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Body Horror / Real Life

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Damn, nature, you scary!

Warning: This page contains Squick and Paranoia Fuel. Brain Bleach is recommended.

  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Your body's immune system is depleted of special white blood cells that fend off infections because of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This results in your body becoming vulnerable to a variety of infectious diseases. You can also look forward to severe weight loss (wasting), dementia, blindness and other conditions.
    • The worst part is that AIDS itself isn't what kills you. It's all the other diseases flooding into the body that do it.
    • Thankfully, in modern healthcare systems, HIV is no longer a death sentence, as it was in the 1980s, and so this has become a Discredited Trope for many people. However, this is not the case for many people in poorer or war-torn countries with no access to such healthcare.
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  • Lupus, where your immune system begins attacking healthy tissue and organs; Michael Jackson was a notorious victim of it, with the disease now believed to have been a factor in his significant weight loss and dramatic changes in facial structure (nosejobs and chin dimpling aside).
  • The Great Leader of North Korea, Kim Il-sung was always portrayed looking slightly to his right in state media so that the right side of his neck was not visible. Here's why. This was a large calcium deposit. He developed it later in life and tried to hide it, until it grew to the baseball-sized protuberance you see here.
  • Teratomas. Think of a tumor, but composed of some of the fundamental parts of the human body, which includes bone, hair, and teeth. Even worse, they sometimes contain brain, liver, and lung tissues, as well as half-formed legs, eyes and HANDS.
    • They are also described as looking like damaged fetuses. There is a reason that their name translates to "monster tumor".
    • They can also be life-threatening, as your immune system will be confused when encountered with the other bodily cells and actually attack the original organs, such as the aforementioned brain. Teratoma-induced attacks on the brain are in fact recognized as a leading cause of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, an autoimmune disease famously described as like having your brain on fire. Immature teratomas can also become cancerous. On the other hand, most teratomas, while distinctly off-putting, are essentially harmless.
  • Parry-Romberg syndrome: Abnormally weak skin and skin tissue on the face begin to slowly recede in unexpectedly. Basically, your face can cave in slowly and unexpectedly. Oh, and it's not a genetic disorder or related to any unhealthy/healthy habit. It can happen to anyone.
    • Lipodystrophy is a similar disease (in that it also caves your face in), but it's due to facial fat loss AND typically only happens in abusers of prescription drugs. The result is horrific, to say the least.
  • Argyria is what happens when you're overexposed to silver. Let's just say that the result smurfin' weird.
  • Fetus in Fetu: a pregnancy with twins where one twin is literally inside the other unborn fetus, as if the other fetus is pregnant with the first. These babies-in-babies are alive, parasitic, but not sentient. (A dissection of one such fetus revealed that it didn't even have a brain in its cranial cavity.)
  • Phossy jaw and its 'brother' Radium jaw. If you'd rather not look it up and risk it, phossy jaw is also known as "phosphorus necrosis of the jaw". Yep, the entire lower part of your face just up and rots away.
    • "How could you get this?" you may ask. Well. Back before it was widely known how toxic those chemicals were, people working in match factories or using radium paint to label aircraft control panels for night flying might be a bit careless about what they put in their mouths. These days, it tends to be commonly associated with people who manufacture certain illegal drugs such as krokodil.
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    • It gets worse; the reason behind the Radium Girl Lawsuit was because the dial painters had been told to put the paintbrushes in their mouths to point them. These being the same paintbrushes that were used for the radium paint.
  • In 2006, a cancer drug called "Theralizumab" was tested on several volunteers. What was meant to be a routine drug trial to test the drug's efficacy quickly became a disaster - it turned out that the drug, in a certain concentration and delivered at too fast a speed, resulted in a horrific anaphylactic reaction known as a cytokine storm. This began with horrific levels of head pain, fever and vomiting. Pretty soon afterwards, the volunteers began to suffer from multiple organ failure and their bodies began to swell up with fluid, which is known as angiodema. One of the victims was described as looking like The Elephant Man as his entire body had an allergic reaction to the drug. Prophylaxis and steroids could only do so much. After a few days in urgent care, all of the patients recovered, but some received life-changing injuries - at least one of them lost the tips of his fingers and pieces of his toes, and others suffered facial deformities, both cases due to tissue necrosis from the stress. The incident was a PR disaster and changed how clinical trials are administered in the United Kingdom, where the tests were conducted, in order to prevent anything like it happening ever again. And as for the "Elephant Man" in question, he was awarded £2m in compensation, but it came at a cost.
  • Necrosis. It has a variety of causes from spider and snake bites to poison and cancer.
  • Look up the highly controversial "Morgellons disease". The patient scratches skin until it breaks; fibers from clothing become trapped in forming clot; patient concludes fibers emerged from skin. See the Wikipedia page on delusional parasitosis, specifically "matchbox sign." The good news is, Morgellons isn't caused by parasites or malfunctioning body chemistry causing your body to somehow manufacture artificial fibers... the bad news is, it's caused by malfunctioning brain chemistry giving you delusions of parasitic infestation disguising the root cause of what you're doing to your own body. Sweet dreams, kids!
  • Vaginal cosmetic surgery. Horror. Sheer horror.
  • Fibrodysplasia ossificans progessiva is a disease that causes damaged tissue to turn to bone. Amongst other horrible things, this disease can be mistaken for simple cancer or fibrosis, which causes doctors to perform a biopsy, which in turn damages tissue and causes more bone growth. For similar reasons, this makes it impossible to remove the bone growth, at least without causing more bone growth.
