Lin Tianzhuan, 38, of Shuimen, southern China, first noticed the growths on his hands and feet when he was just 13.
“It started with a few hard bumps so I tried to apply antibiotics and creams but it didn’t get better,” he explained.
“Instead it just got worse. They grew and grew and soon they were all over my arms and legs, my back and even my head. Ii was as if I was turning to stone and it was terrifying,” he added.
Horrified Lin became a hermit, hiding at the family home and shunned by friends and neighbours who dubbed him Coral Boy.
His experience closely resembles that of Dede Koswara, the “tree man” of Indonesia whose skin condition was first highlighted by Telegraph.co.uk.
“Gradually my shell became thicker and thicker and I could no longer bend my arms or my legs. It was very frightening,” Lin said.
“If I had to go out I wrapped myself up in blankets because people would scream when they saw me,” he added.
But now Lin is recovering from his bizarre condition thanks to medics from a special skin clinic who have begun a study on his case.
Fuzhou Dermatosis Prevention Hospital vice president Dr Liu Yinghong said: “His hands, forearms, feet and calf were covered with these dark brown hard shells, looking like dry branches. The seriousness and long-lasting nature of the disease shocked us.”
Now after a year of treatment and surgery, Lin is making a full recovery with just a few discoloured skin patches to show for his horrific condition.
“He may need radiotherapy for quite some time still but he has made very good progress,” said Dr Yinghong.