Here is a case of a child being born with the rare but devastating disease known as Harlequin Ichthyosis. In this disorder, the baby’s skin does not develop properly, instead forming into thick plates separated by deep fissures. With the skin being like this, the body lacks the necessary moisture and causes the infant a great deal of pain. The disorder also causes the mouth and eyelids to become malformed, turning inside out, giving them the trademark “tomato eyes” and turning the mouth into a disturbing “smile”. Some believe these facial features to be what inspired the name while others maintain that the roughly diamond-shaped plates were reminiscent of the diamond-patterned suits Harlequin jesters once wore.
There is no cure for the disease but skin grafts are possible in certain cases. Regardless, the child will need 24 hour care and a steady supply of moisturizers and doctor’s visits for the rest of it’s life. While the disease can be detected in utero, it cannot be prevented. It is believed to be caused by a mutation in specific genes. The good news is that it is not a death sentence like it once was. Children with this condition can grow into adulthood albeit with severe deformities and in constant need of medical attention.