    • Albert Sabin, who developed the oral vaccine for polio, had a variety of this. He said the pain was so terrible that he wanted to die. When he was cured, he devoted the rest of his life to relieving pain, which he said should be the first goal of medical science.
  • Anencephaly (Squick warning!) is a condition where the neural tube (that forms all of the central nervous system, that is the spinal cord and brain) fails to close properly at the head and the brain never develops fully as a result, resulting in a baby born with a face and neck but no brain or upper skull. Babies with this condition rarely make it to full term, and if they are born, they die in a matter of days.

    If it lives, it's potentially even worse (yes, there are a few cases when a child managed to survive a couple of years. As of March 2016, one is alive with her parents keeping a Facebook blog... view at your own risk note ). Think about it: it means it was living without a brain after being born. It's just... kinda sitting there, with the heart pumping to nothing in the head; a doll that looks human but has no person inside. Empty Shell taken to the literal extreme; Fate Worse than Death doesn't even begin to describe it. But if it makes anyone feel better, at least no brain (at least, no forebrain — the parts of the brain that control things like bodily functions are sill there) implies no mental life, so it's not like the baby "experiences" any of this.
  • The way severe smallpox used to manifest itself could count as "body horror" in and of itself, because of how the bumps formed and covered the body's entire surface. And much like its much more frail and wimpier cousin chickenpox (which was actually named because it was a "chicken", i.e. weaker, version of smallpox), the virus was more severe the older you were at the time of infection. Thankfully, smallpox has been eradicated throughout the world, though people in highly sensitive positions still get smallpox vaccinations in case the virus is used in germ warfare.
  • Myiasis A fly lays eggs in parts of your body, usually in the nose or ear. The eggs hatch, and you have hundreds of maggots eating you alive. It's basically the Real Life equivalent of Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong. Fortunately, it's still much more common in animals than in humans. And treatable.

    Popular media is usually silent on it for being so horrific, but if the animal or human is crippled by a wound or accident far from civilization (or on a battlefield) and if conditions are right (open wounds, dirt, filth, hot climate, favoring blowflies). Where there is dirt, filth, hot climate, but no blowflies are present, the patient may still get a bacterial infection of the skin, which develops into a horrific tropical ulcer (AKA jungle rot). It happens surprisingly often with crippled abandoned pets or farm animals in the field. The unmoving, crippled animal can't swat flies away. This is a highly-probable and nightmarish way to die.
  • Cancer. Imagine having a mass of cells inside your body that grows uncontrollably, a malfunction in its genetic programming makes it never naturally die, can travel through your lymphatic system and take root in places other than where it appeared, and can only be stopped by surgically removing it, bombarding it with radiation or subjecting your entire body to rather poisonous drugs. Stuff of nightmares, it is.

    Even more so if the cancer has gone out of control before being discovered. Think of this: your body has started to rot before you die, and it was too late when you realized this. Now the only treatments available (if not too late) are just as horrible and invasive as the disease, with a high rate of mortality and probably less parts of your body. If you survive, you have to be careful because cancer can spread through your body — any part of it. A good number of cancers are asymptomatic in their early stages, or mimic the symptoms of other illnesses. Meaning that for a good number of people, by the time they realize something's wrong it may already be too late. There's a reason why everybody is always encouraging people to get periodical examination, people...
    • Carcinoma in Cuirasse occurs when a tumour pushes its was through the flesh of the torso. Formerly healthy tissue around the erupting tumour dies and necrotises, so the victim is literally rotting alive and is surrounded by a permanent stink of decay. They don't live long when their cancer reaches this stage, which is a small mercy.
  • The Russian street drug Krokodil, a poor-man's substitute for heroin, causes users to rot alive. Video link, click at your own risk. it's called Krokodil because after a prolonged abuse the skin in the place of injection starts turning green and scaly. The reason it's so corrosive is not the desomorphine itself, but rather the Noodle Implements used to "cook" it from codeine. As if that wasn't bad enough, it is incredibly addictive, meaning that even as the user is watching their skin rot and corrode off, they may not be able to stop using it, even if they want to. Most people who use krokodil don't live for more than 2 or 3 years after they start using it, and those that do survive and manage to stop are often permanently disfigured.
  • Guinea worms. If you drink any water from a river or stream in certain parts of Africa, you can swallow guinea worm larvae which will hatch and grow inside your body. Guinea worms love to pop out of the skin, mostly at extremities, when they grow large enough. The only treatment is to very, very slowly pull the worms out. This is very painful and can take days. Luckily efforts by health groups has almost eradicated guinea worm except for parts of Africa.
    • Worse, if you break the worm while pulling it out, they "have a tendency to putrefy or petrify. Putrefaction leads to the skin sloughing off around the worm. Petrification is a problem if the worm is in a joint or wrapped around a vein or other important area."
  • Abscesses. The only ones worse than the ones that get bigger and bigger and bigger are the ones that don't, because they rupture and spew putrid toxic pus.
    • And then you have to deal with the large, bloody crater it just left behind, which can get infected with any number of things...
  • Raymond Robinson, AKA the Green Man or Charlie No-Face. After a childhood accident he was badly scarred and lost his eyes and nose, one ear, and one arm.
