A woman was told she ‘looked like she had the plague’ after an innocent kiss on New Year’s Eve caused a flare up of an incurable disease.
Aimee Godden, 34, first developed psoriasis, a skin condition that causes red and flaky patches of skin covered with silvery scales, when she was 14.
It left her with large patches on her elbows and behind her knees, which she hid with her clothes.
But in 2018, following a traumatic break-up and a bout of tonsillitis which she caught from a cheeky New Year’s Eve snog, it flared up severely.
Fashion retail manager Aimee was distraught when the red spots started appearing all over her face and body – and even faced abuse from customers who said she looked like ‘she had the plague’.
Aimee from Ashford, Kent, said: “When it first appeared on my face I was distraught and I cried every day.
“I felt like I looked hideous and was thinking ‘how will I cover this up?’.
“Especially after a break-up I was thinking ‘how will anyone find me attractive?’.
“If I met someone and I’d covered it with make-up would he think I was horrific when I took my make up off?
“At work customers would stare at me or say they didn’t want to be served by me.
“One lady told me I looked like I had the plague.
“One little boy shouted at me in the street that my face looked like a piece of s***.
“I cried a lot and didn’t know how I would cope. My first instinct was to cover it up but it would just look cakey with foundation.”
“I would go out in rollnecks and pull them up over my chin and wear a woolly hat to cover my forehead and I remember my friend saying ‘it’s really sad that you have to hide your face’.”
However, after a few weeks Amiee began to accept her condition and took a brave step.
“It took me about a month to start to come to terms with it – then I decided to share a picture online and the reaction I got was amazing.
“It made me feel like I was beautiful, people said it made me more unique.
“Someone from a psoriasis association in the US said I looked feline and called me ‘cheetah girl’.
“I liked that a lot so I thought I could take that name and make something of it.
“I started getting positive comments on my posts and it really boosted my confidence.
“People would message me saying they were going through the same and can’t leave the house and asking how I did it and saying that I’ve inspired them.”
Aimee said: “It was in January when I went through a really tough break up with the man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with and I was struck down with tonsillitis that it became guttate psoriasis – which is smaller patches spread across the body.
“Mainly it forms on your limbs but with me it’s a rare case where it’s all over my face and my body.
“At first I was diagnosed with chicken pox and went through that treatment but it wasn’t clearing up, in fact it made it worse because it dried it out.
“I went to see a different doctor who diagnosed guttate psoriasis. The most common cause is stress and the second is tonsillitis which I also had.
“It’s really uncomfortable. There’s a lot of discomfort especially in the evenings and overnight.
“I think you focus on pain at those times when you’re switching off from the day.
“It’s very sore and it feels raw all the time. I don’t know how to describe the itching, it’s unbearable.
“I spend my evenings covering myself in cream and I go to bed with a cold pack, it’s a constant battle not to scratch.
“I think I’m not scratching but then friends will say ‘you’re touching it’. It’s so hard to avoid.”
Over the years Aimee has tried using a variety of creams and treatments, as well as changing her diet in the hopes that she could calm it down.
She said: “There’s a really big community on social media who share advice. At the moment I’m using about 12 creams from all over the world.
“I will try anything. I have different creams for different parts of my body but I’ve not found anything that’s really helped.
“I use coconut oil. I started using it on my face and I wash in it now as I can no longer use shower gel because my skin is so sensitive.
“I’ve heard that if your body is acidic that doesn’t help so I’m trying to make my body more alkaline. I use test strips to check my PH levels.
“At the moment I’m eating a lot of greens to try and make it more alkaline.
“I’m not eating meat, dairy, gluten, anything that contains nightshade and not a lot of fruit. I want to try and cure myself from the inside.
“To be honest it’s unbearable. I’m used to eating burgers, I can’t have any alcohol or drink fruit juice and I have to check the menu before I go anywhere.
“My eating habits have become miserable and it’s something that upsets me on a daily basis but I want to see if it helps.
“I think I will have to try this for the foreseeable future as it takes a long time to rebalance your PH level.
“I think it will get to the point where I’m used to it and I don’t know if I will go back to my previous diet. I think I will be too scared to risk going back.
“It’s incurable, all you can do is manage it so you have to learn to live with it.
“They are like sores and I try and keep them very moisturised. You run the risk that when they’re dry they become flaky and it’s not a very pleasant look.
“I would rather it looks red and blotchy then dry and flaky.
The fashion lover has had to adapt her bohemian wardrobe as the material of the clothes she used to wear makes her skin really sore.
Now she lives in loose tops and cotton leggings.
She said: “Jeans are now my enemy – they make my skin really sore. Things like sequin tops or knitwear are a no-no.
“I wear a lot of wigs and headscarves now because it’s really thinned out my hair. My scalp is caked in psoriasis.
“That’s part of my look – leaving my skin clear but putting make up on my eyes and wearing wigs and headscarves.”
Aimee has since featured in a number of inspiring campaigns which empower people to embrace the skin they’re in.
She said: “When I first got this I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life.
“I thought I would have been settled and with a family but now it feels like this was meant to be and this is what I’m supposed to do – to support and inspire others.
“When I first got it I would look in the mirror and ask why it had happened but now I think I’m pretty lucky.”