
“The doctors explained that ichthyosis is a family of genetic skin disorders characterized by dry, scaling skin and that there are many different types.”
After two-and-a-half-weeks in NICU, the little girl was released home and her parents had to adapt to their daughter’s daily routine of moisturising and eye drops.
Maira said: “Each morning we start off with an hour-long bath, then apply different soaps to help the loose skin comes off in patches.
“There’s normally a couple of inches of skin that comes off here, another couple there but I try to help by moisturising her four times a day from head to toe.
“The condition affects her movement too, when her skin becomes drier she starts whinging more and you can tell she’s uncomfortable.”
Maira says the family regularly buy new clothes and bedsheets for her due to the damage caused by the Vaseline they apply to their daughter’s skin.
Additionally, they claim to have already broken two washing machines since she was born and are fundraising to help cover future costs and treatments for their daughter.
Maira said: “I’m always having to change her bedding because she sheds all the time, so we are always buying new linen and clothes because it gets ruined with all the moisturiser.
“Any money raised from the campaign will go on buying things to make her life easier, from clothing to bedding, treatments and more.
“We’ve already gone through two washing machines in seven months because of the damage caused to it from the Vaseline she needs on her skin – that’s even after we’ve soaked the clothes in hot water too.
“In the future, I would like to get her a Nano Silk Microbath, which is a device that will help to exfoliate her skin, making it come off easier and reduce the chance of her getting cuts.
“As her mum I want to give her the most comfortable, happy and painless life I can make for her.”
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