  • Joseph Merrick, better known as the Elephant Man. While he is a perfect physical example of this trope, his actual life story reads like a series of Heartwarming Moments after a certain point. Merrick spent a great deal of time as a circus freak, and when the practice was ultimately outlawed in Europe, he, after having been robbed of his last £50 by a shady manager, would eventually be taken in by a man who had desired to study his condition more closely, Frederick Treves. Rather than treating Merrick as a specimen, he worked to care for the man as a permanent resident of London Hospital. Merrick's case would be spread largely through the actions of Treves and the hospital director, and the resulting outpouring of support from all over London gave him a surprisingly vibrant life (much different from the fictionalization provided in David Lynch's film about the guy), even with the tragic circumstances of his death— due to his deformities, he couldn't sleep lying down because the weight of his head would suffocate him —but he tried to do so anyway, and it would be what claimed his life.
  • Tasmanian Devils are currently severely threatened with extinction by something called Devil Facial Tumor Disease. Essentially, it's contagious cancer, and, as the name implies, the tumors mostly grow on their faces. The results are not pretty. The reason this particular cancer affects primarily the face is directly related to the manner of contagion. Contagious agents that cause cancer have been known for decades (specifically, there are viruses that cause cancer). In this case, however, it's the cancer itself that's transferred. Because Tasmanian Devils bite each other whenever they meet, and the cells of this cancer are transmissible by bite...
    • There is a canine veneral cancer, which is sexually transmissible.
    • There's also a clam leukaemia which is highly transmissible, as dying clams shed the cancerous cells into the water and their neighbours naturally filter them out again, infecting themselves.
  • This, at least, is one Body Horror that most tropers will have survived. (But doesn't it remind you of Alien in some vaguely disturbing way?)
  • Harlequin-type Ichthyosis. Most of these babies don't live more than 2 weeks. (Warning: the first link contains graphic imagery and is not safe for work, viewer discretion advised. Description for the curious but cautious: the first link contains disturbing photographs of babies with thick, pale green skin, bloody eyes, and stiffly open mouths.)
  • The Surinam toad. Taking a bad habit in humans and making it worse, it cracks its bones as a mating call. Even worse: it gives live birth. By the dozens. To fully formed froglets. Who grew from conception to froglet and emerge through pimples in the female's back. This is what the Pokémon Seismitoad is based off of.
  • Iniencephaly. Wiki article. It's a baby with a deflated-looking head.
  • Necrotizing fasciitis, also known by the cheerful name of flesh-eating disease. This disease does exactly what it sounds like—it causes your flesh to putrefy and rot, while it's still on you. Yum. If you're lucky, it attacks an extremity and that extremity gets amputated in time (which is short, this crap can burn through flesh at the rate of one inch per hour). If it attacks your torso, you'll probably die before the doctors can figure out what it is. At least one person (a nurse) did survive an attack that began on her torso, because she figured out what it was in time. They had to use bleach to kill it, while it was burning into her abdominal cavity. In this case, the treatment can be almost as bad as the disease.
    • Fournier gangrene is when necrotizing fasciitis attacks your genitals.
    • The name's a bit poetic; the bacteria doesn't actually eat your flesh. It produces Hollywood Acid as a waste product.
    • The author of Echopraxia suffered a bout of Necrotising Fasciitis. He continues to write about horrifying bioweapons in his books, making it indirect Nightmare Fuel for the rest of us.
    • Fortunately, not every case is this terrible; some cases can be treated through surgical debridement: that is, cutting away all the flesh where the bacteria are found, plus a little extra to be safe. The most famous case of this is Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands 2002-2010, who caught it while still in office in 2004 and made a full recovery.
  • Parasitic fungi in the genus Cordyceps essentially hijack the host's nervous system, forcing it to climb to the highest point they can, where they cling until they die. The best part comes afterwards, when mushrooms sprout from the insect's head, scattering the spores on the wind in search of their next host. What's especially fun to learn after that is that humans often eat those same species of Cordyceps and also use it to make anti-rejection drugs like Neoral. Ophiocordyceps is a related genus that follows the same pattern, and one species is sold for more than its weight in gold as Chinese medicine.
    • Like Seismitoad above, the Pokémon Paras and its evolution Parasect are based on a type of Ophiocordyceps, specifically Ophiocordyceps sinensis (formerly Cordyceps sinensis). Think about it. Paras has two little mushrooms growing on its back. When it evolves into Parasect, a huge mushroom lies growing on its body, with Paras' once normal eyes whitened out...
    • The Last of Us directly draws on this fungus for their Infected. Now you can imagine what a human victim would look like.
  • This Cracked article is about medically created, beneficial body horror. On the surface of it, yes, sewing someone's hand to their leg, growing a jaw on their back, or implanting a tooth in their eye and creating a raw-meat looking eye substitute is all pretty horrifying. But the fact is that they're better off, or will be once the process is finished.
  • The Black Plague. Various white swellings that change color, puking blood, a high fever, and the desire to fall asleep...yeah.
  • Orf, a viral disease that sheep and goats get, forms crusty scabs on their muzzle and lips. It can even be spread to humans. It's also known as "Hoof and Mouth Disease". If left unchecked, it can infect the entire head, and it can survive for six months in soil.
  • Leprosy. Besides the obvious, imagine having your limbs, even your head, being loose enough to fall off your body. Almost all those symptoms are secondary infections. Most people who get leprosy get a small, whitish patch on their skin, and nerve damage (a small percentage get disfiguring nodules all over their skin). The nerve damage affects both sensory and motor nerve fibers. Damage to the motor side causes things like clawed hands (so you end up gripping, say, a hammer with just your fingertips, potentially for hours at a time, causing severe damage to the skin there, eventually causing wounds to form), and the sensory side damage prevents you from feeling injuries, so you're likely to not get them treated or not notice them at all. Pressure sores are dangerous, folks. Without treatment, they cause parts of you body to fall off, and then they will kill you.
