'I'm not going to hide away': How one brave teen embraced her upsetting condition

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·4 min read
Rosie McKenzie had her first psoriasis flare-up when she was 16. (Caters)
Rosie McKenzie had her first psoriasis flare-up when she was 16. (Caters)

A woman who suffers from psoriasis has revealed how social media has helped her to embrace the condition and learn to love herself.

Rosie McKenzie, 19, from Cambridge, had her first major psoriasis flare-up back in 2019, when she was just 16.

Fast forward three years and though the human resources apprentice still suffers from the condition, which causes itchy, scaly patches on her skin and often leaves her face red and flaky, she has learnt to accept the skin condition.

The once insecure teenager credits Instagram with helping her to overcome the self-esteem issues caused by the onset of psoriasis.

Read more: Psoriasis sufferer, 24, gets asked if she is burnt or contagious

McKenzie has been sharing her journey with the skin condition on social media. (Caters)
Rosie McKenzie has been sharing her journey with the skin condition on social media. (Caters)

"I've had flare ups for about three years now, and this year I just decided I wasn't going to hide away anymore," she explains.

"It has been hard, because this flare-up has affected my face mainly, and I've had to go into work, but everyone has been really good about it.

"My family and friends have all encouraged me to share my experiences on social media, which has really helped.

"Posting about it has made me much happier, and showed me it's not just me who struggles with this."

McKenzie says that while social media doesn't always help to boost body confidence, for her it has been a real help.

Rosie McKenzie with psoriasis on her face and neck. (Caters)
Rosie McKenzie with psoriasis on her face and neck. (Caters)

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She says that writing down her journey and experiences in instagram posts was very therapeutic.

Speaking about the emotional journey she has been on since being diagnosed with psoriasis, McKenzie says: "The first flare up I had, it was literally like I went to bed one night and when I woke up, my skin had completely changed.

"It was actually quite scary, because it all came out at once, so I suddenly had all these red dots on my skin.

"I was only 16, so it was a big shock, and it was all so quick."

Doctors attributed McKenzie's sudden flare up to a throat infection she had at the time, but it had a huge impact on her confidence.

"Because the first flare up was such a shock, I was trying to hide, I never wanted to go out, so I really struggled," she explains.

Watch: 6 skin conditions that are commonly misdiagnosed

Having posted a picture of her skin after the first flare-up, the teenager was left upset when someone commented asking if she had chicken pox.

"So then of course I deleted it immediately, it was really hard," she says.

But after continuing to post about her skin condition, she now refuses to let it bring her down and is no longer ashamed of her skin.

Usually the flare-ups occur during the summer, but this year, McKenzie has suffered with psoriasis in the winter too.

"Previously, I've always laid out in the sun and it's really helped," she explains.

"Obviously at the moment that isn't really an option, so there was nothing else for it but to embrace my skin.

Read more: Smoking, excess alcohol, stress and anxiety can trigger psoriasis

Rosie McKenzie has learnt to embrace her psoriasis. (Caters)
Rosie McKenzie has learnt to embrace her psoriasis. (Caters)

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales.

"Psoriasis is a long-lasting (chronic) disease that usually involves periods when you have no symptoms or mild symptoms, followed by periods when symptoms are more severe," the NHS says.

While the patches normally appear on your elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, they can appear anywhere on your body and in some cases can be itchy and sore.

Psoriasis affects around 2% of people in the UK and affects men and women equally.

While the condition can start at any age, it tends to develop in adults under 35 years old.

Psoriasis is a long-lasting (chronic) disease that usually involves periods when you have no symptoms or mild symptoms, followed by periods when symptoms are more severe.

While there is no current cure for psoriasis, a range of treatments can improve symptoms and the appearance of skin patches.

The first treatment often used, according to the NHS, will be a topical treatment, such as vitamin D analogues or topical corticosteroids.

Topical treatments are creams and ointments applied to the skin.

If these are not effective a treatment called phototherapy may be used. Phototherapy involves exposing the skin to certain types of ultraviolet light.

In severe cases, where the above treatments are ineffective, systemic treatments may be used. These are oral or injected medicines that work throughout the whole body.

Additional reporting Caters.

Watch: What people with psoriasis want you to know