Mystery fingernail illness - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Mystery fingernail illness

    It's hard enough for many to deal with hair loss, but imagine the difficulty coping with a bizarre skin disease where fingernails grow... where there should be hair.

    That's the case for one woman in Memphis, Tennessee. Today, 3 years after her ordeal began, doctors still can not figure out this medical mystery.

     Shanyna Isom was in law school when she had an allergic reaction to steroids after an asthma attack. Within hours, she was itching all over and hard, little bumps were appearing on her legs. Doctors at Johns Hopkins Medical Center have figured out those bumps have the same composition as fingernails.

     Shanyna explains it like this: "Where hair grows, nails are growing. I couldn't sit up I couldn't walk. Now I can walk with a cane and sometimes I can walk on my own. As of right now I am the only one in the world with my illness."

     Shanyna's better now, but her illness still doesn't have a name.

     Doctors at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore have determined that for some reason, she makes 12 times the number of skin cells per hair follicle...which produces human nails where hair should grow.

     Researchers are still working to find a cure and better treatment.

     In the meantime,  Shanyna has established the S.-A.-I. foundation:

     She's hoping to raise money to help others like her who are the first to suffer from an unknown illness.

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