By GARDY CHACHA
A disease that makes use of darkness as real medicine
This condition mostly affects the eyes and areas of skin exposed to the sun.
The signs of xeroderma pigmentosum usually appear in infancy or early childhood.
Many affected children develop severe sunburn after spending just a few minutes in the sun. The sunburn causes redness and blistering that can last for weeks.
By the age of two, almost all children with xeroderma pigmentosum develop freckling of the skin even if they were to be kept in darkness, which is the only sure way of avoiding its effects.
Exposed areas (such as the face, arms and lips) usually develop leopard-like marks when a baby is still small because it’s difficult to avoid light.
In affected individuals, exposure to sunlight often causes dry skin (xeroderma) and changes in skin colouring (pigmentation). This combination of features gives the condition its name ¬— xeroderma pigmentosum.
People with xeroderma pigmentosum have a greatly increased risk of developing skin cancer. Without sun protection, about half of children with this condition develop their first skin cancer by the age of ten.
Most people with xeroderma pigmentosum develop multiple skin cancers during their lifetime.