British Skin Foundation supporters share their skin stories to help others realise they are not alone and raise awareness.
Supporters Share their Experience with Skin Disease
Marcus Davies – Psoriasis & Vitiligo
In the late 90s, serving British Army soldier, Marcus Davies started to develop vitiligo. No stranger to skin problems, he had suffered with psoriasis since his teens, but this time it was different. From a small white patch on his neck, within three months the vitiligo had spread to his face, spine and genital area, as well as turning his hair white.
During this particularly stressful time Marcus was subject to unpleasant nicknames and daily comments on his appearance. Although he had a great career, wife and first child, the vitiligo affected his confidence massively. Over the coming years, Marcus was advised to keep out of the sunlight and wear SPF 50. Sunny family holidays with his young children became difficult and he felt unable to do the simplest things, such as take them swimming due to his condition.
He shied away from family photographs and found himself fighting against medical discharge from the army in 2003. In the coming years, Marcus received regular PUVA light treatment for skin which improved his psoriasis massively, but the vitiligo remained with only minor re-pigmentation to the affected areas.
Back on regimental duty for the British Army in 2008, Marcus was promoted to Warrant Officer Class 2, his proudest career achievement. These days he is back in the civilian lifestyle after leaving the army in 2012. Whilst civilian life was a challenge at first, Marcus is now able to shut out those who stare without even realising.
Happy with his job in recruitment, Marcus applied to run the London Marathon in 2015 to raise money for the British Skin Foundation. After raising a massive £3,100 for skin disease research, Marcus explained “I have found a new lease of life and want to help others with skin conditions to know that it’s ok to look different – it’s the person inside who matters.”
Loti Jackson – Malignant Melanoma
Aged just 27, Loti Jackson discovered she was suffering from malignant melanoma, a potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer. Whilst working on a press campaign for a well-known tanning brand, Loti became aware that a mole on her left cheek fitted a lot of the skin cancer warning signs and needed to be checked.
Loti’s GP quickly referred her to the local NHS trust to monitor the mole, checking it for signs of skin cancer. Although it was deemed non-cancerous in August 2012, by November 2012 it had changed and within two weeks Loti was ready to have surgery to remove the mole.
Adjusting to the scar on her face was difficult for Loti, especially when she learned that her skin cancer was a melanoma and she would need further surgery on her face, leaving her with an even bigger scar.
By acting quickly, Loti and her doctors were able to catch the melanoma in its early stages. Although she is left with a scar, Loti believes that she was one of the lucky ones. She explains “I am very passionate about raising awareness of skin cancer, as I am living proof that awareness works.”
Giorgia Frost – Acne
Sixteen year-old Giorgia has suffered with acne since the age of eight. By the time she was twelve, her previously mild acne had turned severe and aggressive, leading her to doctor to try an array of different pills, creams and even a sun lamp. Nothing seemed to work and Giorgia was referred to a dermatologist.
By this time, Giorgia had severe cystic acne and her dermatologist decided to try a six month course of retinoids. Although it cleared up her skin well, unfortunately it only lasted about four months before the acne returned as aggressively as before.
Rather than let her acne get her down, aspiring model Giorgia decided to enter a local beauty pageant instead. She explains “Acne has affected a big part of my life as I get turned down for modelling jobs all the time for having bad skin. But, I’m generally quite a confident person so I decided to give it a go.”
She was then crowned Junior Miss Bolton & Bury 2015-16 and hopes that her story will be an inspiration to others with skin problems. “I realised that I can achieve my dreams even though I still suffer with acne and I want other people to know they can too,” said Giorgia.
Georgia Davies – Erythropoietic Protoporphyria
Even the briefest exposure to sunlight can cause a severe reaction for Georgina who suffers from erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP). When she has a reaction, Georgina feels as though her blood is boiling, her hands and face swell, plus she’s left with a burning, tingling sensation that can last for days.
Georgina experiences unbearable pain along with sleep deprivation. When she was younger, she suffered from extreme fatigue which was later attributed to EPP. She explains, “Cool cloudy days can be the best, but only if you manage not to set the condition off beforehand.”
Skin-covering coats, big floppy hats and pairs of gloves are the norm for Georgina. The windows in her home have a protective UV film, as normal glass intensifies the UV rays. Her car also has protective film on the back windows – the law prohibits her from having it on the front and side windows, making it difficult to go places without being attacked by UV.
A tough condition to live with, EPP can be very isolating as it stops the sufferer from joining in with others and leading a normal life. “Those who do not have the condition cannot in any way understand the pain it causes both physically and mentally,” said Georgina.