  • Cymothoa exigua is a parasitic crustacean which hosts in specific fish species. The crustacean enters the fish through the gills, and lives in its mouth. When there, Cymothoa exigua uses its claws to deprive the fish tongue from blood, causing its atrophy. When the tongue is fully atrophied, Cymothoa exigua replaces it. Essentially, the fish now has a parasite for a tongue.
  • Open cardiac massage. How could anything with the term 'massage' in it possibly be bad? Well, its the last thing ER doctors or OR surgeons do to try to save your life if you go into cardiac arrest from a traumatic cause, like being shot. They cut you in half front to back to midway from the front to your spine, and then spread you open, and reach directly into your thoracic (chest) cavity and squeeze your heart in an attempt to get it to beat. When air is pushed down into your lungs, inflate outside your body. Sometimes it works.
  • Cylindroma, a.k.a. turban tumor syndrome. Imagine horrible, bright red, bulb-like tumors covering your scalp. EEEEEEK.
  • Cyclopia. It's essentially a malformation associated with the brain failing to separate into two hemispheres that leaves the face with only one eye, a la the cyclops of mythology. Babies born with it usually do not survive. It also affects other mammals, the poor things.
  • Epidermodysplasia verruciformis and the most famous guy who has it, the "Treeman". Basically, an infected wound will cause your body to break out in large gray warts and your hands and feet to become warped to the point that they don't resemble natural parts of your body so much as enormous, hideously misshapen lumps with the four or five rhinoceros-esque horns sticking out.
  • Face-eating bony tumors (like the Tasmanian Devils further up the page) like those suffered by at least two people profiled on TV, a guy from somewhere in Russia, and a boy named Novemtree from Indonesia. Imagine your face being one big tumor because several large ones have taken it over. Yeah.
  • Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa. A condition that causes your skin to fall off at the slightest touch. Here's a documentary on the subject.
  • Sacculina, a relative of the humble barnacle. The female parasitises crabs, by injecting itself through their carapace and using the host to protect its own brood. It doesn't want the host wasting resources on things like regenerating damage, so it blocks off the crab's natural healing mechanisms to better concentrate on protecting the parasite's brood. The best bit is when it invades male crabs, which aren't naturally maternal like female crabs. Solution? Chemically castrate them and fill them with female hormones to get them to do the same job.
  • Rhinoliths, or nasal stones, are calcium deposits in the nasal cavity that can cause headaches and sinus infections. Rhinoliths have to be surgically removed through the nostrils with small tools, but sometimes they can get so big that you'll need to have your nose cut open (WARNING: Video in link is graphic!) [1].
  • Tumors alone are scary enough but are quite treatable when caught in time. However, there have been cases where people have had a tumor growing on a part of their body and they don't even realize it's a tumor at all or they know what it is but can't do anything about it due to financial problems or other issues. Just imagine a mass of flesh on your torso just growing non stop over time, consuming your figure until it makes you look like you're morbidly obese and the sheer weight of it alone causes pain because of all the excess weight you're carrying around.
  • Elephantiasis is a disease that makes parts of your body swell up uncontrollably. It makes the person hideously disfigured and if the disease strikes the legs and feet, it can make walking almost impossible. There have also been cases where Elephantiasis can even affect a male's scrotum and testicles, causing them to swell so massively that they literally drag everywhere they walk. Imagine having to drag around a 50 pound weight between your legs as gravity drags it down.

    Elephantiasis is caused by a nematode related to the Guinea worm, and is spread by mosquitoes. When alive, the adult worms live in the host's lymphatic ducts. When the worms die, they clog the ducts, thereby allowing lymph fluid to build up, thus causing the horrifically deforming swelling.
  • There is a man who actually had a TREE growing in his lung.
  • The effects of getting in direct contact with Agent Orange, not that having it in the same ecosystem as you is very nice, either. As everything on this page- Google at your own peril.
  • This woman's buttock implant.
  • To people with Tokophobia, pregnancy and childbirth are this.
  • Partly the reason chemical warfare has been banned by the Geneva Convention is because those unprotected from the gases die in painful, horrible, and very undignified ways. Mustard gas, for example, causes burning and the skin to bloat out, even in the LUNGS. Let's not go into what Sarin does to the human body...
    • For the morbidly curious- Let's just say, if the simultaneous shitting, pissing, puking, drooling, and seizures don't kill you, you'll just end up choking with your lungs filling with fluid and your alveoli constricting anyway. All of this happens in 1 to 10 minutes, while Sarin gas can remain on clothing for up to 30.
    • Reports from the Aum Shinryko sarin attack simply had people collapsing and dying in silence, due to their lungs being paralysed, with not so much of the other stuff. The cult also has the dubious record of causing the only known death by VX nerve gas poisoning, when they assassinated a suspected spy. The victim ran 100 yards, collapsed and entered a coma, dying 10 days later without regaining consciousness. Not very graphic, compared to Chlorine or Mustard Gas, and other horrifying chemical weapons...
  • War Is Hell. People die in horrifying, undignified and just plain disgusting ways in wartime. But what of the survivors? Imagine a handsome, muscular soldier happily married with a kid on the way. Then they come back and show their deformities to their families...
