By Josh Saunders
A mum is showing strangers not to fear her daughter who ‘looks like she has a contagious disease’ by kissing and cuddling her in public.
Ashley Nagy, 29, from Queen Creek in Arizona, USA, is combatting the stares and cruel comments of strangers by showing affection to 19-months-old Charlie in public.
The little girl was diagnosed with psoriasis at four-months-old after the small red dots that appeared all over her skin, developed into large welts that would peel and flake-off.
The disease that affects more than 125 million people worldwide appears in flares and is often brought on by stress, illness and food intolerances.
Parents Ashley and Andrew, 32, have been accused by strangers of letting their daughter get ‘severely sunburnt’ and others drag their children away fearing she is ‘contagious’.
To combat this, the mum-of-two smothers Charlie in kisses whenever anyone stares or reacts unusually to her in a bid to raise positive awareness of the disease.
Ashley, a real estate agent, said: “Psoriasis flare-ups happen sporadically, she’ll be completely free and then in a matter of hours her skin will be covered from head to toe.
“They start off as wide, raised, red spots that then look like little whiteheads, after that they dry up to flake, crack and peel from her body.
“Strangers can be very cruel about it, when we’ve taken her to the playground the parents of other children have dragged their kids away thinking she’s contagious.
“Most people move away, afraid they are going to catch whatever she has or move their kids away so she can’t get to close or play with them.
“My response is normally to pick Charlie up and kiss her so that people can see she is not contagious and being near her isn’t going to hurt anyone.
“A few people have made comments, some ladies said that I was a bad parent and couldn’t believe I let her get so sunburned.
“Others have said they can’t believe we have her out in public, but these are just very ignorant people so we ignore them.
“If I’m pushing her around in a stroller and see people staring at her, looking at her in pity or trying to move their children away I’ll lightly touch her face and kiss her on the cheek.
“I want people to see that even though she has psoriasis they don’t need to be afraid to touch and love her, I hope they see she’s not contagious and are more compassionate.
“I don’t put her in turtlenecks or hide her, I have her in shorts and am not ashamed of who she is and walk with pride, I know she’s beautiful.
“While she has psoriasis, it doesn’t define her because she has such a great personality – she’s bubbly, funny, very sweet and at times she’s freaking hilarious.”
Charlie was two-months old when she had her first psoriasis flare-up, it started off as small reddish bumps that develop into larger patches.
Doctors believe she is one of the youngest patients to have such a severe case.
Ashley said: “The rash on her stomach looked like tiny little dots and despite getting antibiotics and more it didn’t seem to clear, only getting worse.
“We were told she was one of the youngest patients with psoriasis that the dermatologist had ever seen.
“Flare-ups can be caused by food, stress, skin trauma to many different things, even teething and toothache has caused her whole body to flare-up.”
Due to the rarity of little Charlie having such an extreme form of psoriasis at such a young age, her parents nickname her their ‘unicorn baby’.
They hope their cute phrasing will help to rebrand the disease and show to others that it’s not something to fear.
Ashley said: “While we were in hospital, doctors, volunteers and nurses kept running in and out to observe her, because it was so rare to have psoriasis at her age.
“I decided to name her my ‘unicorn baby’ and referred to the skin problems as ‘unicorn spots’ because she’s so rare and special.
“I chose to compare it to a unicorn as I thought it was something positive and less intimidating, as she gets older I’m sure it will help her see that her skin is beautiful.”
Her parents combat the itchy and painful flare-ups that cover her head to toe with a specialist two-hour bathing routine.
In addition to putting her on a gluten and dairy-free diet, with a daily cod liver oil and aloe smoothie, which has stopped her from needing oral medication.
Ashley said: “Our nightly routine is bathing her in essential oils, occasionally we use bleach or oatmeal, then a specialist psoriasis shampoo.
“Then we lotion her right away so her skin doesn’t crack with organic butter bees wax, that has essential oils and other ingredients.
“From there, we put her in an oversized cotton t-shirt so that the ingredients can soak into her skin and prevent flare-ups from friction that can be caused when her clothing is too tight.”
The parents are now trying to raise awareness of their daughter’s condition by educating others and dispelling the myth that psoriasis is a ‘contagious disease’.
Ashley said: “I had to become as expert as possible on this disease, my daughter’s my world and I won’t shut down or give people attitude, I just want to educate them.
“I take it upon myself to fight for her until she can speak for herself, I’ve learned as much as I can about the disease and even created an awareness raising page.”
Ashley is fundraising to help cover her Charlie’s medical bills, check-ups and treatment, as well as donating to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital who treated her during a bad flare-up.
She said: “Doctors told us they have treated babies with psoriasis but never this bad or for someone so young.
“It was really hard to get our insurance to cover her full medical bills as they have not experienced such a young case before and so have no other cases to compare her to.”
You can donate at: www.gofundme.com/help-charlie-fight-infant-psoriasis