Fact-check: Xeroderma pigmentosum does not cause one’s skin to melt

Fact-check: Xeroderma pigmentosum does not cause one’s skin to melt

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Xeroderma pigmentosum

XP affects the body’s ability to repair DNA damage caused by UV radiation from the sun. However, it does not cause dramatic changes in the skin as claimed on social media.

A Facebook post claims that people in a village in Araras, Brazil, “melt away” due to a disease called Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP). The post contains several misleading and inaccurate statements about are the rare inherited disorder marked by an extreme sensitivity to ultraviolet light, such as from the sun.

While individuals with XP are highly sensitive to sunlight and have an increased risk of skin cancers, there’s no evidence to support the claim that XP causes one’s skin to disappear or melt. XP primarily affects the body’s ability to repair DNA damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. However, it does not cause dramatic changes in the skin as claimed.

Similarly, the statement regarding individuals with XP needing to change day for night to live longer lacks context and supporting evidence. Individuals with XP are advised though to minimise exposure to sunlight and take precautions such as wearing protective clothing and using sunscreen.

Furthermore, the social media post fails to provide specific prevalence data for the disease in Araras, Brazil. It’s important to note that this is a rare genetic disorder and its prevalence rates vary among diverse populations and regions. 

It’s prudent to be wary of such misleading content that uses exaggerated claims to create a sense of panic among the readers. Consult reliable medical sources or seek information from healthcare professionals to gain a factually accurate and scientifically sound understanding of health-related concerns. 

(The author is a First Check member, biologist & writer based in Philippines.)

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Fact-check: Xeroderma pigmentosum does not cause one’s skin to melt

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