    • Who said they were soldiers by profession? The vast majority of the so-called soldiers in both World Wars were conscripts - that is, hastily trained civilians forced into the rank and file against their will.
    • Sadly, this was horribly common in World War One. So many soldiers came home with horrific injuries from the shrapnel.
    • As well as in The American Civil War and The Crimean War. The reason being that with the level combat medicine was at, the solution for most serious wounds to limbs was amputate.
  • Third degree burns (chemical or thermal) are extremely disfiguring.
    • If you think third degree burns are horrifying, for the love of god, don't search up FOURTH degree burns.
    • Here's something even more exciting: fifth and sixth degree burns For those morbidly curious... . If you feel like searching those up, here's our advice: Do not. Fucking. Do it.
  • Macrodactyly is a rare congenital disease that causes a finger or toe to grow larger than normal.
  • Osteosarcoma is a form of Paget's disease of bone (which is terrifying in itself, as it causes bones to grow abnormal and misshapen) in which tumors grown right on the bone, which can lead to abnormal growth of bone tissue, leading to this. That is what osteosarcoma victims go through.
  • Lithopedion. A baby gets stuck somewhere in the body besides the fallopian tubes and the uterus and grows. If it makes it for a few months, it dies and starts to rot since the body can't absorb it. The body counter acts this by turning the baby to stone (calcifying it). If left alone, the woman can be carrying the baby for decades. The baby can rot enough to have some of the bones exposed, or calcify fast enough to look whole and can look like it's covered in blood. It looks disturbing no matter which happens.
  • Ribeiroia. A parasite that lives inside birds and mammals, it lays eggs that are passed out the digestive tract, hatch into aquatic larvae that infect a snail's reproductive tissue (effectively castrating it), then it leaves as a secondary stage to infects a tadpole, which is when the Body Horror starts. Now, the parasite has to find a way to get from the tadpole/frog into the heron to mature, so it makes the tadpole/frog grow extra limbs on its body! This makes the frog unable to swim properly and become an easy target for the bird.
  • A downplayed version is the removal of black heads.
  • Insects are all over this trope. Some examples include:
    • Ants, termites, bees and wasps will often attack opposing ants, termites, bees and wasps by biting attacking the joints on its body, as those are usually the least-likely to be armored. Thus, the battlefield of two colonies of these insects typically looks like a scene from the worst war movies around. Legs, heads, abdomens and thoraxes all meticulously cut apart and left laying about. In the case of their heads, their physiology is such that the heads will typically still be alive. Army ants apply this same tactic to larger creatures, like scorpions. Only in this instance, they can't amputate limbs. So they will get inside the victim and chew it up from the inside out.
    • Parasitic wasps, like the name indicates, are wasps that reproduce through parasitic larvae. A few species practice this on trees and plants, causing the trees to grow huge tumor-like growths. Others, such as the tarantula hawk wasp do this with spiders. The tarantula hawk will find an unsuspecting spider, sting it with a venom that has been described as "comparable to being electrocuted" and leave it completely paralyzed. Then, the tarantula hawk will lay its eggs on the still-living spider after dragging it back to it's lair. The larvae then proceed to hatch, slowly eating the spider alive, leaving it alive just long enough until they can enter their pupa stage. Yum.
      • Of all the things that Charles Darwin studied, it was parasitic wasps that he used as one of the best examples to make his point about how questionable he found it that a kind God could have created a world where things like that happen and which tested his religious faith the most.
    • Female mantises have the infamous tendency to kill their mates while mating. If the female is hungry enough, it will chew off the male's head to keep up its strength. The male is effectively dead at this point, but its body is still alive enough that it can continue having sex. Headless sex.note 
    • Bot flies have what might be the most disgusting and disturbing mating method of any insect, or at least one of the top five. Bot flies are parasitic flies, a lot like the parasitic wasps mentioned above. Unlike the parasitic wasps, they lay their young in the bodies of mammals. Some species go the nice route, and simply have their young grow through the gut of an animal. The more well-known ones, though use an animal's skin as a nest instead. They will lay their eggs on another flying insect, such as a fly or mosquito, which then transplants these eggs—as many as thirty or more—onto the body of a mammal like a cow. Or in the case of one species of bot fly, people. The host insect then bites the victim, while transferring eggs to the wound. The eggs then begin to mature. The first signs of infection are usually nasty welts, but one where a little breathing tube is sticking out.
    • It can be left there to mature and depart of its own accord, but given that it is literally eating your flesh this isn't necessarily a good idea. Suffocation with vaseline and duct tape doesn't take long (you just have to put up with its panicy wiggling til it suffocated) and then it can be extracted using an off-the-shelf snakebite kit. In some professions, this is almost routine...
      • Interestingly enough, bacon also works. With the added benefit of not needing the snakebite kit. The larva start to suffocate, burrow up through the bacon leaving the original host, where the bacon is then removed and can be properly disposed of.
    • Of course, it might not end up somewhere convenient. There's at least one documented case of a bot fly larva growing in the underside of the host's eyelid.
  • Huntington's Disease. A small genetic defect screws up the body's production of huntingtin, a protein that is essential to the function of the nervous system. As a result, the brain gradually begins to atrophy. The first symptom is usually random uncontrolled muscle movements, along with psychiatric disturbances. As the disease progresses, patients lose control of their movements and develop dementia. Death usually occurs between 10 and 20 years after diagnosis, though many patients choose to end their own lives earlier.
