Proud psoriasis sufferer refuses to cover up
RED and flaky with patches of dry silvery scales, sufferers of psoriasis could be forgiven for hiding from the public’s judging eyes.
But 25-year-old Giorgia Lanuzza, whose skin was once 97% covered, is determined to challenge the stigma attached to the skin condition.
The photographer has suffered from psoriasis since she was a teenager and isn’t afraid to show off her body to the world.
She said: “As far as I’m concerned I’ve got a lovely body and I don’t mind showing it off.
“If it’s sunny I am going to get my skin out. Every day I speak to people and I catch them looking at my skin but if I cared about it and covered it up then other people would assume it’s a bad thing.
“I used to cover my skin a lot, I never really wore strappy tops and short skirts. It was easy to cover my skin. I never felt like I was standing out because I was wearing so many clothes.
“I tried to hide it as much as I could - as most people still do these days.”
The change in Giorgia’s attitude to her psoriasis came when she saw photos of herself and realised she was beautiful.
She said: “When I didn’t have any models to do my fashion photography I’d use myself as a model.
"I realised that my photos looked good regardless of the fact that I was covered in psoriasis in all of them.
"I thought it doesn’t matter, I feel good in the photos so my skin condition shouldn’t really come into it.”
Having worked in marketing, Giorgia is now dedicating herself full time to her photography and is in the process of launching a website and has already set up a Facebook support page called ‘Different Skin - The real Giorgia’ for fellow sufferers of psoriasis and other skin conditions.
Giorgia said: “As a group members can post their pictures or I’ll post mine.
“When you’re hearing the stories and these people tell you, you’ve made me feel so much more confident its a beautiful thing.“
In the future Giorgia hopes to take portrait shots of fellow skin sufferers to empower and give them confidence.
“It worked for me so it can work for others,” she said.
“So many people are uncomfortable or insecure or unconfident with themselves for their psoriasis or anything else, whether it’s acne or eczema or anything like that. "There is so many of us and it really kills me to think that so many people are unhappy.”
It was Giorgia’s own act of bravery last year that prompted her to set up her Facebook page. After contracting a throat infection while travelling around Thailand, she suffered her worst ever bout of psoriasis.
She said: “Psoriasis is all connected to your throat glands so it completely flared up like nothing I’d ever seen before.
“It got to the point where it wasn’t just odd dots, it was just completely covered. It just got worse and worse. I went to see nurse after doctor after physician. I went to see all sorts of different people.“
With her skin in the worst condition it had ever been - the psoriasis covered 97% of her body - Giorgia was put on an emergency speedboat from Ko Pha Ngan to Koh Samui. Surrounded by medical boxes, she had no idea of the seriousness of her condition until medics at the hospital recommended a course of chemotherapy to contain her skin condition
She said: “That’s when I knew I had to go home."
Back in the UK, dermatologists suggested Giorgia start taking Methotrexate, an incredibly strong drug known for its skin-healing properties.
She said: “They told me that it would substantially lessen how harsh my skin was, however, it wouldn’t make it go for good. "And they would need to test my liver and other internal organs once a month. I wasn’t prepared for that and said no.”
After coming back from Thailand Giorgia also shared photos showing her body covered head to toe with psoriasis – and received an overwhelming positive reaction from the public.
She said: “There was a huge, huge social media reaction – a sort of tidal wave because so many people have the same condition as me.”
In the aftermath of the social media storm Giorgia was even asked to star in an advertising campaign for a psoriasis cream called Exorex.
As part of the campaign, entitled ‘I am beautiful’, Giorgia shared how she first contracted Psoriasis. At age 13 her father died in a motorbike accident in Italy and the resulting stress brought on the skin condition.
She said: “Just after I lost my dad I noticed these patches on my lip, on my knees, on my elbows. I knew instantly what it was because my mom had psoriasis as a teen."It was difficult for me because not only I was going through stress and the grief of losing my dad but, being a 13-year-old with big red dots coming up was quite difficult."
As well as covering up her skin, Giorgia concealed any hurt she was feeling beneath a larger than life personality.
She added: “Instead of going out all my friends came to my house, I was the joker of the pack.”
Protecting herself through her teen and adult years, Giorgia’s confidence and humour mean that any odd glances or cruel comments bounce off her and she embraces the skin condition she contracted as a young teenager:
She said: “It doesn’t affect me just like it shouldn’t affect other people.
"I obviously get judged in a spit second - normally it’s that kind of thing you’re walking down the street, people see your skin and they don’t know if it’s contagious or not and they know it’s not the norm.
“But my dad left me with this skin and I will keep it forever as a memory of him and if this is what is left of me, I’m going to turn in to a good thing.”
To find out more about Giorgia’s Different Skin Facebook page visit www.facebook.com/Different-Skin-The-Real-Giorgia-128175004195699/