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Extreme Epidermis: 7 Skin Conditions

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Skin is the largest organ on the human body, and an amazing number of things can go wrong with it. Here's a menagerie of skin diseases and conditions, all with full-color images that will have you checking yourself in the mirror for weeks. Some of the images are rather graphic. You've been warned.

1. Accessory nipples

Accessory nipples are just what they sound like—extra nipples that below the main nipples. They form in a line, as with the row of teats on a pig. Both boys and girls can get them.

2. Rhinophyma


In rhinophyma, your nose grows out of control, becoming bulbous and enflamed. It is a symptom of advanced acne rosacea, which causes chronic flushing of the face. Both Bill Clinton and W.C. Fields had rosacea, and caricatures of the men often show them having round, ruddy, red noses. Many folks with rhinophyma go on to have nose surgery.

3. Black Hairy Tongue


Black hairy tongue doesn't actually involve hair, nor is it necessarily black. Yeast or bacteria camp out on your tongue, where they produce the characteristic stain and make it appear to be fuzzy. Black is the most common, although many shades are possible, including brown, orange, and white.

4. Leprosy


An ancient disease, leprosy takes years to run its course. It can be 20 years before the first symptoms appear—a stuffy nose, cuts on the skin, and/or numbness—and longer still before the infamous flesh rotting sets in. Interestingly, scholars have been arguing for years (as seen in this 1909 New York Times article) that the leprosy mentioned so prominently in the Bible is not leprosy at all. If treated early, leprosy is highly curable. The World Health Organization has spearheaded a campaign to wipe out leprosy, with efforts now focusing on Brazil, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Nepal.

5. Hypertrichosis Lanuginosa


A diagnosis of hypertrichosis lanuginosa means you have hair growing all over your body—hair that is long, thick, and everywhere it should not be. The illness can be either inherited or acquired. The inherited form, known as Abras Syndrome, goes way back in history, according to medical historians. For instance, an extremely hirsute young man named Petrus Gonzalez from the Canary Islands was captured and "given" as a freak-show gift to the French nobility—who realized that there was nothing wrong with the guy except that he was completely covered in shaggy hair. They gave Gonzalez a castle, where he started family. Their portraits of Gonzalez show that many of his descendants inherited Abras Syndrome from him. The acquired form of hypertrichosis lanuginosa cause the fine hairs that your have on your face and elsewhere to thicken and lengthen. This condition is very rare. When it does occur, it's often as a result of cancer.

6. Cornu Cutaneum


Imagine looking into the mirror one morning—and seeing a horn sprouting from your head! That's the unfortunate predicament of folks with cornu cutaneum. These conical growths aren't actual horns, but rather tumors, sometimes benign and sometimes cancerous. But they look like horns, and that's the problem. One doctor described a patient with a horn three inches long (despite occasional trimmings) that had been developing for 30 years!

7. Human Papillomavirus


The human papillomavirus, often in the news for its association with cervical cancer, also causes numerous kinds of warts. In one extreme case, an Indonesian man with HPV developed pounds of thick, gray, bark-like warts. Since doctors hacked away the growths, the gentleman, Dede Koswara, has quit his job in a freak show and started searching for a wife.

[Most of these photos came from Johns Hopkins' online DermAtlas, which contains over 10,000 pictures of skin diseases.]


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Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Paw Enforcement: A History of McGruff the Crime Dog
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Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Jack Keil, executive creative director of the Dancer Fitzgerald Sample ad agency, was stuck in a Kansas City airport at three in the morning when he started thinking about Smokey Bear. Smokey was the furred face of forest fire prevention, an amiable creature who cautioned against the hazards of unattended campfires or errant cigarette butts. Everyone, it seemed, knew Smokey and heeded his words.

In 1979, Keil’s agency had been tasked with coming up with a campaign for the recently-instituted National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), a nonprofit organization looking to educate the public about crime prevention. If Keil could create a Smokey for their mission, he figured he would have a hit. He considered an elephant who could stamp out crime, or a rabbit who was hopping mad about illegal activity.

A dog seemed to fit. Dogs bit things, and the NCPC was looking to take a bite out of crime. Keil sketched a dog reminiscent of Snoopy with a Keystone Cop-style hat.

Back at the agency, people loved the idea but hated the dog. In a week’s time, the cartoon animal would morph into McGruff, the world-weary detective who has raised awareness about everything from kidnapping to drug abuse. While he no longer looked like Snoopy, he was about to become just as famous.

