Two brothers suffer from rare condition leaving their skin cracked like scales

Two brothers in the Philippines are covered in scale-like skin that cracks due to a rare birth defect.

Suaib Galumabao, 14, was diagnosed with a severe genetic disorder called harlequin ichthyosis in Maguindanao province, a few years after he was born.

As he aged, the skin around his face tightened forcing her eyelids and lips to turn inside out.

His mother, Merimbae, 30, had a second child who was born healthy but she was devastated upon giving birth to her third baby Abdulraffi, who is now three-years-old and has started also suffering from the skin condition.

Only one in every 300,000 babies born worldwide could be inflicted with the disorder but it has been diagnosed twice among Merimbae’s sons.

The mother-of-four said she did not have enough money for pre-natal check ups so her children’s conditions were worse as they were not detected early during pregnancy.

She said: ‘I was not checked by specialists during my pregnancy because we had no money for the medical costs.

‘I thought I was having a normal pregnancy with both children. I did not feel anything strange during the whole time I was carrying them.

‘I was shocked when my eldest son was born and even more upset when it happened again to my third son.’

Merimbae added the siblings both love swimming in freshwater lakes and rivers because they feel uncomfortable if their skin turns dry.

She said: ‘My children have been brave living with their unique condition. They love swimming or taking baths because their skin becomes painful when it dries up.’

There is no cure for harlequin ichthyosis until now but its symptoms could be managed through medicines to make life comfortable for the two boys.

However, mother Merimbae said they never had a hospital visit since her eldest was born due to financial constraints.

She said: ‘I want to make life comfortable for my children but I don’t know where to start. I am thankful that some people give us some groceries and food for my children but I hope we could take them to doctors someday.’