A woman who was left feeling like a “freak” due to a painful condition that leaves her body covered in painful red rash has learned to love her ‘ugly skin’.
Single Giorgia Lanuzza, 24, used to dread looking in the mirror as a result of her psoriasis, which covers around 97 per cent of her body.
Giorgia has suffered from the condition, which sees skin become patchy, itchy and sore, leaving flaky wounds since she was 13.
Becoming worse under stress and in heat, Giorgia struggled to accept her ‘ugly skin’ – and often covered up in long-sleeved t-shirts and leggings as a teen.
Schoolmates, strangers and dates avoided touching her because they feared her condition was contagious – though she assured them it wasn’t.
Giorgia reached rock bottom when she was forced to cut short a six month trip to Thailand after realising she could only spent 10 minutes a day in the sun.
Four months on, brave Giorgia is embracing her body – and the welts that cover it – by launching a campaign to prove her condition does not maker her any less beautiful.
Giorgia, from Basingstoke, Hampshire, said: “People would stop and stare at me in the street.
“My psoriasis looks like red, raised spots and people looked at me as if I was disgusting and they might catch something.
“I felt so self-conscious about the condition that it was ruining my life.
“Stressing about my flare-ups only made them worse – so now I look at my skin with a positive mindset.
“Finally I’ve come to terms with my skin and have realised that I am beautiful.
“After all these years I finally have confidence in my own skin I want to show other women that their ‘abnormalities’ could be their strengths.”
Giorgia first developed psoriasis at the age of 13, when her father Giuseppe Lanuzza died suddenly.
She said: “The condition is often triggered by trauma, and when I lost my dad I felt like the world had ended.
“My world went to pieces – we were so close when I was growing up, and I couldn’t bear losing him.
“Grieving was difficult enough. Then, when these flaky patches started appearing on my skin, I had no idea what was happening.
“At first it was just on my arms and scalp, but gradually, it spread across my entire body – even my face and hands.
“I was just a teenager and all I wanted was to be like other girls my age – wearing makeup, pretty clothes and talking about boys.
“Instead, giant patches of my skin were red and unsightly – I felt like a freak compared to other girls my age and did everything to cover up.
“I tried not to itch the dry patches but, even so, in class other girls would point at my scab-covered arms and say that I was ‘infected’.”
Over the next 10 years, Giorgia was prescribed a cocktail of different creams by dermatologists to tackle her psoriasis.
But, as the condition is chronic and becomes worse in moments of stress, exhaustion and in heated temperatures, Giorgia says she couldn’t escape regular flare-ups.
She added: “While other girls would dress in strappy tops and go to parties, I spent my teens wearing long-sleeved t-shirts.
“Though I was painfully self-conscious in my early teens, I was determined psoriasis wouldn’t rob me of my teenage years.
“I tried to think of them as reminders of my dad, as I’d got psoriasis after he died. That was a comfort, but it was still hard.”
Recently Giorgia launched a campaign to embrace the way her body looked including the sore patches.
She explained: “I put together a portfolio of photos of myself in bikinis and other skimpy clothing, to show I wasn’t going to hide my psoriasis anymore.
“The wounds are red and scab-covered in the photos, but I won’t hide them away or edit them. I’m proud of them now – they remind me that I’m strong.”
Now, the wannabe fashionista hopes to follow in the footsteps of Canadian model Winnie Harlow, who has made international headlines.
Like the model, who has broken down traditional stereotype surrounding ‘beauty’ by posing with the skin condition vitiligo.
Giorgia hopes to encourage other women and girls with her own campaign as well as help the 2 per cent of people suffering from the condition.
She added: “I am finally realising that I don’t have to see my psoriasis as a curse. I know my dad would be so proud of me for my attitude.
“Now I’ve come to terms with psoriasis, I want to help others do the same.
“We might have conditions that make us look different from other women, but we are still beautiful.”