When she has a flare up, her skin around her eyes and mouth turns black and falls off. MDWFeatures / Q'Londa Harden

By Martin Ruffell


THIS WOMAN has been compared to a ZOMBIE by strangers because of a rare skin condition caused by her PERIOD that makes her skin peel off.

Regional nurse, Q’Londa Harden (26) from Alaska, USA, suffers from a rare disorder called Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a condition in which the body’s immune system overreacts to a mild infection, taking a new medication or in Q’Londa’s case, simply being on her period.

Q’Londa’s natural hormone surge at the start of her period, leads to blisters forming from head to toe all over her body. These then eventually burst causing her skin to turn black and peel off. For Q’Londa, the pain is unbearable and something she wouldn’t wish on her worst enemy.’

Q’Londa as a child before her ordeal began. MDWFeatures / Q’Londa Harden

The 26-year-old was diagnosed with the disorder when she was just 16 by an allergist and specialist. Since then, her body’s reaction to flare-ups has only got worse and although Q’Londa is on the birth control pill to manage her hormone levels, this hasn’t always prevented her from developing symptoms. A flare up in June 2020 caused by a sharp increase in hormone levels during her period left her with no skin on her vaginal and anal regions and it was the first time that her breasts, neck, thighs and legs were affected. Q’Londa was hospitalised for four days, where she received pain medication, IV fluids and care from nurses who tended to her blistered raw skin.

The condition has not only affected Q’Londa physically, but also mentally and she frequently questions why she has been chosen to go through this. Whilst currently in a happy relationship with boyfriend Ashton (28), Q’Londa admits that her condition has freaked out previous boyfriends.

People stare at Q’Londa whenever she’s out in public after a flare up and comment, ‘what is wrong with her skin?’ – with one stranger telling her nobody would ever love her because of how she looks.

Q’Londa enjoying a day at the fair. MDWFeatures / Q’Londa Harden

“This has been the most painful and embarrassing experience ever. It’s getting worse every time I have a reaction,” Q’Londa said.

“I’m stuck in a cycle of trying to avoid my triggers to keep my skin on my body. It has been a few years since I’ve had a really bad reaction but the latest one has been really hard on me.

“I know a reaction is happening because it feels as if someone has set my body on fire. There is a constant feeling of burning and stretching.

Q’Londa in hospital with horrendously damaged skin around her eyes and lips. MDWFeatures / Q’Londa Harden

“My eyes, lips, ears and vagina swell up. My body becomes covered in blisters, the blisters pop, my skin then peels off.

“People tell me that God made me this way which is absolutely true, but no one likes to walk in public and look like this. Let’s be real.

“There’s no cure and because my triggers are hormone induced there’s not much I can do about it. I’m a woman and we all have hormones in our bodies.

Giving a thumbs up to the camera from her hospital bed. MDWFeatures / Q’Londa Harden

“I just want to tell people; when you see someone who looks like me, you clearly don’t know what they’re going through.

“It’s already hard enough for me to get dressed and walk out of the door to the grocery store without people staring at me like I’m a frickin’ zombie.

“People have said ‘what’s wrong with her’, ‘Eww, why are you covered in scars?’ and ‘No one is going to love you looking like this.’

Q’Londa graduating as a regional nurse with her fellow students. MDWFeatures / Q’Londa Harden

“At first the comments hurt and made me sad and embarrassed. But I have to realise there is nothing I can do about it and you don’t know these people so who cares. You probably won’t see them again anyway.

“I already know I look crazy. I wake up every day and see myself in the mirror, so I don’t need the added comments I receive.

“I need people to have more empathy and respect for other people like me.”

Q’Londa in hospital in June. Recovering after having a severe flare up. MDWFeatures / Q’Londa Harden

Although stuck in a cycle of trying to avoid flare ups and doing her best to recover quickly when they do happen, Q’Londa has tried to remain positive.

As for the future, the treatment options are limited. However, giving Q’Londa low doses of chemotherapy has been suggested as a potential option and she is willing to try this. This would work putting her in early menopause, keeping her from having a period and would theoretically keep her from having future reactions to her hormones.

“Me sitting feeling sad and depressed about this isn’t going to make it go away so I choose to try and find the silver linings in this situation,” Q’Londa said.

Her flare ups are caused by her hormones. At other times her skin looks normal. MDWFeatures / Q’Londa Harden

“I crack jokes and my siblings pick on me because you’ve got to make the best out of a bad situation.

“We joke about me being part zombie and that my skin on my face keeps re-healing and that it’s nature’s way of giving me a free face lift. That’s why I look so young.

“For it to be ten years later and nothing has changed is hard. They’re throwing the idea around of freezing my eggs and putting me on low dose chemotherapy to put me in menopause.

Q’Londa putting on. a brave face despite her condition being unbearably painful. MDWFeatures / Q’Londa Harden

“This would shut my body down and keep me from having a period and would keep me from having future reactions.

“I’m excited to see a doctor who deals with my condition. I’m excited what steps we will take next.

“At this point I’m open to any and every suggestion because I would not wish this upon my worst enemy.

“The positive comments I receive make me feel happy and loved. They make me feel like I’m just like everyone else.”