Real life ‘Mermaid Baby’ battles rare scales condition

Team Be

An adorable baby with a rare condition that causes her to grow scales and shed them off like a snake has been dubbed a real life ‘mermaid baby’ by her doting mum.

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Maryam Bibi, from Birmingham, West Midlands, has ichthyosis, which causes her skin to grow ten times quicker than normal, making it extremely dry and flaky.

Her parents Maira Bibi , 21, and Azmat Khan, 25, initially believed she had eczema due to her red-raw skin that was covered in a shiny layer, called a collodion membrane.

Maryam's mum has affectionately called her a 'mermaid baby'. Photo: Maira Bibi/Caters

“Her skin grows way faster than normal peoples, so much so that it forms a layer which then sheds off and comes back again,” said Maira.

“Once her skin begins to peel it turns a darker colour and get thicker before shedding off into pieces.”

After spending nearly three weeks in NICU when she was born, Maryam was diagnosed with her condition, a genetic skin disorder which affects one in 600,000.

'She was red raw and shiny like a plastic doll,' says mum Maira of her newborn daughter. Photo: Maira Bibi/Caters

Her parents now spend up to three hours a day moisturising her skin from head to toe to stop it from cracking.

“She used to have cracks appear over her body within the space of a few hours, like little slits, but now we’ve got used to constantly keeping her moisturised,” explained her mum.

“Her skin reminds me of fish scales, because the patterns are such different colours when it’s drying and then that skin peels off just like a snake.

Maryam is now seven months old and gets moisturised four times a day. Photo: Maira Bibi/Caters

“But I like to think she’s like a mermaid because of the appearance of her skin and the how smooth the scales feel.”

Maira initially struggled with strangers staring at her daughter, but recently has become proud and answers questions about the condition.

“At first it was difficult to deal with everyone looking at her so I would try to cover her head in public but now I’m confident going out with her,” said Maira.

“There was a lot of staring at first, most people believed she had eczema and made comments, I much prefer people coming up and asking questions.

“Her skin is a lot thinner now and thanks to our moisturising routine it’s less noticeable - before you could tell a mile away that something was wrong.

“Despite her looking different it was love at first sight, I wouldn’t have expected her to have these problems but couldn’t imagine our lives any other way now.”

Maryam's family are now campaigning to help her on her health journey. Photo:

Maira says the family regularly buy new clothes and bedsheets for her due to the damage caused by the Vaseline they apply to their daughter’s skin, and they are now fundraising to help them with costs.

“We’ve already gone through two washing machines in seven months because of the damage caused to it from the Vaseline she needs on her skin – that’s even after we’ve soaked the clothes in hot water too,” she said.

“Any money raised from the campaign will go on buying things to make her life easier, from clothing to bedding, treatments and more.

“As her mum I want to give her the most comfortable, happy and painless life I can make for her.”

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