Four injections a year – and our skin is clear
For the first time in more than 30 years, Kim Whittaker can go swimming and not be afraid of cutting remarks from passers-by. Her son, Gary, is also enjoying new-found confidence after 12 years of being the butt of many a joke.
They suffer from the disfiguring disease, psoriasis.
It is the agonising skin condition famously featured in BBC drama The Singing Detective.
But a breakthrough in treatment has now given hope to patients such as Kim and Gary.
Mrs Whittaker, 51, said: "I first got psoriasis when I was pregnant with Gary.
"It started off on my stomach, about the size of an orange and soon spread, so it was all over my back, arms, legs and head.
"It was sore, itchy and scaly. Every time you moved you left a trail of dead skin. It was embarrassing and just awful.
"I was given all different types of creams and even a tar treatment where you were supposed to plaster it on three times a week.
"I had phototherapy and some tablets but had to stop those because they were affecting my liver."
Mrs Whittaker, of Coalville, would enjoy brief respites from the condition but it would soon return.
In January, she and son Gary were given fresh hope with a new treatment involving four injections a year.
She said: "It is the first time in 31 years my skin has been clear.
"I can go swimming with my three grandchildren and in the summer, I don't have to pull on a cardigan for fear of people looking at my arms and making comments about my skin or staring at me.
"It really is like a miracle and you can do the injections yourself at home."
The treatment has also cleared Gary's psoriasis.
The 31-year-old started suffering from the condition when he was 18.
He said: "It started on my stomach and spread to my face, arms and scalp. My ears were also really badly affected.
"I was working in a warehouse and had to put up with a lot of comments like 'have you got scabies?' And on my first day at work someone said I must have Aids.
"As well as the comments I was really sore.
"The psoriasis felt like I had come off a motorbike and been dragged along the road it was so sore."
Like his mother, Gary was given creams and tablets and also had phototherapy, which involved exposing the skin to ultra-violet light on a regular basis under medical supervision.
Gary, from Whitwick, said: "Nothing did any good.
"Sometimes the treatments would work for a while but the psoriasis soon came back."
The father-of-two has now started the same treatment as his mother.
He said: "I am on my third injection. It feels really good. I can take my kids swimming and don't have to worry about comments and it's good to go out and meet people and not be worried."