By Rebecca Drew
THIS STUNNING woman feels grateful to be herself despite suffering from a painful condition that causes her skin to resemble thick, dry FISH SCALES.
When fitness instructor, Brittany Mickens (31) from Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA, was born, she was rushed to a nearby children’s hospital as doctors didn’t know what was wrong with her skin and told her family that she wouldn’t live past the age of one.
As Brittany grew up, her skin grew thick, dry and scaly but doctors dismissed this as an extreme case of eczema, prescribing her strong creams to treat her skin which would only work for a few weeks at a time before her skin reverted to the condition it was in before.
People would stare at Brittany and notice her skin was different to theirs but thanks to her mother, Wanda, who instilled a strong sense of self-love in her since she was a child by getting her to repeat the words, ‘I love you and I am beautiful’ in the mirror to herself, Brittany has learnt to love herself for who she is.
It wasn’t until Brittany started university at 18 and went to a new dermatologist that she was diagnosed with ichthyosis, a condition that causes widespread and persistent thick, dry, ‘fish scale’ skin. With this, Brittany finally made sense of why prescribed creams and medicines never worked on her skin before.
After visiting the dermatologist eight times a year for 25-years, Brittany was fed up of putting chemicals on her skin for them to work and then stop working, so she opted for a natural approach to her skin care which involves using natural shea butter with essential oils, gold bond ultimate radiance renewal and cocoa butter Vaseline after a shower and Jamaican black castor oil at night.
“I was misdiagnosed as a child and was told that I had really bad eczema. When I was first born I was rushed to a nearby children’s hospital in Washington DC because they didn’t know what was wrong with me, and eventually was told I wouldn’t live past a year,” said Brittany.
“When I went to college and found a new dermatologist, that’s when I found out that I had Ichthyosis. Because I had the wrong diagnosis all of the medicines that were prescribed to me only worked for a few weeks.
“Growing up looking a certain way was pretty tough but my mother made sure to build me up and told me that I am beautiful.
“I would get a few stares, but it was rare that anyone would say anything to me about my skin. I didn’t feel any different, but I knew I was different. My mother made sure that I accepted myself and I was proud to be who I was.
“She would often make me look in the mirror and repeat ‘I love you, you are beautiful’ over and over again. And one day I finally realised what she was doing, and I am so grateful for her making me do that.
“She was extremely important, if it weren’t for her constantly instilling positive affirmations in me, I wouldn’t be as confident as I am. She never let me dwell on the fact that I was different.
“I sometimes get stared at and asked different questions, but I don’t let it consume my day. Most of the time I forget that I have ichthyosis.”
There are at least 20 different types of ichthyosis and there is no cure for the condition but moisturising and exfoliating the skin daily can help prevent dryness, scaling and build-up of skin cells.
Brittany keeps her skin well moisturised at all times to prevent it becoming painful and has to be especially careful in the winter as the cold weather can make her skin worse. She explained how her family have always supported her and are proud of her embracing her difference.
“My family and friends love it and have always encouraged me to be the best version of myself. My tribe is always uplifting me and have told me that they admire me and my strength,” she said.
“I absolutely love me some me. I am grateful to be me. The way I feel about myself keeps my attitude positive and want to inspire others.
“To others, I would say always love yourself and you were chosen to deal with this for a reason, it’s all in how you deal with it. Perspective is key, always remain positive and it’s best to work on your heart first.
“The journey is not always easy, but you’re here so do it with a smile. Daily affirmations are extremely important; find you one that relates to you best, mine is: ‘Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvellous – how well I know it.’ Psalms 139:14.”