A woman has revealed how psoriasis that covers over 95% of her body causes constant discomfort, lesions and bleeding — but she still isn’t afraid to show off her skin.
Shrestha Tiwari, 22, struggles with painful psoriasis flare ups, that cause her to pause her career as a freelance social media strategist when she is unable to work through the pain.
The online health advocate, who has over 2,000 followers (@shrestha_tiwari), claims the reaction from strangers has been a lifelong obstacle to overcome.
But despite the struggles psoriasis has brought her, Shrestha is on a mission to destigmatise visible skin conditions.
“It feels extremely uncomfortable to do normal chores or even sit straight when the body is fully covered with Psoriasis,” Shrestha told NeedToKnow.co.uk.
“I am currently on a career break as it was difficult to manage work along with an active psoriasis flare up that covered 95% of my body.
“I fear that I will have to face another flare up because of my workload which is preventing me from getting back to work full time.
“Sometimes due to the itch, the skin starts to bleed.
“Managing my own skin at such times takes a lot of effort too.
“Applying moisturisers all day, making sure that I don’t hurt myself and trying to simply live becomes more draining.”
Receiving her diagnosis at the age of eight, her lesions first started on her feet, making them easy to hide under her school uniform.
As she grew, so too did her disease, as well as the rise in classmates bullying her and calling her names for her skin.
Shrestha, who is from Chhatisgarh, India said: “One of my classmates who I considered my close friends told my other friends that my hands looked like a pig’s tail.
“When my teachers and other classmates would question me about the situation, I would excuse myself by telling them that I burned myself or fell while riding my bicycle.
“I was made to feel that my skin was not normal throughout my childhood.
“Strangers would look at me weirdly – I would often catch eyes following me.
“These stares and faces would make me feel ugly from the inside.
“It was disheartening to get such unwanted attention.
“That made me feel abnormal and unaccepted.”
Her condition also had a massive impact on Shrestha’s confidence and mental health, after she discovered that strangers perceived the condition to be contagious and would actively avoid her.
She said: “I have always expected to become successful and build a reputation for myself.
“Naturally, it subjected me to a high workload.
“The realisation that Psoriasis has caught me off guard.
“Mentally, I feel very stuck.
“I have left my job and now I feel scared to get back to it, as it might bring back another painful flareup.”
Despite everything, Shrestha has learnt to accept her skin, and started to show off her patches during her second year at college, before openly speaking about her disease on social media.
Now, she proudly shows off her skin to her Instagram followers, offering self love, empowerment, and advice receiving 65,000 views on some of her videos.
“Even though psoriasis is a common disease, it can get lonely for the patient,” she said.
“We feel like we are not understood by people around us because they cannot resonate with what we go through.
“I started to build an online community for psoriasis warriors.
“In the future, I want to help this community by providing them with expert advice on alternative medicine and how they can start their natural healing journey.”
To help manage her psoriasis Shrestha preaches a healthy diet, meditation to manage stress and anxiety and cold showers along with cold pressed coconut oil.
Her followers are quick to comment, praising her for her bravery as she shows off her skin on her Instagram page.
Becky commented: “This was so brave of you to post, and very relatable atm, thank you for the inspo you give me to be more confident at dealing with my own psoriasis stresses.”
“So much more power to you! Hope there’s something more exciting for you in store,” added another.
Kartik said: “You are an inspiration.”
Another follower added: “This seems painful Shrestha. Am glad you’re managing autoimmunity so well.”
“Thank you for sharing, your strength is very inspiring. As a fellow psoriasis warrior who is facing career struggles as well. Take care. Keep on slaying,” said someone.