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'Tree Man' returns to hospital as 'roots' grow in new parts of his hands, feet

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Dhaka, Jan 23: Abul Bajandar, widely known as the 'Tree Man' of Bangladesh for the bark-like growths on his body returned to hospital on Sunday after his condition worsened.

This Tree Man returns to hospital as roots grow in new parts of his hands, feet

Abul had been suffering from Epidermodysplasia verruciformis (EV), a genetic condition that made his skin susceptible to the human papillomavirus (HPV), resulting in raised bark-like warts on the body.

Abul Bajandar has had 25 surgeries since 2016 to remove the growths from his hands and feet at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

Doctors were on the verge of declaring their treatment a success before a sudden relapse prompted Bajandar to flee the clinic in May without notifying staff.

But on Sunday he was readmitted to the hospital after his condition deteriorated, with the growths now covering almost the entirety of his hands and feet, the 28-year-old said.

The father of one suffers from epidermodysplasia verruciformis, an extremely rare genetic condition also known as "tree-man syndrome."

What is EV or Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis?

EV is a rare genetic condition, which leaves the skin more vulnerable to the HPV subtypes 5 and 8. It causes the skin to develop thick bark-like warts, which can spread from one site to another.

The disease usually manifests in the youth, where hyperpigmented or hypopigmented warts develop progressively over the years. But apart from causing disability in patients, the disease can also increase the chances of skin cancer - non-melanoma skin cancers in 30-60 percent of the patients in the sun-exposed areas of their body.

What are the causes of EV?

EV is a genetic disease, which is passed on from blood relatives. Around 10 percent of patients have the disease may have inherited from a shared, common ancestor. People with EV generally have an impaired immune response to the HPV that causes the disease.

How is EV treated?

There's no cure for the disease. Treatment includes surgically removing plaques and lesions, but there's no guarantee that they won't return. Surgeons typically scoop out the warts with a curette, keeping the skin under the lesions intact.

Other methods such as cryotherapy, where the warts are frozen off to remove them, and liquid nitrogen are also used in treating EV.

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