A 32-year-old British man says he feels like a “zombie” due to a rare condition that causes painful, pus-filled sores to form on his face and various parts of his body.
Steve Young, of Devon, was diagnosed with pyoderma gangrenosum (PG) over the summer, roughly 18 months after desperately searching for what was causing the ulcers to form on his body.
Young, who had reportedly given up his job due to the condition, claims he has attempted suicide twice. The man also told the Daily Mail it takes him roughly 30 minutes to dress his sores each day. He is also reluctant to leave home, as he often is subject to stares and comments from other people.
“It’s completely ruined my life, I feel like a prisoner in my own home. I’ve said to myself that I look like a zombie,” Young said.
"It's the worst pain I've ever felt in my life,” he added. “The only way to describe it is that it's like someone sticking in knives at various points across your body continuously.”
PG is a rare inflammatory skin disorder that affects an estimated 1 in 100,000 people in the U.S., according to the National Organization of Rare Disorders. Those with PG develop red bumps and blisters that eventually form into swollen, open sores.
“The size and depth of the ulcerations vary greatly, and they are often extremely painful,” the organization states.
The cause of PG is unknown, but those with underlying health conditions – namely autoimmune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease – are more likely to develop it.
Young told the outlet he first noticed sores forming on his face in December 2017, but it took months before he received the PG diagnosis. In the interim, the ulcers on his face, chest, arms continued to form and did not go away with various antibiotic treatments.
Treatment for the condition – which can’t totally be prevented, according to the Mayo Clinic – does exist. Different medications, such as corticosteroids and steroid-sparing drugs, are often used to control a patient’s PG. But even with treatment, “it’s common for new wounds to develop,” the clinic states.
“I've tried all sorts of medication and nothing seems to work,” he said, noting he’s gained weight as a result of the steroids he takes for PG.
“All I want is to live a normal life and get back to work. For the condition to go away would be the world's best Christmas present,” added Young. "It would be a breath of fresh air.”