A waitress claims to have overcome the psoriasis she battled for seven years and ditched her medication for good due to a strict vegan diet.
Jessica Belshaw, 20, from Torpoint, Cornwall, first noticed spots on her abdomen when she was just 13 years old, which later covered her entire body in agonising red, flaky patches.
After years on steroid creams, Ms Belshaw decided to give up her prescribed treatments in favour of ‘natural healing’ almost 12 months ago after suffering severe steroid withdrawals that caused her extreme discomfort every time she missed a dose.
Ms Belshaw, who suffers from the guttate form of the disorder, credits her vegan, gluten-free and mostly raw diet for helping her keep her condition under control, as well as yoga and meditation for managing her stress levels and avoiding flare ups.
Although she still suffers from occasional break outs, Ms Belshaw has learnt to accept her condition and is speaking out to encourage others to do the same.
She said: ‘My first advice would be acceptance, accepting who you are is the first stage in order to love who you are and heal your body.’
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that affects around two per cent of people in the UK.
Jessica Belshaw claims to have overcome the psoriasis she battled for seven years and ditched her medication for good due to a strict vegan, gluten-free diet consisting of raw foods
Ms Belshaw decided to give up her prescribed treatments in favour of ‘natural healing’ almost 12 months ago after suffering severe steroid withdrawals that caused her extreme discomfort
Although she still suffers flare ups, her diet, along with meditation, keeps them under control
Ms Belshaw credits self-love for helping her to cope with her condition and encourages others to accept their appearance (images show Ms Belshaw’s improved psorasis over time)
WHAT IS GUTTATE PSORIASIS?
Guttate psoriasis causes sufferers to experience a widespread rash of small spots.
Known as ‘tear drop’ psoriasis, these spots are often a bright pink or red on fair skin types and darker in those with less-light complexions.
Guttate psoriasis is caused by a patient’s immune system overreacting, leading to inflammation and the development of plaques on the skin.
This occurs due to sufferers’ skin replacement process speeding up; taking just a few days to replace skin cells that usually take 21 to 28 days.
Treatment typically includes steroid creams and vitamin D-based lotions.
UV light therapy and antibiotics may also help.
Source: Psoriasis Association
‘It is okay to have bad days’
Ms Belshaw said: ‘I eat a completely vegan and gluten-free diet. I eat a lot of raw foods and leafy green vegetables.
‘I drink plenty of water and rarely drink a lot of alcohol now.
‘I give myself “me” time every day and practice yoga and meditate twice a day to keep my stress levels down and just to give me a good perspective on day-to-day life.’
Ms Belshaw, who is travelling around Australia, encourages people who suffer from skin conditions to be kind to themselves.
She said: ‘My first advice would be acceptance, accepting who you are is the first stage in order to love who you are and heal your body.
‘Nourish your body and start from the inside out, making changes to your diet to see improvements on your skin.
‘It does take a bit longer to see improvements on the outside but you will feel completely different on the inside, which will make you feel determined and strong.
‘Really love who you are as person, give yourself affirmations every day, look in the mirror and recognise your beauty as a person. Find an activity which you love and practice it as often as you can.
‘I know this one sounds like a cliché, but it is okay to have bad days as your bad days will influence the good ones and your journey towards your healing.’
Ms Belshaw also credits the support of others for giving her the confidence to accept her appearance.
She said: ‘I really am so grateful to have such supportive people in my life. Especially the friends I have met travelling they inspire me and more to embrace my unique skin to the world.’
Ms Belshaw claims she also eats lots of green leafy vegetables and avoids excessive alcohol
Giving herself ‘me time’ allows Ms Belhsaw to manage her stress levels and avoid flare ups
She encourages people to look in the mirror and ‘recognise your own beauty’
Although she admits to having bad days, Ms Belshaw claims these add to her self acceptance
WHAT IS STEROID WITHDRAWAL?
A condition known as topical steroid addiction arises from the use of such creams to treat conditions like eczema.
The disorder is characterised by red, itchy, burning skin that can appear after ceasing topical steroid treatments, or even between use.
Sufferers become increasingly tolerant of the condition and experience psychological symptoms on withdrawal.
Treatment focuses on anxiety support, sleep aids, itch management, infection prevention and immunosuppressants.
Source: The International Topical Steroid Addiction Network
‘I was covered head to toe’
Ms Belshaw kept her condition to herself until she was 15 years old and suffered a serious flare up that affected her entire body.
She said: ‘I was covered head to toe. I really felt at my lowest point.’
‘I would constantly look at old pictures of myself when I had clear skin, and would even start to look at my friends and just thought they didn’t know how lucky they are.’
Ms Belshaw was previously able to avoid attention by covering her skin, even in the height of summer, but noticed people moved away when they noticed red, flaky patches on her hands.
She said: ‘People would clock on [and] they would instantly move away from me and ask if what I had was contagious, and even when I told them that they couldn’t catch it as it was an autoimmune disease they would still keep their distance, which was a horrible feeling.’
Ms Belshaw posts about her psoriasis experiences on her Instagram account Nourished2health.
Ms Belshaw kept her condition to herself until she was 15 years old and had a serious flare up
She claims people would avoid her, thinking her red, flaky skin was contagious