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The Sutton Coldfield girl who loses her skin 14 times every day
Annabelle is smothered with cream every day to make her condition bearable

A five-year-old Sutton Coldfield girl with a rare genetic disorder has to wear bandages all the time because she sheds her skin 14 times a day.

Annabelle Whitehouse from Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham,West Midlands, was diagnosed with Ichthyosis, which has caused the youngster's skin to turn red, sore and flaky since her birth.

Her parents Sonia and Paul smother her in cream to make the condition bearable for the active youngster.

Annabelle's parents want to ensure she leads as normal a life as possible, which includes attending local ballet classes
They also try to protect their daughter from cruel jibes made by strangers.
Full -time mother Sonia, 45, said: 'Once when we were on holiday, a taxi driver asked if we had put Annabelle in the microwave. Others have even accused us of allowing her to get badly sunburned.

'A taxi driver asked if we had put Annabelle in the microwave.'
'We spend so much time each day caring for Annabelle that we find it incomprehensible people would accuse us of deliberately allowing her to come to harm.'
When Annabelle was born she was covered in a thick armoured casing of skin - called a collodian membrane - which squashed her ears, nose, hands and feet.

Eventually it lifted away after special medical treatment and the couple were able to see their child's features for the first time.

But Sonia and director Paul, 59, must now perform a gruelling care regime to battle the disorder.

Annabelle must have cream applied to her face and hands every 30 minutes because they are exposed to the elements
Annabelle's parents have to cream her daily and wrap her in bandages to ensure her skin does not harden or crack open, which can create painful wounds. An average person sheds their skin over 23 days.
Mother-of-two Sonia said: 'When Annabelle was born we knew straight away that something was wrong. The room fell silent and I thought she was dead at one point.
'She was quickly diagnosed with Ichthyosis by a doctor at the hospital who had worked in Africa and who had seen the condition over there.
Annabelle with her mother Sonia, who has to smother her in cream to make the condition bearable
'It turned out that both Paul and I were carriers of the gene that causes the condition but it was a three in one million chance that any of our children would get the illness.

'We were worried sick because we didn't know what would happen.

'I wondered if Annabelle would ever go to school, find a boyfriend, have friends or live a normal life.'

For nine months the couple applied cream to their fragile daughter every hour, day and night.

But after an improvement in her condition the brave youngster is now creamed and bandaged four times a day. Her hands and face are treated every 30 minutes because they are left exposed.
Despite her condition, Sonia and Paul want Annabelle to live a normal life like her eight year-old sister Lydia - who does not have the condition.
Annabelle is able to do things such as ballet and horse riding, but initially it was not easy for the little girl to cope with her skin condition.

'At around the age of four she started asking questions,' Sonia said.

'She would say "mummy I want skin like yours" and once she was found hiding in her nursery trying to take off her bandages.

'She said "I want to be like everyone else". But a child psychologist really did help her and we tell her she's beautiful.'
Annabelle is helping to raise awareness of childrens genetic disorders with the UK children's charity Jeans for Genes. For more information or to make a donation visit www.jeansforgenesday.com

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Posted On:  04 October, 2010
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