By Josh Saunders
A woman branded ‘contagious’ for mystery allergy that causes daily hives, facial swelling and chronic exhaustion that she fears will stop her attending her father’s wedding.
Shauna Campbell, 21, from Dublin, Ireland, believed small red patches that appeared on her skin two-years-ago was caused by her washing detergent.
But over time, the patches worsened and became more recurrent, to the point where she has been battling with daily reactions for five months.
She suffers with chronic idiopathic urticaria that present symptoms similar to an allergic reaction but without any known cause.
At her worst the flare-ups can cause her eyes and lips to swell up and large ring-shaped welts to appear all over her body leaving her with a burning, itchy pain.
The symptoms have been confused for ‘ring worm’ and a ‘contagious disease’ by strangers who regularly comment on how ‘horrible’ it looks.
The rashes have left her housebound, unable to look at herself in the mirror and at times barely able to leave her room due to the embarrassment and pain.
She fears that if she still has flareups she won’t be able to a bridesmaid at her dad, 45-year-old Ronan’s wedding in September.
Shauna, a loan advisor, said: “Two years ago I would have a few little dots and was fine, but now it’s constant, it’s even on my face, every morning I wake up it’s there.
“It feels like my whole body is burning, I can feel it coming on even before it appears on my skin.
“Some mornings my eyes are so swollen I can hardly see, then the hives are hot and itchy.
“They are so red and distinctive, I even have them over the palms of my hands when I have a bad flare-up, there are large rings on my forehead and other parts become swollen.
“It’s horrible I can’t look myself during a flareup and sometimes can hardly leave the room and definitely don’t even leave the house.
“It is stopping me from doing so many things, I can’t make plans because if I have a flareup I can’t go, it takes control of your life never knowing what will happen.
“My dad is getting married in September and I’m a bridesmaid, I’m worries because if I have a flareup I won’t be able to go.
“The thought of wearing a dress at my dad’s wedding with the rash terrifies me.
“I used to be great but now I can never wear short sleeves or a skirt, I always have to be covered up because of the flareups.
“People think I have something contagious or that it’s ring worm, I was constantly told being that I looked drained which made me feel worse.”
Shauna has been experiencing urticaria for two years, but since November last year after having a bad flare-up her symptoms have been worse and every day.
She said: “It would die down initially then some mornings it will be the whole day, it’s made how it comes up on you.
“I was worried thinking it was Lyme disease because the welts were proper rings, but after samples and tests we found out it wasn’t.”
Shauna has finds herself hiding away from others during particularly bad flare-ups when she is unable to cover her skin in long sleeves.
The reaction from the public has only intensified, with them staring and constantly describing how ‘bad’ the rash appears to be.
Shauna said: “It’s really embarrassing, I have to leave work because of it and just get so tired from it all they I need to nap a lot.
“You can see people looking at you, even when you’re trying to hide it.
“No one else really understands apart from others in the urticaria community, people think you can take an antihistamine and it will go away.
“When I explain people say, ‘Oh my god, that’s horrible’, and believe it’s an allergic reaction.
“There’s not a lot doctors can do apart from giving my antihistamines, when I tried steroids it only made them worse when they came back.”
Shauna expresses her concerns for the future if she cannot gain access to stronger drugs including Xolair, which is a yearly injection that helps many urticaria sufferers.
She said: “I wake up worse every day, with my arms covered then my legs, the other day I had a really bad one on the hand.
“It’s affecting my friendships, I can’t go on nights out with this rash all over my arm and when I worked in retail it was horrible.
“I’m worried especially for my dad’s wedding and summer, when I won’t be able hide it because of it getting warmer.
“When I break out, I definitely won’t be able to wear a bikini.”