What exactly is 'Greyscale' of Game of Thrones? A dermatologist gives his best guess
One of the most mysterious puzzles on Game of Thrones is greyscale, a strange disease that causes human skin to become stone-like. What on earth could actually cause it?
The signs are unmistakable: Hardened gray skin makes those who suffer unrecognizable to friends and family. They become extremely contagious and must be quarantined.
A dermatologist answers:
1) Is greyscale infectious? Yes, probably more so than Ebola
2) What kind of infectious agent might cause greyscale? Given that the infectious agent must be transmissible skin to skin, develop quickly, and survive on fabric, the most likely candidate would be a virus.
3) Is greyscale like leprosy? Not really. Leprosy (or Hansen's disease) is caused by mycobacteria, but it isn't very contagious and isn't transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. Like greyscale patients, patients with leprosy may become obviously deformed with time, and isolation limits transmission, but the parallels between the two conditions end there.
Dr Jules Lipoff, is an assistant professor of clinical dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of the only report of greyscale in the medical literature.