Archive for April 16th, 2009

Do I make you horny?

wang-the-human-unicorn-2My piece on cutaneous horns went live today on’s Body Odd blog. 

What exactly are cutaneous horns?  According to Dr. Clay J. Cockerell, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, they’re a rare malfunction of the body that can occur in response to an  injury or some type of disease.

“The topmost part of the skin is the stratum corneum — it protects the body,” Dr. Cockerell told me in a phone interview. “But if the stratum corneum is damaged due to disease or something along those lines, then it can actually make a different kind of layer.”

Sometimes that layer can blister or become white and scaly, similar in appearance to a psoriasis outbreak. Other times it can become as thick as the hide of an elephant or a rhinoceros. Or start to form a very thick cornified layer in an upward spine or spike. That’s when you get a cutaneous horn, such as the 14-inch spike sported by the Chinese farmer (pictured at top) who appeared in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! in the 1930s as (naturally) Wang, the Human Unicorn.

Cutaneous horns don’t just grow on your head, though. They can occur all over the body and have been reported on the nose, eyelid, ear, lip, chest, neck, shoulder, forearm, leg and hand. They’ve even been found on the penis, in fact, one poor guy in India had multiple cutaneous horns on his penis.

For the full story — including some fun history — click here.

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I'm a former freelance writer, now gainfully employed at Fred Hutch (views and f-bombs all my own).

I write about health and health care; cancer research and the cancer experience; dating, lifestyle and singles issues and lots of other stuff including humor and fiction and a few songs here and there.

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How to Date in a Post-Dating World A dating manual for the modern, mangled single.

Single State of the Union
Single women speak out on life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

Fifty Shades of Brains
Sex. Zombies. Really annoying present tense narration.

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April 2009