A self-conscious psoriasis sufferer is slowly learning to love herself and her skin – despite cruel comments from strangers asking if she’s contagious.
Alice Weekes, 18, from Fareham, Hampshire, began to suffer problems when she was just 11 when hairdressers thought she had ringworm on her scalp.
However, this didn’t turn out to be the case as her skin worsened over the next few years before she was diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of fifteen.
Images show how badly Miss Weekes can be affected during her flare-ups, which can cover up to 70 percent of her body at any one time.
Speaking for the first time, she has revealed that she doesn’t ‘want to hide any more’ and has praised her family and friends for their support.
‘When the flare-ups started I was feeling really self-conscious and started wearing clothes that would cover my whole body, so people wouldn’t see,’ she said.
‘I also had really bad anxiety which made me feel horrible and I wouldn’t leave the house if it looked bad but I’m learning to love myself and my skin.
‘Now I’m so used to my psoriasis that I don’t actually remember what I look like without it and I’m a lot more comfortable with showing my skin to people.
‘The reaction people have towards me are often strangers staring and asking lots of questions, I’ve also been asked if I’m contagious or sick.’
Miss Weekes, who is now an apprentice hairdresser, discussed in more detail the moment when the early signs of her psoriasis appeared.
‘I was at the hairdressers when I was 11 and they thought I had ringworm on my scalp,’ she said.
‘However, over the next few years it got worse and I was finally diagnosed with psoriasis when I was 15.
‘I started off by using tropical treatments but was told to stop by my dermatologist and just to moisturize, I am also now starting a 10-week course of light therapy for it.
‘I don’t want to hide anymore, I want to educate people by showing them that auto-immune diseases are normal and that my skin might look different but it’s totally normal.
‘I also want to build my confidence so decided if I could share my condition on social media and get a positive reaction I would feel able to walk out the door without wanting to cover myself up.’
Miss Weekes also spoke about the important support she has received from her family and friends whilst giving her own supportive message to anyone else suffering psoriasis.
She said: ‘My friends and family are really supportive, they always say they’re proud of me and that it actually gives them confidence.
‘They see that I can leave the house covered in psoriasis with no make-up or in clothes that I want to wear, it makes them see that they can do the same and start embracing themselves.
‘I’d say to anyone else to ignore the stares and comments and be you. Love yourself even if you feel like you can’t right now, wake up every day and tell yourself you’re beautiful.
‘Embrace the skin you were given, you’re not alone. You were made this way for a reason and even though you are different, different is beautiful.’
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