Psoriasis sufferer, 21, sees her blemishes as an ‘accessory’

Psoriasis sufferer, 21, who felt forced to hide her skin after enduring cruel stares from strangers now sees her painful blemishes as an ‘accessory’ and even dresses to show them off

  • Katrina Desjardins was devastated when her condition spread last year
  • The size of a ‘beachball’, the painful patches frequently crust and bleed
  • Regardless of the weather, Ms Desjardins would cover herself head-to-toe
  • The support of her boyfriend Jesse, 22, encouraged her to wear a bikini
  • She now accepts psoriasis as ‘part of who she is’ and loves her uniqueness 
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A psoriasis sufferer who used to hide her skin now sees her blemishes as an ‘accessory’ and even dresses to show them off.

Katrina Desjardins, 21, from London, Ontario, was devastated when the psoriasis plaques that used to just affect her scalp spread over her entire body last year.

The painful patches, which go up to the size of a ‘beachball’, left her miserable when they would crust and bleed, forcing Ms Desjardins to endure cruel stares from strangers.

After covering herself from head-to-toe and wishing her appearance was different, the support of her boyfriend Jesse, 22, and best friend Victoria, 21, encouraged her to see her disorder differently and wear a bikini in public.

Ms Desjardins, a former telemarketer, said: ‘I have accepted it as part of who I am. I take a peaceful attitude towards it, rather than struggling and wanting it to be different, I want to love and accept myself the way I am.’

She is speaking out to encourage other psoriasis sufferers to be confident in their own skin.

The condition affects around two percent of people in the US and UK.

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Katrina Desjardins, who used to be ashamed of her psoriasis, now sees her blemishes as an ‘accessory’ and even dresses in colours that bring out their pink pigments 

After covering her skin from head-to-toe, she decided to wear a bikini on holiday last April 

Ms Desjardins’ boyfriend Jesse (pictured), 22, encourages her to wear crop tops

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Psoriasis is an immune condition that affects the skin and sometimes the joints.

Around two percent of people in the US and UK suffer from the condition.

Psoriasis occurs when a person’s skin replacement process takes place within days rather than the usual 21-to-28 days.

The accumulation of skin cells builds up to form raised plaques, which can be flaky, scaly and itchy. 

Psoriasis arthritis can occur in the joints near affected skin, causing them to become tender, swollen and stiff.

Anyone can suffer but psoriasis is more common in people in their late teens-to-early 30s or those between the ages of 50 and 60.

Psoriasis’ cause is unclear. Flare ups can be triggered by stress, skin injury, hormonal changes and certain medications.

It is not contagious and there is no cure.

Treatment focuses on managing symptoms via topical creams and gels. 

Source: Psoriasis Association  

‘It’s just part of me’     

Speaking of her newfound confidence, Ms Desjardins said: ‘To me now, when I look in the mirror it’s just familiar and part of me that I’m used to seeing. Sometimes it feels like an accessory if I’m wearing clothes that match the colour.

‘I have always loved pink, so I have lots of nice pink pastels that go well with my psoriasis.

‘If I try to look at myself and think how I would appear without psoriasis, it feels so weird and I think I would feel naked.

‘Sometimes when I see my friends’ bare stomachs it’s weird because I’m so used to seeing colour on my own body now. 

She added: ‘It’s pretty fantastic now, I can leave the house and not even really think about other people looking at me.

‘Recently, I walked through a big crowd wearing a crop top and shorts and didn’t think about anyone looking at me. It wasn’t something that was on my mind at all.

‘Now I’m trying to display and show to other people that it’s ok and not the worst thing in the world, hopefully they will feel more comfortable about their psoriasis too.’

Ms Desjardins has accepted her blemishes and say she would feel ‘naked’ without them 

After feeling ashamed for so long, she says she no longer cares what others may think 

‘I was covering my skin because I was ashamed’

Speaking of how her condition took a turn for the worst, Ms Desjardins said: ‘It spread to my entire body, my scalp, forehead, the back of my ears, torso, arms and legs, the only place it isn’t is my hands and feet.

‘When I was working in telemarketing I would cry in the bathroom, but I’ve taken steps to take care of myself and have grown to accept it.

‘On my stomach they all expanded together so it’s almost my entire torso that is covered, a similar size to a beach ball.

‘It felt like something foreign on my body that I didn’t want there, it was a constant sight every day and I wished it wasn’t on me. 

She added: ‘I struggled to come to terms with it for a long time and tried to hide it for as long as I could.

‘I was always trying to cover my skin, I wore long sleeves and pants, no matter how hot it was, so I was always uncomfortable.

‘I was covering my skin all the time because I was pretty ashamed, it happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to adjust and it was a shock.’

Ms Desjardins insists it is better to face your fears and be true to yourself than hide away 

Ms Desjardins’ newfound confidence means she enjoys fashion and borrows friends’ clothes

‘It’s better to face your fears then hide away’

During a cruise holiday in April, Ms Desjardins confronted her fears and wore a bikini. 

Ms Desjardins said: ‘When the weather started to get nicer my boyfriend encouraged me to wear crop-tops, despite knowing I didn’t like showing my skin.

‘Then I went for a cruise with my best friend for eight days and that was instrumental in helping me.

‘Because I was always with her, she was constantly telling me that I looked great and not to worry about my psoriasis.

‘On the cruise, people were very open and curious, one person told me about their husband having it and kids came up to me interested in what it was.

‘I figured out it’s better to face your fears head on then hide them away longer, it wasn’t doing me any good to hide it.’

She always covered up, even in hot weather, which made her uncomfortable (before)

While on holiday, Ms Desjardins’ best friend Victoria, 21, told her how great she looked

‘I have decided this is what I am’  

Ms Desjardins documents her progress online in the hope of empowering others.

She said: ‘I didn’t expect everyone to be so overwhelmingly supportive, people have told me they love seeing my posts.

‘Now I borrow all my friends’ clothes, I wear cute summer dresses and feel great wearing crop tops and shorts.

‘Before I used to be anxious and sad, I used to break down crying to my boyfriend all the time, psoriasis was one more stress to deal with. He can attest to me being happier now.

‘I have decided this is what I am. People can judge me but I know I have friends and people who love me, so I can’t be doing too badly.’

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