Nguyen Thi Phuong was 23 years old when she switched medications to treat an itchy allergic reaction to seafood. A mixture of drugs left her skin sagging and wrinkled in a matter of days.
It all began when the young lady from Giong Trom district of Ben Tre province ate some seafood.
It made her face break out into an itchy rash so bad, that she used to scratch her face even in sleep, Phuong told Tuoi Tre, a major Vietnamese daily newspaper where the news first broke.
To alleviate the symptoms, she ate some medication her husband, Nguyen Thanh Tuyen, 34, bought her.
The medications did not work. She then visited a local doctor, who prescribed her pills for dermatitis.
The pills made her face swell up and hives erupt on her skin. She stopped taking them after a week, and turned to some traditional Chinese medicine practitioners in town.
Neighbors said Phuong, now 26, is unrecognisable from her former self; her voice and black hair are the sole indicators of her true age, Tuoi Tre News reported.
The exact cause of the Vietnamese woman’s rapid aging still had doctors scrambling for answers, pointing at either a rare condition called lipodystrophy or a side effect of too much steroid medication.
Lipodystrophy is 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 UK Daily Telegraph explained.
A recent trip to Ho Chi Minh City Medicine and Pharmacy University Hospitalreveals Phuong might be suffering from mastocytosis, an incurable disorder caused by the presence of too many mast cells, the Thanh Nien News reports.
Additional tests are needed to confirm if Phuong has the disorder before she starts treatment, but doctors are optimistic about the possible results.
Treatment might be able to restore about 50 percent to 70 percent of her skin, according to Thanh Nien News.
Phuong and her husband have stayed together throughout the odd ordeal, although the couple has waited on having children.
“He still loves me like before despite the fact that I look old and ugly. With him, I feel more confident to live and work,” Phuong told the newspaper. [via Huff Post, Wikileaks and The Daily Telegraph]