"Please, Can You Leave The Pool?": Zain Verjee Opened Up About Her Painful Struggle With An Often-Misunderstood Skin Condition

August 23, 2018 16:31

Zain Verjee’s struggle with psoriasis

Zain Verjee made a spectacular career in journalism. She started as a radio host in her native Nairobi and later became an anchor at Kenya Television Network. In 2000, Verjee joined CNN and spent 14 productive years with one of the most popular news channels in the world.

READ ALSO: Why Does Your Skin Itch? 5 Possible Causes, And When To See The Doctor

For all these years, Verjee kept a secret about her health, and she revealed it only in 2014. The star anchor was diagnosed with psoriasis at age 8 and has been struggling with flare-ups ever since.

Psoriasis can be mild, moderate, or severe. For Verjee, the condition was debilitating. During flare-ups, her body was covered in large, itchy psoriatic patches. She told Everyday Health:

In my early to mid-20s, it was the worst – heavy itching, a terrible stench, vulgaris and guttate lesions everywhere. And my hair was falling out.

Psoriasis is often misunderstood. When some people see it, they freak out thinking it’s contagious. Writing about her story for CNN, Verjee recalled one particular hurtful moment:

"Please can you leave the pool," a woman once told me when I was 22, visiting the Dead Sea in Israel, "we're not comfortable with you in it." She is horrified at my body. I am ashamed. I hang my head.

Verjee tried plenty of treatments, but they only brought temporary relief. Her coworkers never knew about her silent struggle, as she would always cover the affected areas of skin with clothes.

Back in 1999, Verjee was desperate to try anything that could bring relief. A family friend recommended a clinic in South Africa that specialized in treating severe skin disorders using a holistic approach. Verjee was skeptical at first, but she agreed.

The treatment included a strict diet, medication, and exercise regimen. It worked, and Verjee went into remission.

When the anchor finally decided to open up about her condition, she thought about helping other psoriasis sufferers. She told Everyday Health:

I was tired of making up stories about my skin — it’s exhausting, really. I also believed it would help other young women, who would look at myself, or other anchors on TV, and think that’s how we really look and what we really are like. I thought it would be empowering, both deeply liberating for me, and young women may feel like it’s okay to have a disease, and still pursue your dreams, no matter what.

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What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a very common skin condition. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about 7.5 million Americans are living with psoriasis.

Symptoms of psoriasis range from mild to severe. The condition causes rough, scaly patches to appear on the skin, and they may develop anywhere on the body. Symptoms may come and go.

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It’s not exactly clear what causes the condition to develop, but there are some known factors that may trigger flare-ups. According to the Mayo Clinic, these include the following:

  • skin infections;
  • skin injuries;
  • mental stress;
  • smoking;
  • heavy drinking ;
  • vitamin D deficiency;
  • use of certain medicines, including beta blockers.

Psoriasis can be kept at bay with medicines and avoiding triggers. Also, a strict diet may prevent flare-ups, and Verjee’s experience suggests.

Life with psoriasis isn’t always easy, especially during flare-ups. But the right treatments and support of loved ones can help.

READ ALSO: 6 Effective And Natural Home Remedies For Itchy Skin

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.