By Charlotte Nisbet
A young woman who can draw on her skin now gets fake nails every month to help stop her from constantly scratching and doodling on her body.
The marketing manager, from St. Albans, Hertfordshire, was fed up of damaging her skin with her sharp nails and came up with the ingenious idea to buy herself some blunt acrylic nails.
After opting for the round-edged nails, Esme is now unable to cause any significant harm to her skin by itching it.
She is still able to draw on her skin but is no longer able to scratch and damage her skin thanks to her smooth fake nails.
Esme is now sharing her story to raise awareness for skin condition, urticaria and the symptoms it causes.
Esme said: “Before I had my fake nails I would scratch my skin until it bled, it was so sore and itchy.
“But now my nails are smooth and rounded, I can’t itch like I used to so I’m not damaging my skin every night.
“I can still draw shapes into my skin but they aren’t as sore afterwards as my nails aren’t able to intent my skin as much now they’re fake.
“My own nails were sharp and when I scratched my skin at night it would bleed, I always had scabs.
“I decided to try out getting fake nails and opted for rounded edges, I couldn’t imagine life without them now, even though it is an expensive habit.
Esme was diagnosed with urticaria when she was 20 years old after noticing itchy hives across her body.
She added: “I lived for years without knowing what it was and being consistently in pain and covered in scabs.
“I thought it was my washing powder at first and I completely changed my diet to gluten and dairy free but nothing helped.
“Being allergic to touch, as it is easiest to explain, often means people ask personal questions such as, can I still hug you? Does it hurt to high-five you? The answer to all these is yes, I can do everything normally, it just means I might have a hive or swollen, red skin at the time.”
“My fake nails have helped stop the scabs but there is no cure, you can grow out of it but I have accepted it is part of who I am.
“I won’t stop living my life because I have sensitive skin and I hope my story shows others that you can still lead a normal life after diagnosis, it just helps if you don’t scratch and irrate your skin further.”
Esme has shared her skin with the British Skin Foundation to help support others who have the same diagnosis.
Dr Anton Alexandroff, Consultant Dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, said: “Urticaria is a common skin condition that is characterised by very itchy hives, which can affect any pat of the body and face.
“Very often patients experience dermographism – ‘writing on skin’ – if the patient scratches themselves, they come up in a hive.
“The patient’s quality of life can be affected significantly due to the fact urticarial is very unsightly and itchy. The patient may feel very embarrassed by the appearance and may not be able to sleep because of itch.
“Many patients respond to antihistamines and there are other medications available which can be tried including a novel and very potent injection called biologic (omaluzumab) which is now available on the NHS.”