Bryony Bateman, 22, St Neots, is finally learning to feel comfortable in her own skin...
I’d known that I had psoriasis since I was 16.
It began as a painful, red rash on my tummy.
But only two years later, the sore, itchy patches had spread. They covered parts of my arms, legs and even my face.
The doctor gave me immunosuppressant medication to keep the symptoms at bay, as psoriasis occurs when the immune system attacks healthy skin cells by mistake.
But these drugs came with horrific side effects.
I was constantly sick, suffered terrible headaches and fatigue, even lost clumps of hair.
I felt awful. But my boyfriend Dean and my mum Fleur were always there for me.
After six months, I just couldn’t cope with the side effects any more. I came off the meds.
But that only meant one thing…the psoriasis was back. By June 2016, I was completely covered.
I was constantly bleeding, and the pain was like burning.
The doctor was shocked.
‘Get to A&E right now,’ she ordered.
I’d developed erythrodermic psoriasis, a potentially life-threatening form of the disease that stopped my skin from retaining moisture.
I was given emergency treatment before my skin completely shut down.
A month later, I was approved for a new drug, known as a biologic.
The results have been amazing. I still get flare-ups, but they are much less severe.
Since my diagnosis I’ve been raising awareness with my Twitter, YouTube and Instagram accounts.
‘People shouldn’t feel ashamed of their skin,’ I told Dean.
Through social media I found a whole community of people living with psoriasis.
One girl who suffered in silence for years only told her friends and family after visiting my pages.
I’m happy even if I’ve helped just one person, but I’ve no doubt that I’ll help many more!
Psoriasis is an incurable autoimmune condition that causes the body to attack healthy skin cells. This results in red, itchy and painful patches on the surface of the skin. Creams, ultraviolet therapy and oral or injected medications can help. Visit the NHS website for more information and advice.