Kelly Marsh, a 33-year-old mum from Canvey, Essex, has been left unable to work due to a series of severe allergic reactions, which cause burning and itching all over her body.
The first allergic reaction, which occurred seven months ago, caused her lips, eyes and face to double in size.
She has since been diagnosed with chronic spontaneous urticaria, a debilitating condition which causes her to react to any number of allergens.
Marsh, a make-up artist business manager, said: “The first time it happened, I had a couple of blotches on my arms and legs but didn’t think anything of it, the next day I woke up unable to recognise myself.
“Suddenly my lips, my eyes and whole face had swollen up, I sent a picture to my manager to explain why I couldn’t come into work and she asked, ‘Who is that?’
“My lips were huge, I looked like I had dodgy lip fillers, it didn’t look like me at all.”
She has experimented with restricting her diet to just rice, vegetables and plain chicken, and avoiding certain toiletries, but has not yet managed to beat her condition.
“I don’t even know myself what causes it, but it’s affecting everything, it’s like I’m a prisoner in my own skin.
“I literally can’t find anything, I changed the washing powder to Fairy Non Bio, went on a diet of bland food but what causes a reaction one day isn’t the same the next.
“It’s hard to explain without bursting into tears, you just sit here itching and burning, unable to go anywhere, to eat or even sleep – I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
Marsh, who is mother to a 10-year-old son, has so far suffered two bouts of the severe allergic reactions.
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The second, on Boxing Day last year, left her hospitalised, and she had to take steroids and go on an IV of antihistamines to recover.
They begin with small blotches on her skin, but soon escalate into an extreme reaction including burning pain, itchy welts and a swollen face.
She says: “I was in a raw state every day from itching, with my skin completely raw, nothing helped other than taking a freezing cold bath.
“I tried everything I could from not washing my hair with shampoos, avoiding perfumes, scents and altering my diets.
“I’m worried I’ll run out of sick pay soon and am about not being able to afford our mortgage.
“I knew others had to be suffering out there too and it shocked me how many there were.
“Some people have had it for 25 years, I don’t want to deal with it for that long.”