Claire Spurgin started to develop a rare skin condition that resulted in red spots all over her body when she was only in her teens. The small red dots soon started getting bigger and eventually spread throughout her body, including her face.
Initially, the Brit thought it was from sunburn but when it got worst, she decided to consult a general practitioner. The doctor first diagnosed her with bug bites, then suspected it was ringworm. It wasn’t until months later when a dermatologist confirmed that it was psoriasis.
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For the uninitiated, psoriasis is a skin disease that is caused by the immune system attacking healthy skin cells. Because of this, dead cells will usually pile up on the surface of the skin and present as plaques or scales.
“I hated my skin when my psoriasis started. I was eighteen and just started going out to bars. I wanted to fit in with my friends and wear dresses but I was just too embarrassed,” Claire recalled. “I was choosing to cover up and hide my psoriasis from the world. I was in fear people would notice my skin condition.”
“I was always shocked when strangers would say, ‘What’s wrong with you?’” the 25-year-old restaurant supervisor from Essex, UK added. “Like, they were adults, and they would just ask me to my face. An adult should know how to approach someone in a nicer way. But they didn’t. They were just very upfront.” This prompted her to start an Instagram account to spread awareness on psoriasis.
With this platform (almost 14k IG followers), Claire hopes to shed the misconception that psoriasis is contagious – which it isn’t. Since there isn’t a cure for psoriasis, the English beauty has learned to accept that it’s here to stay and embrace it as part of her.
In Malaysia alone, approximately 800,000 patients with psoriasis still struggle in silence, faced with challenges in diagnosis and treatment, access to care and social stigma. “Knowledge gaps are one of the reasons general practitioners and primary care physicians delay referring patients to dermatologists and rheumatologists,” said Dr Benjamin Cheah Tien Eang, President of Arthritis Foundation of Malaysia (AFM). “This delay in diagnosis also hampers patient treatment and options.”
Major Eugene Clifford Cross, President of Psoriasis Association of Malaysia (PAM) added, “This skin condition makes it challenging for people to get jobs because they are considered as liabilities or persons with disabilities. They also battle poor confidence and self-esteem, which affects their social life, relationships with others, personal development and career progress.”
In April 2021, 3 NGOs joined forces and formed Partners in Psoriatic Care (PPC) to consolidate efforts in improving the quality of life (QOL) of Malaysians affected by psoriasis. For more information, visit: https://www.psoriaticpartners.