  • Synthol injections. Synthol is an oil (unrelated to the famous French balm bearing the same name) that some bodybuilders inject in their muscles in order to correct asymmetric musculature. Not only the results can be quite ugly if a specific part is too oversized compared to the surrounding ones (imagine some real-life Popeye arms), but it is also very dangerous: not only it is possible to damage nerves or catch a nasty infection with the syringe (bodybuilders rarely have a medical formation), but muscles having been infused with the product can eventually suffer from abcesses or infections. Oh, and inflating too much a muscle can damage the skin covering it.
  • Gangrene is what happens when parts of your body stop receiving blood and effectively die off, while still on your body. Comes in lovely flavors like dry (mummified look), wet (shiny bits of rotting flesh), and gas (it's so deep, your body develops dark purple boils because the pathogen is farting out gas). If left untreated, you'll quite literally rot to death, as seen in the case of Louis XVIII of France. One charmingly sweet description of the monarch in his final days reads as follows:
    "He was rotting alive and his body emitted such an awful smell that his family could not remain by his side. One of his eyes had melted away ; the valet, trying to move the body, ripped shreds off the right foot ; the bones of one his legs were decaying, while the other leg was nothing but a large, suppurating wound ; his face was yellow and black."
  • Many tribes still practice genital mutilation as a ritual. Prepubescent girls have their clitorises removed and their vaginal openings sewn mostly shut. Before childbirth it is unsewn then promptly resewn. This often happens in primitive societies so there is usually no anesthetic and the cutting implement is dull and covered in bacteria. Obviously, these girls are vulnerable to a wide range of potentially fatal medical problems throughout their entire lives. Men don't get off easy either. Circumcision is one thing, but some cultures have men split own their urethras with a sharp shell. Or the skin on the penis and scrotum is flayed off as a feat of pain endurance.
  • The mating method of some types of anglerfish, which involves an extreme example of sexual dimorphism. Whilst female anglerfish are a big, round football shape, the males are tiny and only live to mate with females. When they mate, the male bites into the skin of the female and actually fuses with her, losing all his internal organs except his testes. Essentially, the male is now a part of the female - he feeds off her and receives nutrients from her bloodstream. He is basically reduced to a parasitic pair of testes. Not only that, but he remains alive throughout. Did we mention that a female can carry up to six males at a time? The reason for this somewhat disturbing method is so the female immediately has a mate ready when she is ready to spawn.
  • There are common forms of Blowflies whose larvae will flat-out not eat viable tissue. One old-time remedy that is being revived takes advantage of this by hatching the eggs in a sterile environment; applying the maggots to an infected, gangrenous, or otherwise poorly healing wound; letting them gnaw/burrow about feeding on the "good stuff" for a couple of days; rinsing them out; and repeating until there are a few forlorn ones creeping about looking for nourishment on expanses of pink, healthy, healing flesh. It's not pretty, at all, but it beats amputation any day.
    • Incidentally, western medicine picked up on the systematic use of this due to battlefield surgeons in the American Civil War and World War I noting how often casualties dragged into field hospitals promptly had worse issues with gangrene and infection than the people left in the open with the flies for a while.
  • The effects of being caught directly in an atomic blast. Some people have said that if they're close enough to see a nuclear bomb being dropped, they will get in their car and rush towards the bomb as quickly as possible. A quick death by vaporization is preferable to the slow, bloody agony of radiation poisoning from the bomb fallout.
  • Tourette's Syndrome could be considered body horror if you think of it as your body moving against your mind's will.
  • Extremely early cases of puberty are often this in a way. There are even reports of it happening in infants and toddlers.
  • Gender dysphoria for those who are transgender. It comes with varying degrees of anxiety and/or depression if it strikes. There's something distinctly body-horror about having your body slowly and irreversibly become all too wrong over the course of your adolescence while everyone else is acting like it's fine and normal that it's happening to you and would be angry if you said otherwise.
  • During the 1960's, some prisoners in the United States were secretly injected with dioxins from chemical weapons to study their effectiveness, sometimes at 468 times the recommended dosage. The prisoners developed painful, irreversible pustules all over their bodies.
  • A milder, but still unsettling example comes from the Vipeholm experiments. During the 40's and 50's, the sugar industry and dentist community wanted to know for certain if a sugar-rich diet really did contribute to the formation of cavities. They tested this by giving inmates at a Swedish mental institution copious amounts of candy over a two year period. You can probably guess what resulted.
  • Polydactyly is a congenital disorder that causes the development of extra digits. They usually aren't real fingers or toes, just small growths of soft tissue, sometimes with small jointless bones inside them. On rare occasions, they can be fully functional.
  • Polyorchidism. A very rare disorder capable of affecting humans and animals, which causes the development of multiple testicles. These are usually just asymptomatic blobs of non-functional body tissue, but, like with Polydactyly, there are very rare occasions where they can be fully formed and fully functional. Unlike Polydactyly, these supernumerary testicles can conceivably form anywhere in the body. As cool is it may sound to be like a krogan, these multiple testes also substantially increase the risk of developing cancer.
  • The effects of White Phosphorus. Incendiary rounds filled with the material are extremely lethal because, not only can it burn straight through clothing and skin, causing deeper-than-average second and third-degree burns, but phosphorus in the burned area is naturally absorbed into the body as well. This can cause serious damage to the heart, liver, kidneys, brain, and can trigger multiple organ failure. The smoke from it can cause burns both outside and inside the body. Even exposure to certain levels of white phosphorus fumes can cause the aforementioned phossy jaw.
