Boy, 7, constantly sheds skin ‘like a snake’ due to rare, incurable condition

A seven-year-old boy has been described as "extremely brave" as he is always smiling, despite suffering from an agonising condition that sees him shed his skin "like a snake".

Kai Clay has the rare and incurable condition Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris (PRP) that causes constant inflammation and scaling of the skin, dry eyes and thickened palms and soles, which often crack and bleed.

The condition is believed to affect only one in 400,000 people and puts him at risk of life-threatening blood infections, leaving his mum, Nikita Clay, 27, "heartbroken" at the thought of him having to deal with it for his entire life.

However, she admits her "little warrior's" resilience "blows her mind daily" as he battles on – rarely complaining and always smiling.

Nikita, from Alfreton, Derbyshire, said: "I just find it mind-blowing how a seven-year-old kid can be so strong and brave about it and just smile through it all. It makes me feel so proud of him.

"Kai is shedding skin daily – his whole body is very flaky so when he wakes up in the morning there's dead skin all over his bed.

"His skin is red raw and gets pustules, which can get infected. It's so itchy and uncomfortable constantly for him.

"He has really thick scaly skin on his scalp, hands and bottom of his feet, so sometimes that will crack and bleed and make it very uncomfortable just to do daily activities and he loses quite a lot of hair as well.

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"His eyelids also turn inside out and go really red, dry and sore to the point that it's really hard to open and close his eyes."

Kai was six months old when he first started showing symptoms of the condition, with rashes on his neck, arms and legs.

At four years old his skin got worse – the dry patches spread to cover most of his body and became covered in infected pustules that developed into a life-threatening blood infection.

He was checked over by a dermatologist and treated with antibiotics before a skin biopsy finally confirmed the diagnosis of the incurable condition, PRP.

Nikita said: "When I sat down and spoke to the doctor, he explained how rare the disease is and that there isn't a cure, so there isn't going to be a long-term fix.

"So, then I was heartbroken for Kai knowing he's got to deal with this for the rest of his life. It was awful when I actually realised how serious it was.

"Mainly I deal with it at home, but the pustules can get infected and then it can go into his blood.

"He's had a blood infection once and it was absolutely petrifying so if he ever gets the pustules, I take him straight to the hospital so they can pump antibiotics into him."

Kai now has to have three eye drops a day, a steroid cream once or twice a day, a moisturising cream three times a day and a bath in ointments every night to manage his condition.

He also has a tablet daily and an injection every two weeks of pain relief medication but even with that he often misses weeks of school at a time during painful flare-ups.

During these difficult periods, he also struggles to do things he usually enjoys, including playing with his three-year-old brother, Keo.

Despite everything he puts up with and misses out on, the "little warrior" powers through all of his bad days and treatment with a big smile on his face.

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