Real life stories are an invaluable way of showing the impact of skin conditions which exist but are not known of and will help us make a difference to thousands of sufferers every year.
Hearing about the experiences of others can motivate, educate and inspire people. It can also build compassion and understanding - as well as giving hope and support to people who may be going through a difficult time. Your story might inspire someone else to join in with our support and fundraising activities.
Your stories help us to connect with the public and communicate the progress we’re making in our attempt to raise awareness.
When we share our stories, we learn that we are not alone in the fight. When we share our stories, our experiences take on a deeper meaning; we channel energy, knowledge, inspiration and strength to the millions of people living with skin conditions.
We are keen to hear from anyone who would like to share their experiences, help us support each other, and exchange tips on what has worked for you.
If you would like to share your story or get involved, please fill in the private form below. Skin Deep respect your privacy, and will not publish your story including personal details, unless approved in writing to do so.
We hope to hear from you soon! In the meantime please browse through the stories below.
My evening began like any other ordinary evening: after not doing much in the afternoon, I
had decided to take a shower. Since I have long hair that I normally tie back into a ponytail I go
through my routine of brushing the wet hair so it is straight for the hair-dryer. This time, however, I
noticed a strange sensation as I ran the soft bristles through. It felt like the same painful tingling if
I’d inadvertently pulled out a healthy hair follicle and the resulting scalp had formed a small
inflamed, red bump. Thinking nothing of it, I carried on my routine of grooming and went about my
business. Things seemed fine the next few days, but with the tingling not subsiding. I still felt no
urge to think anything was untoward, being well versed in biology I knew it would pass.
A few more days had passed and I began to notice something in addition to the now painful
scalp: what was at first limited to just the top and forehead was slowly beginning to spread down
towards my eyelid. My sister-in-law who was living with us at the time urged me to see the GP.
Being stubborn as a donkey, I said I’d think about it. It wasn’t until the following morning when I
looked at my wardrobe mirror that I noticed something very odd. I couldn’t open my right eye all
the way. So that was why I was seeing things a little blurry and not because I was still half asleep!
I came downstairs and my mother took one look at my face and practically forced me out
the door to see the GP. I said I’d have to make an appointment first and wondered how long it would
take for me to get seen. As luck would have it, a healthcare assistant would be able to see me. The
local health centre had undergone some radical changes to its appointments system and required a
small explanation of the ailment in question in order for the staff assess the gravity and urgency of
While I wasn’t seen by a doctor as such, the nurse was more than competent to make a
diagnosis of shingles from what I had told her and what she could divine herself. But, to be certain
she called upon two general practitioners to view my symptoms and both confirmed it was indeed
shingles. They kept asking me if I was in any pain or discomfort as there is almost always some kind
of burning sensation that accompanies such a condition. At first when I heard the name herpes
being bandied about, I immediately thought they’re going to ask me awkward questions about my
sex-life and what I’d say in return. I was assured that it wasn’t the common herpes virus that almost
every one associates with STIs. . This was, I was told, herpes zoster. Ok, I thought, this would be
treatable with a round of antibiotics that I could pick up from the local pharmacy immediately
afterwards. How wrong I was. The healthcare assistant told me I would have to make a trip to the
local hospital, along with some documents detailing what was wrong and possible treatment routes.
This trip was chiefly because of any possible infection or damage to my eye. The hospital was not
alien to me – I was born there and, in all likelihood, I would die there someday, but I digress. I was
told not to drive there under any circumstance, because of my eye. Ever the independent, I
shrugged off offers of a lift and accompaniment to take the bus there.
I remember where the eye clinic in Croydon University Hospital is situated very well, since I
had taken my late father there many times. I presented the papers to the middle-aged receptionist
who smiled sympathetically and after a few seconds of awkward silence I told her why I was here. I
had thought she couldn’t make heads or tails of the papers, but she pointed me to the set of double
doors and through to the right. As I sat down, I became aware of how many people were waiting in
the eye clinic, which has its own name seemingly separate from the rest of the hospital (Moorfields Eye Centre). From experience I know that the waiting is the longest part, not because of the worry
or apprehension, but actually, physically waiting.
So I was sat there in front of a young couple trying to look nonchalant as if whatever affliction I had wasn’t affecting in me in the slightest: that I almost had disdain for it and my being there. But as the minutes went by I noticed something strange was happening, something very gradual and subtle but it was happening nonetheless. My right eye was closing up. The inflammation had got to the point where it was forcing my eyelid downwards. I was fighting to keep it open. In my mind I was imagining I was some unfortunate victim of Rocky Balboa with a swollen and droopy right side. I decided I wasn’t going to fight the droopiness any longer and left my eyelid to sag. It almost closed. By now I could see people were looking at me and quietly wondering what in God’s name was happening to this young man. The couple in front of me, particularly looked uncomfortable. This was all probably in my mind, I thought.
At long last I heard my name called and made my way into a brightly lit room with the eye specialist. He asked me the same questions I had been asked before and told me it could be either a viral or bacterial infection, or one leading into the other. I was prescribed several antibiotics and antivirals both oral and topical treatments.
Being the type of person that believes in regimented and regulated behaviour I knew that taking these medicines at the pre-allocated times would greatly benefit and improve my condition. In fact I’d known relatives who were so blasé about their medications that I baulked at the idea. These medicines needed to be taken at something like four or five times in any 24-hour period, so I worked out what interval I’d needed to wake up and which one to ingest or apply. I fired up MS Excel® and made a rudimentary spreadsheet detailing times, quantity and of which. Printed it out and taped it to my wardrobe mirror, this was a course of medication I was determined to see to its completion and as exactly prescribed by the doctor.
The ingestible tablets are just like any other so there’s nothing more to see here. I remember, however, the topical application was a different kettle of fish altogether. It was given in a tiny tube with a nozzle on the end. I was told by the doctor exactly how to apply the contents of this tube. And it was this: I would pull down my lower eyelid and expose its innermost surface to air. Then I would squeeze out a thin medium-long strip of this anti-viral along the inside of my eyelid.
Under no circumstances would I touch the tip of the nozzle to my eyeball. I was told to blink rapidly a few times to cause a blurring sensation in my eye. This, according to the instructions and the doctor, was normal. It would pass soon enough. I, like many others, want instant results: I wanted one application and one set of swallowed
tablets and be the end of it. I am that impatient. I am part of the generation that wants everything done immediately to get instant satisfaction. But my more mature, intellectual side told me to stay with it and you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Like all treatments for anything that involved self-medication, one will not see results until after a few days or a week and during that time I thought I’d at least Google® this herpes zoster and find out more about it. Herpes zoster (or just zoster) is an infection of a nerve area caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This virus is more commonly known as chickenpox. Many people have chickenpox as children, but while the body successfully fights off the symptoms, the virus remains, located mostly in the spinal cord. For as yet unknown reasons, this virus re-activates often decades
later and along the nerves. While a person with shingles cannot infect another with shingles, the other party, can be infected with chickenpox if they haven’t already been exposed.
Needless to say after about a week, I was back to normal with only very slight scarring that
has cleared up since.[/su_spoiler]
The prevalence of skin disease exceeds that of obesity, hypertension, or cancer. Despite skin being the largest organ of the human body, dermatological research remains one of the most under funded areas of medicine. In a world where society has an increasing preoccupation with image and it’s importance to every aspect of a person’s life, sufferers of skin diseases are feeling and being more marginalised and isolated than ever.
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