A young woman who was almost killed by a life-threatening skin condition is teaching other sufferers how to handle their symptoms through a series of videos.
Bryony Bateman, 21, nearly died when 98 per cent of her skin was affecged by psoriasis – a condition which causes an overproduction of skin cells, leading to red, flaky patches with silvery scales.
But after overcoming the odds and managing to battle back from the brink of death, she chose to use her experiences to help others find a way of coping with the illness.
Three years after being diagnosed, Bryony has now become an internet sensation, using social media sites Instagram, YouTube and Twitter to recommend products and give fashion advice.
“I decided to start my blog dedicated to psoriasis when I had an anonymous message from a girl saying she wanted to drop out of school, quit her job and kill herself because she has psoriasis on her face, and she didn’t know how to cover it up.
“She was asking how I cover mine up so I grabbed my phone and filmed myself doing my make-up and put it up on YouTube.
“She replied thanking me and said it gave her hope to carry on.
“I want people to take away that, yes, psoriasis isn’t great and it’s a lifelong auto immune illness, but because it is lifelong you need to find your own way of coping and own way of coming to terms with your illness.”
Bryony, who now works as a beauty therapist, began suffering symptoms of psoriasis at the age of 17 when she developed a rash on her stomach.
She was initially told by doctors she was allergic to washing powder, but when the rash failed to heal, she began searching online for clues as to what was causing her symptoms.
Realising she had psoriasis, she demanded to be referred to a dermatologist who confirmed her suspicions, diagnosing her with the condition at the age of 18.
It emerged her grandfather had also suffered from the genetic condition, but due to the symptoms being slightly different, other family members hadn’t picked up on it.
“It started spreading from my stomach to my back and my arms and legs,” said Bryony.
“It was keeping me up at night because it was so itchy. It was like being covered in mosquito bites and I had to wear socks on my hands to bed so I didn’t scratch myself too much.
“My skin would get really dry and then it would crack and split. It was agony.”
Since her diagnosis, Bryony has been prescribed a number of antibiotics and steroid creams to try and reduce her symptoms.
But she found her condition would flare up on occasions – once so badly that her body went into shock as her immune system attacked her skin thinking it was a threat to her.
“It was like I was burning from the inside,” said Bryony. “My body was in a state of shock because my skin was so dry that my body had no hydration at all.
“I was literally shedding sheets of skin, it was agony.
“It was life threatening and without the emergency treatment they gave me, it could have been a different story.
“It was a really horrible experience but it made me more determined to make other people aware of psoriasis and how dangerous it can be.”
Not wanting to let the condition rule her life, Bryony began trawling the internet for solutions to make her more comfortable and to cover up the itchy scabs which engulfed her body.
She was shocked to find little help for psoriasis sufferers, despite it affecting two per cent of the UK population.
Bryony, from St Neots, Cambs., said: “I was astonished to find there was nothing out there to help people like me.
“All I was finding was shocking pictures of women in their 50s which without being funny, didn’t relate to me who was only just starting out with the condition.
“I found that sea salt baths and having sun beds helped me, and I learned how to cover my face so my skin looked flawless.
“I wanted to get this out there to help other young sufferers like me to prove that life does go on.
“It’s given me the confidence to carry on and helps me cope and come to terms with it.”
After learning that she could pass the condition on to any children she may have in the future, Bryony is hoping to raise awareness of what psoriasis is.
She added: “Everyone knows what eczema is but no-one really knows about psoriasis is because it’s not talked about.
“I want stop people feeling ashamed about having it and learn to be proud of knowing how to manage it properly.
“As much as it hurts I want to give people the strength to get through it and stay positive.”
To see Bryony’s posts, follow @bryneenee on Instagram, or search Bryneenee on YouTube and Twitter.
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