A physical condition that causes barnacle-like cysts to appear on the face, back and shoulders of elderly folk.

Barnacles aren't real barnacles like you would find in the sea, they're a painful skin condition that can affect the elderly. These hard cysts commonly crop up on the face, back and shoulders. It affects many different folk (usually in their elderly years) but the most commonly affected species are humans, fauns, and rakuwans (each having slightly different symptoms).   They do have a very similar appearance to sea barnacles, which is where the condition got its name from, but it's an urban legend that elderly folk who live by the sea are more likely to develop this condition. It can develop in anyone, regardless of where they live.


Barnacles come about due to a hormone imbalance as a person goes through their years of menopause. It it a common symptom of old age, but many people only experience mild symptoms and singular wart-like bumps that are easy to conceal.   A bad hygiene routine and poor diet will worsen the symptoms, causing the cysts to grow faster and become rougher in appearance.  
Beat the barnacles by keeping clean and staying lean!
— Common phrase
That woman really gets on my barnacles!!
— Common phrase


This hormone imbalance causes cysts to grow and harden in naturally oily areas such as the face, back and shoulders. In rakuwan folk, these cysts develop in soft areas like under the armpits and knees, and can also develop beneath their chitin which can become incredibly painful and debilitating.   Elderly rakuwans often take extra care of themselves to prevent this condition, as the barnacles can grow so much that it locks up the movement in their many joints.   New growths are smooth and shiny like a normal cyst, but will develop a dry crusty exterior that hardens with the build up of dead skin to resemble the appearance of sea barnacles.


The uncomfortable swelling and soreness can be eased with numbing creams made of mild herbal poultices, or for a more potent effect: jellyfish stinger extract*
*may cause permanent nerve damage and/or facial paralysis   Smaller cysts can be removed but will cause scarring, due to elderly skin typically being more fragile. Larger cysts can be dangerous to remove and may spread the infection further.


Clean yer nethers properly or you'll get a barnacle-butt!!
— A mother's warning
Get away from me you bum-barnacle!
— Common children's insult
Barnacles can be prevented in elderly folk by keeping up a good hygiene routine. For folks with skin this means washing thoroughly at least once a day, but more frequently is recommended.   For rakuwans this means washing and gently polishing themselves too, taking care to tackle hard to reach areas with soap foam.   Having a healthy diet containing fewer processed foods and sweet indulgences can help reduce the growth of the cysts, too.

Cultural Reception

Elderly folks afflicted with barnacles are mostly pitied by the wider community, usually because these people are either too poor, or too unwell to care for themselves and have therefore developed the condition.   Many people find barnacled faces too disgusting to look at, but there are many myths and legends that include this affliction, such as:
  • Captain Barnacle-Beard's Plunder
  • The Lunar Mermaid and her barnacled bottom
  • Barnie the Barkeep and her legendary mixology
Affected Species
Affected Demographics
Mama Nacre
Character | Nov 29, 2022

Wholesome old lady and spiritual leader of Guritism in Jug, the capital of the Iji Islands of Rengia.


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28 Jul, 2019 16:48

BUTT BARNACLES!   I like how you explain the causes, keeping it simple to avoid showering the reader with technical terms but giving enough details to understand what's it about. The cultural reception section is always something I look for in condition articles, and it's great!   (also, the art is amazing, but you already know that, right? :P)

[they/them] Creator of Black Light, a science-fantasy universe.
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