Friday, July 21, 2017

There Have Been A Small Number Of People With Blue Skin

There is a recessive genetic condition that causes people to have blue tinted skin and purple lips, but because it is rare, it ordinarily isn't observed outside inbred communities such as one that existed in the early to mid-20th century in Eastern Kentucky in the Fugate family. These people were known as the Blue Fugates who were the descendants of a family that settled in Kentucky in 1820.

About half of their children had a condition called methemoglobinemia which caused people with the condition to carry less oxygen in their blood by the chemistry of their blood differs from a typical person. The condition is also associated with developmental delay and seizures. But, the effect was largely cosmetic in this family, not materially influencing their health, causing pain, or reducing life expectancy or fertility.

The cosmetic effect was easily cured nearly instantly but temporarily, first with an injected dye, but later with methylene blue dye tablets taken daily, which gave them an ordinary skin color. The conditions was particularly stigmatizing because it was understood to be connected with undue inbreeding (which was, in fact, present in the family).

[Edited and shortened to remove quoted material in order to address DCMA copyright notice concerns on October 22, 2018.]