The story of a Vietnamese woman who aged 50 years in a matter of days has sparked an Internet debate, arguing if such rapid ageing is possible. Doctors are baffled and medical experts are divided on what could have triggered the condition of the 23-year-old, who now looks like a septuagenarian after the affliction took hold following an allergic reaction to seafood.
Nguyen Thi Phuong, now 26, has claimed that her youthful beauty began to fade over the course of just a few days, leaving her with sagging, wrinkled skin all over her face and body in 2008 and that until now she has apparently been forced to wear a mask in public to hide her appearance.
“I was really itchy all over my body. I had to scratch even while sleeping,’ the Sun quoted her as saying. “After one month of taking the drugs, I became less itchy but hives remained on my skin. Then I switched to traditional medicine and all the hives disappeared, together with my itching. However, my skin began to sag and fold,” she stated.
Phuong also claims to have taken another kind of traditional medicine to treat her rapid-ageing skin problem , but to no avail. “We considered that it was our destiny and I quit treatment in 2009. Now I always wear a facemask whenever I go out.
“The skin on my face, chest and belly have folds like an old woman who has given birth several times although I have never had a child. But the rapid-ageing syndrome hasn’t affected my menstrual cycle, hair, teeth, eyes and mind,” she said.
Doctors are at odds over what condition she has, with some arguing that it is "lipodystrophy" a rare syndrome that causes a layer of fatty tissue beneath the surface of the skin to disintegrate while the skin itself continues to grow at a startling pace.
The syndrome, which has no cure, leaves its victims with loose folds of skin all over their bodies, wrinkled faces and the gaunt features of people decades older, and only 2,000 people throughout the world are thought to have lipodystrophy.