A young Donegal woman living with a painful skin condition is refusing to hide it any longer.
Four years ago, Mariam Murphy (21) developed a skin condition that changed her life.
She was living and studying in Letterkenny when she began suffering from an unusual blistering rash. The lumps appeared all over her body and caused pigmentation loss and widespread scarring.
Mariam, who is originally from Ballyshannon, suffered sleep loss and had to leave college as she struggled to find a diagnosis.
Doctors now believe that Mariam has a form of Nodular Prurigo, but she continues to get specialist referrals to get concrete answers.
Dealing with a skin condition during her formative years as a woman greatly impacted Mariam’s self-esteem. She is currently working full-time in Letterkenny, but her daily life is affected by pain and insecurities.
“My skin stings, it’s itchy, my clothes stick to my skin. At its worst, I couldn’t sleep or shower. I couldn’t wash my own hair my hands were so bad,” she explained.
“I was trying to get on with it and go to work and live normally. I would put tan on to try and cover it, but it was getting worse and harder to hide.
“It’s uncomfortable and it makes me feel disgusting but this is my reality and I am trying to learn to cope and exist with it.”
Mariam is getting some relief from steroid tablets and creams. The support that is lacking, she said, is advice on mental health and self-acceptance.
She recently made the brave step to reveal her scars and is encouraging others to do the same.
“Other people have Nodular Prurigo from what I’ve seen online. But I know nobody who has it. Most of the doctors I’ve seen hadn’t seen it before,” Mariam said.
“I think it’s sad that there’s no one in magazines or Instagram showing other types of skin. So many people have other conditions like psoriasis, alopecia, that are going to affect your self-consciousness. It’s not equal representation.”
Mariam wants to see more body types and skin types so that people with imperfections are not made to feel as though they have anything to hide.
She said: “There are tricklings of change here and there in the media with the body positivity movement but it is too slow if you ask me.
“I need more influencers, models, clothing and beauty companies to open their eyes and look at the world around them and the people in it.
“Our biggest issues aren’t stretch marks and little imperfections that are hardly noticeable, it’s severe acne, its scaly skin, it’s scabs, it’s blisters and it’s bald patches.”
Mariam said she wants the world to represent people with imperfect skin more. She is planning to launch her own movement online by beginning a blog www.skindeeply.com and is hoping other people in similar situations will reach out.
“We are out here existing and probably all a little insecure and alone and that has to change now.”
Follow www.skindeeply.com for more updates from Mariam.