People In Brazil Whose Skin Melt Away Under The Sun

People pay to get their share of sunshine by spending their vacation in the sun-soaked beaches.It is common to find vacationers, sprawled on the sand and soaking in the sun at all the famous beaches of the world. This exposure to the sun in normal human beings gets them a suntan due to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. However, an extended exposure can land one with a severe case of sunburn.

You will be shocked and surprised to know that the people of the city of Araras, Brazil, home to a tropical farming community that survives on outdoor work, have been struck by a strange type of disease that melts the skin under a little bit of the sun. This disease is called xeroderma pigmentosum – XP, for short. Although it affects one in a million people, it has afflicted almost 3% of the population of this village. 

This disease is caused due to mutation of genes responsible for repairing damaged DNA. The reason for this gene mutation is exposure to UV rays from the sun and toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke. The mutation prevents the genes in the normal cells from repairing the damaged DNA, giving rise to XP.

The symptoms displayed by XP include severe sunburn under little exposure to the sun; adverse effect on eyes, making them sun sensitive, irritated, bloodshot and clouded; development of freckles at a young age; appearance of small patches on the skin that can either be light or dark, or pink or red, termed actinic keratosis or solar keratoses; and skin cancers. 

Some cases in this village are so severe that the victims had to get plastic patches surgically placed in place of the melted skin. Only when this genetic defect is rectified, will the coming generations get rid of this horrid disease.

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