The word “disfigurement” is used to describe the aesthetic effects of a mark, rash, scar or skin graft on a person’s skin or lack of symmetry or paralysis to their face or body.
Some people are born with conditions that that cause a disfigurement. These include birthmarks, cleft lip and/or palates and unusual formations of the skull and other features such as craniofacial conditions, for example, Treacher Collins and Goldenhar syndromes (caused by a failure of part of the bone and soft tissues of the face to develop normally at birth) and Apert and Crouzon Syndromes which are due to the premature fusion of the separate bones of the skull before birth.
Other conditions can be acquired through accidents such as scars from a road traffic accident or burns injuries as a result of a house fire; through violence, such as scarring from a knife or acid attack; from treatment for a disease, such as cancer; facial paralysis (eg. stroke, Moebius syndrome, Bell’s Palsy); or from medical accidents, such as mistakes in cosmetic procedures.
Disfigurement can also be caused by common skin conditions like acne, eczema, vitiligo or psoriasis and others conditions that affect the texture of the skin, such as neurofibromatosis and epidermolysis bullosa.
Disfigurement can affect anyone at any time, at any age, from any ethnic group whether from birth, accident, disease or the aftermath of surgery.
You can read further about conditions that affect appearance in our Facing Changes booklet or visit the NHS Choices website.
For other condition specific support, please visit our links and resources section.