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‘Fish Boy’: Chinese Boy Suffers From Rare Skin Disorder, Covered Head to Toe in Scales

Jul 31, 2013 01:29 AM EDT

A young boy in China has been dubbed "Fish Boy" because he is covered head-to-toe in itchy scales. As reported in Huffington Post, the boy suffers from a severe case of ichthyosis, after the ancient Greek word for fish, which is a rare and inherited skin disease that is as of now, incurable.

Pan Xianhang, who is just 8 years old, was born with a rare and incurable genetic disease that sees skin cracking all over his body. According to, it also affects his ability to sweat, "causing him to 'overheat.' He is also always at risk from secondary skin infections which could lead to systemic infections if not treated properly."

Most ichthyosis sufferers develop dry scaly skin across part of their body, but Pan's case is severe: his scales have affected the shape of his eyes, nose, mouth and ears - and they limit the movement of his arms and legs. Sufferers are treated with creams, oils and moisturizers, which are designed to hydrate the skin.

The boy's mother told El Periodico that she wants her son to be able to go to school without the constant need to scratch.

A similar case was documented by a British channel which followed the story of a Vietnamese teenager Minh Anh, who was abandoned as a baby after he was born with a severe form of Ichthyosis. The documentary is called "The Boy They Call Fish" and can be seen below.

According to the Foundation for Icthyosis and Related Skin Types (FIRST), "the ichthyoses (plural) are a family of genetic diseases characterized by dry, thickened, scaling skin." The incidence of this painful condition is somewhere between one in 250 and one in 5,000, or about 16,000 babies born with this condition each year, though symptoms are not always seen at birth.

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