A 23-year-old Vietnamese woman has left doctors baffled after she appeared to age 50 years in just a few days.

After the affliction took hold in 2008 Nguyen Thi Phuong's face puffed up and her skin sagged.

Mrs Nguyen, now 26, believes the cause of her condition can be traced back to her seafood allergy, she said she had suffered a particularly bad reaction in 2008.

"I was really itchy all over my body. I had to scratch even while sleeping," she told the Daily Mail.

Mrs Nguyen said she took some medicine from a local pharmacy, but didn't go to the hospital because her and her carpenter husband Tuyen were too poor.

She said: "After one month of taking the drugs, I became less itchy but hives remained on my skin.

"Then I switched to traditional medicine and all the hives disappeared, together with my itching. However, my skin began to sag and fold."

Mrs Nguyen tried another kind of traditional medicine to treat her rapid-aging problem but it did not help.

Doctors say it may have been the long-term use of traditional medicines that caused the condition as they are often spiked with steroids that could have triggered the rare skin disease mastocytosis, where the body produces too many mast cells.

Mrs Nguyen said: "The skin on my face, chest and belly have folds like an old woman who has given birth several times although I have never had a child."

Mr Nguyen said his wife's disease has not affected his love for her or their relationship.

"I married Phuong when she was a beautiful woman. I have followed her through her disease and have never been shocked at all.

"It's not easy to talk about one's own marital affairs. Just simply understand that I still love her very much." He told the Daily Mail.

Mrs Nguyen said her husband's love is the reason she is able to persevere in the face of adversity.

She said: "He still loves me like before despite the fact that I look old and ugly. With him, I feel more confident to live and work."

Mr Nguyen said that he and his wife do not dare to have a child, even though they have been married several years, because their lives are so difficult.

He said: "Our only wish is to have some philanthropists or doctors help my wife to make her normal face again."

The West Australian

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