More than a decade later, I’m still insecure about my psoriasis. My kids don’t even know I have it. I’m a model and actress, so I try to tell makeup artists and hairstylists about my psoriasis ahead of time. Some of them have it too and can relate, but sometimes I have to explain what it is, and that there’s nothing to be scared of. Nobody is perfect. We’re all unique in our own way.
By Holly Dillon, founder of @GetYourSkinOut, a campaign on Instagram that supports and empowers those living with autoimmune and skin conditions
When I was 14, I noticed a spot at the bottom of my chin and went to my general practitioner, who diagnosed it as guttate psoriasis. At that age, you are very much coming into your own, and having something that presents on your face was a real learning curve. I had to understand how I could live with psoriasis, physically and mentally. By the time I was 18, psoriasis covered 98 percent of my body.
My treatment started with topical creams, steroid creams, and then moved on to UVA and UVB light treatment. Between ages 18 and 23, I got light treatments that required me to be in the hospital up to five days a week, an hour or two a day. Balancing that with university and then work was a huge challenge. It was difficult to cope, especially because each light treatment gave me only temporary relief.
My doctors said I’d failed all available treatments. I didn’t know what my life was going to be like, or where to find support. I went home and cried to my family, saying, “There have to be more people like me.” I decided to document my treatment with the help of a photographer friend, Lewis Khan. I put it on Instagram to find more people who understood what I was going through. I got thousands of replies from all over the world — and that’s how #GetYourSkinOut was born. Four years on, it’s grown to be a global movement for positivity, inclusive of all conditions and body types, psoriasis and beyond.
You cannot underestimate the impact living with a condition can have on mental health. The physical and mental must be treated and thought of as one. For me, I’ve gotten to understand my psoriasis by listening to my body — through rest, mindfulness, meditation, and having a balance in my life.
This story originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of Allure. Learn how to subscribe here.
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