  • Subverted in the case of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. People with the condition can become obsessed with a minor physical flaw, either real or imaginary, and believe they have a serious deformity.
  • Usually, radiation poisoning will cause symptoms similar to an advanced viral infection. Fever, nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness all begin to set in, and inevitably a combination of factors kills you. However, in incidents in which there is a massive amount of exposure and, for some unholy reason, you don't die within two days, worse symptoms set in. What makes radiation sickness so horrible is that radiation quite literally destroys the body. It damages you on a cellular level, going as far as to destroy your chromosomes in very high doses. Thus, if you survive, you start to see unprecedented symptoms. Cellular degeneration happens at an incredible rate, producing effects similar to gangrene or necrosis in which tissue is utterly destroyed. Organs melt into goop. Skin and muscles will melt and fall off. Eventually, death occurs from multiple organ failure. This has only happened once to three unfortunate workers at the Tokaimura nuclear plant in Japan. One was kept alive for 83 days in a desperate attempt to save him. The results in his last days were horrific. (Warning: NSFW)
  • Frontotemporal Dementia, a condition where large areas of the Frontal and Temporal lobes in your brain begin rotting away. However, unlike Alzheimer's, it doesn't effect your memory or cognitive skills. Instead, symptoms can include things like behavioral changes, Lack of Empathy, apathy, loss of restraint, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and cuts your life expectancy down to anywhere from 2 to 15 years. But that's not the worst part. The worst part is that it's one of the more common causes of dementia among people below age 65 and roughly two-thirds of people who develop it have no family history of the disease.
  • Tertiary gummatous syphilis may cause "gummas": inflamed and necrotic growths that eventually decompose, leaving behind enormous fleshy wounds. It is not uncommon for victims of this disease to see their nose essentially collapse, leaving a nasty hole in the middle of the face. Sweet dreams.
  • The effect smoking has on the body, especially the lungs, as many PSAs will gladly remind you. The accumulated tar, chemicals, and impurities from the cigarette actually cause the tissues to turn black.
  • Fecal vomiting, which is exactly what the name implies. It's when you vomit your own feces as a result of a bowel obstruction. And you thought regular vomiting was bad?
  • After standing for long periods in the cold, damp trenches of World War I, soldiers began developing a condition known as trench foot. Due to a restricted blood supply and a nice wet environment for microbes to thrive, their feet began to decay into deformed lumps of flesh, muscle, and bone.
  • Even something as simple as inhaling powder can lead to nasty consequences. On a microscopic level, the jagged edges of crystalline silica fragments can embed themselves into lung tissue, causing a condition known as silicosis. This initially manifests as mild irritation and inflammation, but over time can lead to large deposits forming in the lungs, also leading to cyanosis in the skin. In the case of Hypertrophic Osteoarthropathy, where a lung condition (usually cancer but it can really come from any pulmonary disorder) results in a person's bones painfully growing longer and thicker.
  • Obstetric fistula. It usually happens when labor takes too long note , and the baby's head ends up cutting off circulation to blood vessels in the pelvis. The result of this is that the surrounding tissue dies and rots away, leaving a hole, or fistula. This is usually located between the urethra and vagina or the rectum and vagina...and the end result is the uncontrollable leakage of urine and/or feces through the vagina. (This can lead to infections, and even paralysis from nerve damage.) It is most prevalent in developing countries, where prenatal and emergency obstetric care are lacking, and where women tend to be married off at an early age, before their pelvises and cervixes are fully developed, and/or tend to have many closely-spaced pregnancies. Girls and women suffering from this tend to be marginalized because of the smell (and because the condition is viewed as divine punishment for sexual or other misconduct in some places), and treatment for it is difficult to find and pay for.
  • The development of the intestines. That takes place outside of the fetus. Oh, and the fetus' eyes have no lids at this point. That's right, you were Forced to Watch the development of your own guts. Fortunately, no one has any memory of this.
  • Even laying down can lead to body horror. Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, form on parts of the body that are constantly under some form of pressure. This restricts blood flow to the area, leading to inflammation and eventual loss of tissue through necrosis. In the most severe cases, muscle, tendon, bone and cartilage can end up being exposed. People most susceptible to this are the elderly, those bedridden with serious illnesses, and anyone with mobility issues, including wheelchair-bound individuals and anyone in a coma.
  • Papercuts.note 
  • Plasmodium, the parasite that causes Malaria, has a special case of this. First, once they enter a host, they travel to the liver and hide inside its cells for up to a month. This is where they change into the next stage of their life before bursting out to infect red blood cells. To protect themselves from an immune response, they wrap themselves in the membranes of the liver cells they killed. That's right, it's a cellular version of Genuine Human Hide.
  • Later stages of Neurosyphilis, which gradually eats away at the central nervous system, lead to some horrifying skull deformities.
  • A teenage boy from India had an odontoma which contained 232 teeth.
  • Paroxysmal dyskinesia, and other forms of dystonia. Various parts of your body lose effective contact with your motor cortex, for reasons unknown. You can feel everything that is happening, but you can't control your movements at all. Jerking, shaking, spasms, and complete loss of mobility are all common - sometimes connected to one limb, or sometimes connected to your whole body. It's basically the Real Life equivalent of being Bloodbent.
