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Man credits diet change and £19.99 skin cream for treating his psoriasis

Scot Cunningham says he became a ‘hermit’ after suffering from the skin condition

Louise Lazell
Thursday 24 November 2022 07:10 GMT
Related: I’m Done Hiding My Psoriasis

An Arts Council officer who “became a hermit” after waking to find his face and body covered in red and scaly raindrop-sized patches is looking forward to celebrating Manchester Pride this weekend after a £19.99 “miracle cream” and diet change cured his angry-looking skin.

Blessed with a clear complexion throughout his teens, Scot Cunningham, 27, began to suffer with mild psoriasis – a skin condition which causes flaky patches of often scaly skin – on his arms and torso when he turned 21.

Steroid creams kept the mild flare-ups at bay until October 2021, when Scot, of Salford, Greater Manchester, woke to find his entire body and face covered in unsightly and itchy red patches which would not budge.

His confidence dented so badly he seldom went out, in April 2022, Scot says he swapped steroid creams for a plant based diet and an over the counter remedy costing less than £20, adding: “Seeing my face clearing made me tear up with happiness.”

The psoriasis at its worst on Scot Cunningham’s back (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “I felt on top of the world and like my bubbly, funny, sassy self again.”

When Scot first started getting psoriasis in October 2017 while studying for his Masters in radio and TV script writing at The University of Salford, he thought little of it.

He said: “I had just moved to my student accommodation and climbing out of the shower I noticed two or three red patches on my torso.

“I just assumed that it was the generally grimy environment that caused my skin to react.”

Scot Cunningham, 27, had psoriasis covering his whole body (Collect/PA Real Life)

Heading to the GP, Scot was prescribed steroid creams to ease dry skin patches – which worked initially.

He said: “The creams worked, but when I look back, I think they only masked the problem rather than actually dealing with it.

“I got into the same old cycle of using the steroid creams when my skin was bad for two weeks, watching the marks fade, then using normal moisturiser for two weeks. Then my skin would get bad and I’d use the creams again.

“It was a vicious cycle, but at that point, it was just a minor inconvenience.”

Scot Cunningham, 27, in June 2022, after regaining his confidence (Collect/PA Real Life)

Scot added: “My skin didn’t cause me physical pain and you couldn’t see the patches with clothes on, so I could still work, socialise and date without feeling self-conscious. ”

But then, in October 2021, Scot, who is single, came down with a throat infection, only to wake up a few days later to find tiny, red, scaly patches across his entire body.

“It seemed to happen overnight,” he said.

“There were dozens of these raindrop size pink scales all over me. I was really scared. I had no idea what had happened.”

Scot Cunningham, 27, lost all confidence when the psoriasis spread to his face (Collect/PA Real Life)

Heading back to the GP, Scot was diagnosed with guttate psoriasis – a skin condition which causes small drop-shaped sores on the chest, arms, legs and scalp – and was prescribed more steroid creams.

But this time they did not work, according to Scot, who said: “The creams seemed to stop working, but whenever I saw anyone, they would just say they were my only option.

“I had always felt grateful of my youthful looks and I’ve always got attention on dating apps, but I started to lose all my confidence.“I had this horrific sense of dread every time I looked in the mirror – I looked awful. I felt totally dejected and completely hopeless.”

Psoriasis on Scot’s underarm (Collect/PA Real Life)

When the sores started to spread to Scot’s face in March 2022, he stopped going out.

He said: “I became a hermit.

“I turned off my camera during team meetings at work and I stopped organising to meet with friends, because I didn’t want them to see me.

“If I had to go to the supermarket, I could see all the kids staring at me and it made me feel awful.”

Scot Cunningham, 27, with psoriasis around his ear (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “I went to a newsagent once and they asked me if I had a disease and I was mortified. I thought, ‘I’ll never buy my essentials from you again.'”

Heading to the urgent treatment centre at Manchester Royal Infirmary, Scot was recommended private light therapy – which is often used to treat psoriasis – but faced a 60-week waiting list on the NHS.

Prescribed another cream and antihistamines, which had no effect, he decided to take matters into his own hands.He said: “It got to April and I thought, ‘I can’t be dealing with this anymore.'”

Scot Cunningham, 27, before and after finding the cream and changing his diet (Collect/PA Real Life)

Scot added: “I started researching guttate psoriasis for hours every evening – from 5:30pm after work to 2am – trying to understand the condition and how to make it better.”

Speaking with fellow sufferers on skin forums and digesting the research, Scot set himself a new regime – starting with his diet.

He said: “Before I started this, I never ate much fruit or vegetables. I just lived off ready meals – mainly pasta and chicken dinner ones – and anything chocolatey I could get my hands on.

“I started with an apple, cucumber and celery juice cleanse from the natural skin care company, Hanna Sillitoe, for three days and then started making dairy-free, meat-free and gluten-free soups and dinners.”

Scot Cunningham, 27, before and after finding the cream and changing his diet (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “I had things like apple and beetroot soup, parsnip and carrot soup or pea risotto and mushroom meatballs.”

At the same time, Scot started taking supplements including Vitamin D3, Zinc, Omega3 and magnesium, as well as exploring plastic-free moisturisers.

He said: “I found Balmonds Skin Salvation after reading recommendations and picked up the 120ml pot for £19.99 for my face and I gradually started to notice a difference.

“On my body, I started using another cream as well as putting coconut oil and turmeric essential oil on my body at night.”

Scot Cunningham, 27, feeling ‘fabulous’ again (Collect/PA Real Life)

Paired with Scot’s new diet, gradually, he started to see a difference.

He said: “I was warned that for the first few days, sometimes it can get worse before it gets better, which it did briefly.

“Then I hit about a month in and the patches were starting to finally get smaller and less red.”

Regaining some confidence, Scot decided to join friends on holiday in Gran Canaria, Spain, in June, where he noticed a massive difference.

Scot Cunningham, 27, feels better than ever now his skin has cleared (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “Every day, I had been improving and being in the sea and taking time away, by the end of the 10 days, my face and body looked almost clear.

“I couldn’t believe it – I felt incredible.”While allowing himself to reintroduce some white meat and fish back into his diet, Scot continued his new love of fruit and vegetables and kept up his strict new skincare regime – finally starting to fill his social calendar again as his improved complexion restored his confidence.He said: “I went back out clubbing with friends in June and it was amazing, dancing the night away and feeling fabulous.”

Scot Cunningham, 27, with friends at Salford Pride in June (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “I am back on the dating apps too and feel so much more confident.

“It has been life-changing.”And with Manchester Pride coming up this August Bank Holiday weekend, Scott cannot wait to enjoy the celebration with friends without worrying about his skin.

He said: “I can’t wait to be with friends and to just feel good in myself, knowing that I am healthier and happier inside and out.”

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