A young woman has described how her rare skin condition she developed after sunburn is regularly feared by strangers to be contagious.
Restaurant supervisor Claire Spurgin from Essex, UK, got the skin condition psoriasis when she was 19 and it left her covered in red dots all over the body.
Claire, now 24, had spent a summer's day outside and had caught the sun on her shoulders. The sunburn turned into dryness which seemed to take weeks to heal. Small red dots started to appear on her torso before getting bigger and spreading all over her body, including on Claire’s face.
“When dots first started to appear on my body I had no idea what it was and it never crossed my mind it would be here to stay,” she said.
After many trips to the doctor and being prescribed various creams which didn’t have an effect on the spots, she was referred to a dermatologist who diagnosed her with guttate psoriasis - a type of psoriasis which appears as red, scaly spots.
Psoriasis is a skin condition which is long lasting and usually involves periods of having no or mild symptoms followed by times when symptoms are more severe.
Being just 19, Claire had just started going out and wanted to fit in with her friends by wearing dresses like them, but she felt too embarrassed about the patches on her skin and the appearance of the dots started to affect her confidence.
Following her diagnosis, Claire was prescribed steroid creams and underwent light therapy treatments to try and ease her symptoms.
Claire used to hope the treatments would be her miracle cure which would make her skin condition go away forever but whilst they worked for a limited period, once treatment was stopped, Claire’s psoriasis would reappear.
She said it left her "embarrassed" and regularly fed up.
Australia trip shifts mentality
It wasn’t until July 2018 when Claire spent two years travelling Australia and New Zealand that she noticed the constant sun worked to help clear her skin that things started to change for her.
Claire would wear a bikini at any given opportunity to benefit her psoriasis despite still being self-conscious of the condition and gradually, over time, she has learnt to accept her skin condition.
“I hated my skin when my psoriasis started. I was eighteen and just started going out to bars. I wanted to fit in with my friends and wear dresses but I was just too embarrassed," she revealed.
“I was choosing to cover up and hide my psoriasis from the world. I was in fear people would notice my skin condition.
“Having a skin condition had a huge effect on my confidence. I was desperate for clear skin again."
People would point at Claire and ask her, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ and whilst this shocked her at first, she is now happy to educate others about psoriasis and doesn’t mind people asking her questions, admitting that people often wrongly think that the condition is contagious – which it isn’t.
Now, Claire feels empowered by her psoriasis and she shares skin positive posts on Instagram under the handle, @claires__psoriasis where she hopes to be able to inspire others and show them that they can live life to the full with the condition.
“It took me a long time to accept my skin but it was the people around me who taught me to be confident about myself.
“Now I’ve had psoriasis for six years, I don’t mind people asking. I want to educate them on psoriasis, but when I hadn’t accepted my skin and people would ask, I’d feel so sad because they were pointing out my biggest insecurity.
“It’s taken me years to feel this confidence."
Psoriasis affects around two per cent of people in the UK, making those with the condition unique – something which Claire is keen to celebrate.
Claire credits travelling and taking part in new experiences outside of her comfort zone whilst abroad as a major factor in her accepting her psoriasis.
“As I got older, I’ve learnt this is who I am now,” she said.
“I’ve learnt that there’s more to life than worrying about my appearance."
– Media Drum World
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