  • On July 29, 1995, 13-year old That Philips was abducted by Joe Clark and brought to Clark's house. Clark proceeded to spend the next 43 hours breaking the bones in Philips' legs. When Clark left the house at one point, through sheer willpower, Philips managed to break down the door of the closet he'd been locked in, throw himself down the stairs, drag himself to a phone and call 911. By the time police and paramedics arrived, his legs were swollen to the size of basketballs and he was within two hours of being dead from internal bleeding. Even worse is that Philips was lucky—while torturing him, Clark offhandedly mentioned having done this to other boys before either finally killing them outright or letting them to succumb to their injuries. Indeed, following his arrest for torturing Thad, he was linked to two similar cold cases from the previous year. Philips required multiple surgeries to repair his legs and to this day, walks with a limp because of what he endured.
  • During mating season, the male Star-Nosed Moles's testicles swell up to 9% of its body mass. That would be like a human with a pair of bowling balls hanging between their legs.
  • People with Congenital Insensitivity to Pain often unintentionally inflict this on themselves. Without the ability to feel pain, their eyes can easily get damaged, they can bite off pieces of their tongue, cavities go untreated, unnoticed cuts lead to infection, and internal injuries and conditions can go unidentified until it's too late.
    • A even more rare version of the condition is Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis. A patient with this not just unable to feel pain, but can't feel any nerve sensation except pressure. On top of the many injuries CIP brings, those with CIPA are even more vulnerable. For one thing, they can't even sweat, which can lead to serious hyperthemia.
  • Less famous but potentially more lethal than Agent Orange was Agent Blue, an herbicide that contained arsenic. The agent also inhibits folic acid, which is necessary for pregnant women to produce healthy babies. In 2003, a woman who lived in an area where it was sprayed gave birth to a daughter who exhibited absolutely horrific deformities. Her skin was little more than a web of festering blisters.
  • Ingrown nose hairs have been known to grow so far that they poke out to the nose's exterior.
  • According to a defector from North Korea, prisoners in the nation's concentration Camps are sometimes subjected to what's known as Pigeon Torture. This is where an inmate would be handcuffed behind their back and through an iron bar attached to the wall, then left to either hang or stand painfully hunched over for three straight days, which would leave them permanently contorted and disfigured.
  • The aging process can be this, especially to young people. Your skin develops wrinkles, your hair changes color or falls out, your bones become brittle, your entire body becomes weaker, and even your mental faculties become less reliable. And it affects every single human being. In fact, it's happening to you right now.
  • This poor man had a nose grow on his forehead. Justified, as he lost his nose in a car accident and the damage was irreversible.
  • The sap from the hogweed plant, it causes rashes, blistering, burns and even blindness if it touches the body and is then exposed to the sun.
  • There have been a few cases where people have had persistently runny noses with no apparent cause. Their noses run continuously, sometimes for months on end, and allergy medication doesn't seem to help. It's only when they've gone to the doctor did they find out that what they're dealing with isn't allergies, and what's coming out of their nose isn't snot. They've been leaking cerebrospinal fluid out of tiny holes in the membranes surrounding their brain. The condition is thankfully treatable, but good lord.
  • Because of climate change, the winters in the northeastern United States are getting shorter, which is allowing the Moose Ticks in the region to survive and feed for longer and longer. This has lead to many Moose in the region being covered in tens of thousands of them and either dying or turning into sickly, diseased Ghost Moose.
  • Psoriasis and dermatitis can lead to patches of swollen and bloody skin, especially when untreated. Psoriasis specifically can range from small, simple lesions on the skin, to white, scaly blotches with pus underneath.
  • Depending on the symptoms, allergic reactions can lead to this. You may get symptoms like swelling on specific parts of your body, hives on your skin, VERY intense itching, and that's just if you're lucky. The worst allergic reactions can render a poor victim comatose or even kill a person who doesn't receive immediate medical attention.
  • Prion diseases are pretty horrifying. Prion diseases are a class of neurological ailments in which an invasive misfolded protein causes normal proteins to misfold, causing catastrophic damage to the brain, specifically microscopic holes in brain tissue. Some of the most famous in huans are Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease, fatal familial insomnia, and kuru, which is tied to consuming human brain tissue. Aside from kuru, most prion disorders have have no known cause, though some cases of Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease have been tied to genetics or eating meat from diseased animals. There is no known cure for any prion disease, and it is almost invariably fatal. Death by prion diseases is slow, painful, and distressing, involving lovely symptoms such as personality changes, amnesia, dementia, loss of coordination, and eventually coma and death. Prions are unbelievably hard to destroy, even by extreme heat, radiation, and other normal sterilization procedures. As such, the CDC and WHO recommend that surgical implements that have come into contact with those infected with prion diseases be immediately destroyed instead of sterilized. A new prion disease, chronic wasting disease, is currently wreaking havoc on American deer and elk populations. Its symptoms include confusion, lack of coordination, and loss of muscle mass (hence "wasting") in the poor animals affected. There has been no evidence that it can transmit to humans yet, but the CDH has advised hunters against eating deer meat.
  • Tetanus, caused by the Clostridium tetani bacteria, is another example. If the Risus Sardonicus and loss of muscle control isn't enough, the muscle spasms produced by the tetnospasmin toxin can literally snap bones. This painting depicts a tetanus victim suffering from a full-blown, and likely fatal, case of the disease. Despite the development of a vaccine and advances in modern medicine, tetanus is still a very serious illness, with around a 10-15% fatality rate with medical treatment


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