In 1979, the public service advertising nonprofit the Ad Council held a meeting to discuss American paranoia. Crime was a hot button issue, with sensational reports about drugs, home invasions, and murders taking up the covers of major media outlets like Newsweek and TIME. Surveys reported that citizens were concerned about crime rates and neighborhood safety. Respondents felt helpless to do anything, since more law enforcement meant increased taxes.

To combat public perception, the Ad Council wanted to commit to an advertising campaign that would act as a preventive measure. Crime could not be stopped, but the feeling was that it could be dented with more informed communities. Maybe a clean park would be less inviting to criminals; people might need to be reminded to lock their doors.

What people did not need was a lecture. So the council enlisted Dancer Fitzgerald Sample to organize a campaign that promoted awareness in the most gentle way possible. Keil's colleagues weighed in on his dog idea; someone suggested that the canine be modeled after J. Edgar Hoover, another saw a Superman-esque dog that would fly in to interrupt crime. Sherry Nemmers and Ray Krivascy offered an alternative take: a dog wearing a trench coat and smoking a cigar, modeled in part after Peter Falk’s performance as the rumpled TV detective Columbo.

Keil had designs on getting Falk to voice the animated character, but the actor’s methodical delivery wasn’t suited to 30-second commercials, so Keil did it himself. His scratchy voice lent an authoritarian tone, but wasn't over-the-top.

The agency ran a contest on the back of cereal boxes to name the dog. “Sherlock Bones” was the most common submission, but "McGruff"—which was suggested by a New Orleans police officer—won out.

Armed with a look, a voice, and a name, Nemmers arranged for a series of ads to run in the fall of 1980. In the spots, McGruff was superimposed over scenes of a burglary and children wary of being kidnapped by men in weather-beaten cars. He advised people to call the police if they spotted something suspicious—like strangers taking off with the neighbor’s television or sofa—and to keep their doors locked. He sat at a piano and sang “users are losers” in reference to drug-abusing adolescents. (The cigar had been scrapped.)

Most importantly, the NCPC—which had taken over responsibility for McGruff's message—wanted the ads to have what the industry dubbed “fulfillment.” At the end, McGruff would advise viewers to write to a post office box for a booklet on how to prevent crime in their neck of the woods.

A lot of people did just that. More than 30,000 booklets went out during the first few months the ads aired. McGruff’s laconic presence was beginning to take off.

By 1988, an estimated 99 percent of children ages six to 12 recognized McGruff, putting him in Ronald McDonald territory. He appeared on the ABC series Webster, in parades, and in thousands of personal appearances around the country, typically with a local police officer under the suit. (The appearances were not without danger: Some dogs apparently didn't like McGruff and could get aggressive at the sight of him.)

As McGruff aged into the 1990s, his appearances grew more sporadic. The NCPC began targeting guns and drugs and wasn’t sure the cartoon dog was a good fit, so his appearances were limited to the end of some ad spots. By the 2000s, law enforcement cutbacks meant fewer cops in costume, and a reduced awareness of the crime-fighting canine. When Keil retired, an Iowa cop named Steve Parker took over McGruff's voice duties.

McGruff is still in action today, aiding in the NCPC’s efforts to raise awareness of elder abuse, internet crimes, and identity theft. The organization estimates that more than 4000 McGruffs are in circulation, though at least one of them failed to live up to the mantle. In 2014, a McGruff performer named John Morales pled guilty to possession of more than 1000 marijuana plants and a grenade launcher. He’s serving 16 years in prison.

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Watch a Panda Caretaker Cuddle With Baby Pandas While Dressed Up Like a Panda
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Some people wear suits to work—but at one Chinese nature reserve, a handful of lucky employees get to wear panda suits.

As Travel + Leisure reports, the People's Daily released a video in July of animal caretakers cuddling with baby pandas at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China's Sichuan Province. The keepers dress in fuzzy black-and-white costumes—a sartorial choice that's equal parts adorable and imperative to the pandas' future success in the wild.

Researchers raise the pandas in captivity with the goal of eventually releasing them into their natural habitat. But according to The Atlantic, human attachment can hamper the pandas' survival chances, plus it can be stressful for the bears to interact with people. To keep the animals calm while acclimating them to forest life, the caretakers disguise their humanness with costumes, and even mask their smell by smearing the suits with panda urine and feces. Meanwhile, other keepers sometimes conceal themselves by dressing up as trees.

Below, you can watch the camouflaged panda caretakers as they cuddle baby pandas:

[h/t Travel + Leisure]


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