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A student with psoriasis on 90 percent of her body believes the painful condition stemmed from sharing vapes at university. Watch here:
Emily Angel Pellegrini, from Poole, Dorset, first noticed a tiny scab on her chest at the start of the year, but she assumed it was just caused by friction from her bra - until it got bigger and spread across her body.
The 21-year-old drama student visited the doctor earlier this month and was diagnosed with guttate psoriasis, a type of psoriasis that appears as small, red and scaly teardrop-shaped spots on the skin.
She was told the condition was triggered by a sore throat, and tests showed glandular fever antibodies.
To Emily's mind, there is no doubt about the cause of her ordeal.
"At university there's these vaping bars that everyone uses and everyone shares theirs around and the same drinks," she said.
"At university you're not always keeping on top of your cleaning, your diet is unhealthy and I think because I wasn't eating the correct food, eating takeaways all the time, and sharing my vapes with everyone, I got a sore throat.
"They [doctor] said that the psoriasis was caused by this sore throat, which is crazy because it was just a mild, normal sore throat that you'd get in the winter.
"I think that sharing vapes was definitely the cause. I remember I would share a vape with someone and then the next day I'd have a sore throat and I'd be like 'oh, I'm not doing that again'.
"And then I would just forget, share it and then would keep constantly getting sore throats, so I reckon that's not something to do anymore."
Of course, it's worth remembering research has indicated that vaping is less harmful than smoking, as well as it being a useful tool to help people quit smoking altogether.
This is of little comfort to Emily at the moment though, as the spread of her psoriasis has had a number of damaging knock-on effects.
She said: "Imagine your skin being so dry that it's cracking and bleeding, it's like that. It's like when you have a dry lip and you open your mouth and the corner slits, it's like that but on my hip.
"It kind of looks like a sunburn or oven burn, but with scales on top of it.
"I can't sleep at night because it's so itchy and uncomfortable so have been given sleeping tablets from my GP because otherwise I'll be up all day and all night.
"I love taking pictures but having psoriasis has stopped that. I don't want pictures of me and I don't really want to leave the house or go on dates or anything - I don't want to meet anyone.
"I don't want people to see me, look and stare at me because it is quite an unordinary thing to see.
"In the past month or two, I've cried at least five times a day about it."
Mercifully, there's now light at the end of the tunnel for Emily, as she's hoping immune suppressant medication will help clear her skin within a few weeks - and if not, she'll be starting light therapy.
What's more, she's found a supportive community on TikTok that has helped her through this trying time in her life.
Emily said: "On TikTok I've had an amazing response - people from all over the world commenting on them or messaged me and told me about their stories and what helped them, everyone's told me that I'm still beautiful and I can get through this.
"Loads of people have messaged me and said that I'm inspiring them and making them feel good about their skin.
"For anyone out there also suffering from psoriasis, no matter how big or small the flare up is we are all beautiful.
"It doesn’t define us or make us any different and we should embrace it as it’s a part of us and our beauty."
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