By SARA MALM
PUBLISHED: 07:19 EST, 9 August 2012 | UPDATED: 07:19 EST, 9 August 2012
- Shanyna Isom’s body is covered in hard scabs suffocating her skin
- All hair on her body had been replaced by ‘nails’
- Doctors have no clue as to what the disease is or how to cure it
- Treatment has bankrupted her and her family and left her with £160,000 unpaid medical bills
A young woman has been labelled a medical mystery after falling victim to an unidentified illness which causes human nails to grow out of her hair follicles.
Shanyna Isom, 28, suffered an allergic reaction three years ago which caused the debilitating syndrome which has left her struggling to walk and carry out daily chores.
The university student was left covered in hard scabs as ‘nails’ replaced the hair on her body and doctors are still in the dark about how to cure Shanyna’s mysterious illness.
Unknown: Shanyna Isom has lost all the hair on her head to the vicious mystery illness and wears a wig and hat to cover it
Shanyna Isom lives with her family in Memphis and was in her first year at university when the nightmare began.
In September 2009 she was prescribed steroids after suffering an asthma attack and within hours the law student was ‘itching’ all over her body.
Soon black bumps covered her legs and doctors treated her for everything from eczema to Staphylococcal infection to no avail.
Shanyna became bedridden as the illness took over and doctors tried to determine what was wrong.
In 2011 she began treatment in Baltimore where doctors established that the bumps were in fact human nails slowly covering Shanyna’s body.
Condition: Instead of hair, human nails grow out of her hair follicles, but doctor’s have yet to establish a cause
Cause not known: Doctors have no explanation as to why Shanyna had this reaction to the steroids
She produces 12 times the normal number of skin cells per hair follicle, suffocating her skin.
‘Where hair grows, nails are growing,’ Shanyna told WAFB news.
Today doctors have yet to diagnose her but have been able to control her symptoms.
‘I couldn’t sit up and I couldn’t walk, but now I can walk with a cane and sometimes I can walk on my own.’
The criminal justice major describes it as a nightmare she is trying to wake up from.
‘They’ve tested me from A to Z and everything was coming back negative.
‘As of right now, I am the only one in the world with my illness.’
Broke: Shanyna and her family have been left bankrupt as a result of her illness and she has nearly £160,000 in unpaid medical bills
The illness has left Shanyna and her family deep in debt as state-issued insurance does not cover her care at the specialist unit she attends in Baltimore and only covers five of the 17 medications she is prescribed.
The family savings accounts are dry and her outstanding medical bills are currently up to £160,000 ($250,000).
Shanyna has set up the S.A.I Foundation to raise money for her treatment but fears she may not be able to continue.
She relies on family and friends for financial help and they have rallied around her for support.
‘At this point I just do everything I can to get the help that’s needed for her,’ her friend Tolungia Webb said.
Shanyna hopes that the foundation will be able to raise enough money to cover her medical bills and help others in the same situation.
She said: ‘If it means me dealing with this to help someone else, I’m willing to go through it.’