LIFESTYLE

Woman With Severe Psoriasis Launches Campaign To Show She's 'Beautiful' After Years Of Hiding Her Wounds

25/08/2015 11:37 BST | Updated 25/08/2015 12:59 BST

A woman with a painful condition that leaves her body covered in rashes and scabby wounds has revealed how she's finally learned to love the skin she's in.

Giorgia Lanuzza has suffered from psoriasis since she was 13. The condition leaves 97% of her skin patchy, itchy and sore.

The 24-year-old from Basingstoke said she used to dread looking in the mirror because of her psoriasis. But now she says she'll no longer hide her psoriasis wounds.

"I'm proud of them now - they remind me that I'm strong," she said.

giorgia lanuzza

Giorgia Lanuzza

The 24-year-old struggled to accept her skin condition, growing up, 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.

Lanuzza 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, as the heat would make her condition flare up even more.

But four months on, Lanuzza is embracing her body by launching a campaign to prove her condition does not make her any less beautiful.

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She said that earlier in her teens, she felt so self-conscious about the condition that it was "ruining" her life. And whenever she became stressed about her skin, it would only make the flare-ups ten times worse.

"Now I look at my skin with a positive mindset," she said. "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."

Story continues below the slideshow:

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Lanuzza first developed psoriasis at the age of 13, when her father Giuseppe Lanuzza died suddenly.

"The condition is often triggered by trauma," she explained, "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."

giorgia lanuzza

Giorgia Lanuzza

"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," she said.

"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, Lanuzza 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 hot temperatures, she couldn't escape regular flare-ups.

"While other girls would dress in strappy tops and go to parties, I spent my teens wearing long-sleeved t-shirts," she said. "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."

giorgia lanuzza

Giorgia Lanuzza

Recently Lanuzza launched a campaign to embrace the way her body looks 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."

The 24-year-old hopes to follow in the footsteps of model Winnie Harlow, who breaks down traditional beauty stereotypes by posing with the skin condition vitiligo.

Lanuzza hopes to encourage other women and girls with her campaign, as well as help the 2% of people suffering from the condition.

"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," she said.

"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."