Instagram can be an effective tool to help enlighten and educate others, which is exactly what user Ciena Rae Nelson did when she posted a side-by-side image in order to demonstrate what it’s like to live with psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that is characterized by an abnormally high rate of skin cell growth, which causes skin to be dry, red and inflamed. On the left, the aspiring actress shows what she looks like with makeup covering dry spots caused by the chronic skin condition. On the right, she used Photoshop to increase the saturation on the same image to illustrate what the symptoms of the disease feel like from the inside out.
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According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis affects nearly 3 percent of the world’s population. Famous sufferers include Kim Kardashian, Clara Delevingne and Britney Spears. While the cause of the skin condition is unknown, researchers believe that the immune system, genetics and the environment contribute to the development of the disorder. For Nelson, a self professed “psoriasis warrior,” it’s a condition that isn’t talked about enough which is why she begin sharing images of her outbreaks on social media.
In an interview with Hello Giggles, Nelson talks about some of the daily struggles she faces due to the disease. In addition to the physical symptoms, it can also impact your social life and self-esteem. “People think I’m flaky (no pun intended) because I don’t want to go out last minute depending on how I’m feeling. They don’t understand that I have to judge it day by day, and that they may not always SEE my disease but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. (This is a struggle with employment and calling out of work as well),” says Nelson. And she’s not alone, her Instagram post has received hundreds of comments from supporters and fellow sufferers who appreciate her candidness about what she calls an “#invisibleillness.”
While there is no cure for psoriasis, a range of options from prescribed creams and ointments to phototherapy treatments can be used to lessen the symptoms. Nelson advises other sufferers to lead a healthy lifestyle first and foremost. She writes, “Hydrate. Get enough sleep. Eat healthy foods. Nourish your biggest organ, and all of the rest while you’re at it.”