By Rebecca Drew
THIS MUM was DENIED a Saturday job as a teen because of her skin and had visions of being BED BOUND after she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis – but she is shunning medicine in an effort to heal NATURALLY and sharing her journey online to encourage others to not let psoriasis define them.
Primary school teacher, Laura Parish (37) from Reading, UK, was first diagnosed with psoriasis when she was just two years old and has never known life without the skin condition. Laura’s psoriasis got worse as she got older and she would lag her skin in prescribed creams every night before bed which left her hair and skin feeling greasy.
By secondary school psoriasis covered most of Laura’s body, face, head and neck which meant that she couldn’t hide her skin condition easily. She grew a fringe to conceal her face and couldn’t always wear the same clothes or use the same beauty products other girls did. Luckily Laura never experienced discrimination at school but when she was 16 she was turned away from a Saturday job at a hairdressers because of her skin. #
Over the years Laura has tried elimination diets, UVB light therapy, creams, oils and took ciclosporin for three years. All the methods Laura has tried to heal her skin have worked for a limited time before her psoriasis came back angrier than ever.
After her daughter Eva was born in May 2016 Laura’s psoriasis spread all over her neck and chest and as a new mum meeting other new mums she found it difficult and even had shopkeepers ask her if she was sunburnt.
Eight months after giving birth Laura was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, a type of arthritis that develops in people with psoriasis which can get worse over time. This left her feeling devastated and with visions of being bed bound for the rest of her life and despite doctors urging her to start taking medication orally and through injections, she decided to heal her skin naturally, so went back on her elimination diet and decided to only use natural products on her skin.
This move saw Laura’s confidence skyrocket, her arthritic pain disappeared, she started sharing her journey on Instagram under the handle, @morethanskindeep1 and didn’t let her skin stop her from wearing bikinis on holiday. Laura gave birth to her son Bernie in June this year and has continued spreading skin positivity online.
“I don’t remember being diagnosed, but I remember it getting progressively worse the older I got. I used creams, ointments, lotions and anything the doctors prescribed. I remember sitting there every night while my mum covered my body and scalp in these,” said Laura.
“My hair and clothes would be greasy and it would sting until I cried. I’d scratch until I bled at night and everything was covered in flakes.
“My teenage years were filled with oils which ruined my clothes and smelt, salt solutions which continued to make me cry with pain and a diet which was so intense that it was very hard to lead a normal life. I couldn’t eat so many things over the years; dairy, sugar, nightshades, alcohol, caffeine, meat, gluten.
“There was a point a few years ago where all I was eating was fish, certain veg and sweet potato. The older I got, the more depressing it got, it really started to get me very down. There were points when I stopped doing it for these reasons.
“I couldn’t dress as I always wanted, I couldn’t use beauty products like other teenage girls and I grew a fringe to cover my face as much as I could. There was no hiding my psoriasis, it covered me head to toe, but I don’t recall hearing many negative or nasty comments.
“I was turned down for a Saturday job at a hairdresser because the psoriasis wasn’t the image they wanted. Looking back now I should have done something about it, there’s no way anyone could get away with that these days, but this was 20 years ago now and things were different. I think I was shocked but didn’t question it.
“Over the years, my psoriasis calmed down a lot and it roller-coastered between good and bad times After having my daughter, it was a time when I was meeting lots of new people through NCT and baby groups and I was so conscious of my skin.
“Even more so I was conscious of my diet and how I couldn’t just go for a coffee without feeling guilty or having to resist. Finding clothes was miserable, I needed clothes I could breastfeed in, I had a totally new figure to get used to and on top of that, wanted clothes that covered me as much as possible and it was summer.
“The psoriasis was creeping up my chest and down my neck so totally hiding it was impossible. Psoriasis also causes fatigue so I’d always been tired anyway then add a baby to that it was exhausting. I would see eyes glance at it all the time, but no one ever really said anything. Shopkeepers would ask if I was sunburnt or had an allergy.
“Eight months after my daughter was born, I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. This terrified me and I found it very hard to accept to begin with. I had visions of me being totally disabled and bed ridden in horrendous pain for the rest of my life!
“I didn’t want to get out of bed, I definitely didn’t want to face the world. But I had no choice. I had a daughter and a job as a teacher so I’d have my breakdowns in private then go and face the world like nothing was wrong. But I didn’t cave to medication.”
Laura has sometimes struggled with the unpredictability of her skin flares but tiredness and stress can cause her psoriasis to appear, but she never lets it stop her from living her life. The mum of two is also an ambassador for skincare company, Tropic and sells natural beauty products despite having psoriasis, something she never thought would be possible.
She credits the fact that her psoriasis has always been visible with giving herself no option but to embrace the skin she is in.
“I think I was helped by the fact that it was pretty much impossible to cover much of mine as it was on my face and neck as well as everywhere else. Also, I hate being uncomfortable so would never cover up properly in hot weather. I spent a winter wearing scarves but actually found they made the psoriasis more sore,” she said.
“My hair used to get greasy from treatments so I’d tie it up which meant the psoriasis was on show but it was necessary and practical. I think I unconsciously thought I shouldn’t have to cover up any more than anyone else should.
“I fear the flares. When it’s calmer I forget how horrific the flares are but when it starts coming back, I remember and panic. But ultimately all I can do is ride the wave and get through it. I just have to be strong with myself to not let it get me down.
“I have my moments of tears and feeling very down, but I’ve always made myself get on with life, whether it be work or children. I’ve never missed work due to my psoriasis as I never felt it was something that warranted time off.”
Finally, Laura shared her words of advice to other psoriasis sufferers.
“I’d say not to let psoriasis define them. Don’t let it control what they choose to do in life. I always say I have it but it doesn’t have me, I have to really remind myself of this sometimes though, I’d say don’t cover up because of what others might think, cover up if you want to but not for anyone else,” she said.
“I’d also say get online and join the huge community out there on Instagram. I thought I’d be the first to start a psoriasis account and couldn’t believe there’s thousands of others like me. It’s a huge support network.
“The more people who share and show their skin will help raise awareness and make it more normal, then no one would have to hide it.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/morethanskindeep1