In the eyes of her mom, one baby girl was simply beautiful. Because of a skin condition, however, people would often stare at the infant in the street. As a result, her protective mother came up with a clever idea to show them that they had nothing to fear from her child.
Ashley Nagy lived with her husband Andrew and son Gavin in Queen Creek, Arizona. In 2016 the young family were joined by a daughter named Charlie. And, like many mothers, Ashley enjoyed nothing more than snuggling up to her new baby.
When Charlie was just two months old, however, her mom discovered some discoloring on the baby’s torso. “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,” Ashley subsequently told the Daily Mail.
Doctors soon diagnosed the rash as psoriasis, but were shocked to see the condition in someone as young as Charlie. “We were told she was one of the youngest patients with psoriasis that the dermatologist had ever seen,” Ashley explained.
Psoriasis affects over 125 million people across the globe. Doctors believe that a problem in the immune system is responsible for the illness. While its severity differs from case to case, the condition always causes flaky, red areas of skin that can lead to irritation.
The ailment is often congenital, but factors such as food intolerances, stress and skin injuries can act as triggers for the condition. Unfortunately, there is no cure, although sufferers can treat their symptoms.
For Ashley, it was difficult knowing that Charlie would have to deal with psoriasis for the rest of her life. Seeing the severe irritation that the condition had caused her child was hard for the mom. And to make matters worse, there wasn’t much that she could do to comfort her little girl.
During one of her worst flare-ups, Charlie even had to spend three days in Phoenix Children’s Hospital. It was an experience that broke Ashley’s heart. “She wouldn’t want to be held, she wouldn’t want to be touched,” Ashley told ABC15 Arizona. “She wouldn’t want the water to touch her. It was just hell. It was miserable.”
Nonetheless, as the months passed by Charlie’s family learned to manage her psoriasis. Each night they would bathe her for two whole hours to keep her symptoms at bay. It was a lengthy process but, along with cutting dairy and gluten out of Charlie’s diet, it helped to improve the condition of her skin significantly.
“Our nightly routine is bathing her in essential oils. Occasionally we use bleach or oatmeal, then a specialist psoriasis shampoo,” Ashley explained to the Daily Mail. “Then we lotion her right away, so her skin doesn’t crack, with organic butter beeswax that has essential oils and other ingredients.”
And soon Charlie’s home life was back to normal. But when the infant was out in public, her mom felt conscious that people treated her differently. “They look at her and then they look away. They try not to really stare,” Ashley told ABC15 Arizona.
By the sounds of things, however, this kind of response was polite compared to others. According to Ashley, one stranger called her a “bad parent” for apparently letting her child get sunburnt. Others, she said, had even questioned why she would bring Charlie out in public at all.
“Strangers can be very cruel about it,” Ashley explained during her interview with the Daily Mail. “When we’ve taken her to the playground, the parents of other children have dragged their kids away thinking she’s contagious.”
Understandably, such reactions to her daughter were devastating for Ashley. So, she came up with an ingenious idea to show people that Charlie was not a danger to anyone. And the beauty of the plan lay in its simplicity.
Every time someone acted like they were afraid of Charlie, Ashley would pick her up and hold her close. “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,” she revealed.
This happened so regularly, in fact, that Charlie soon found herself on a mission to educate the public about psoriasis. It’s a path that she never thought she’d find herself on. But, due to her daughter, it’s now one that’s very close to her heart.
“I’m trying to take this as an opportunity to learn and to grow from, rather than to feel sorry for myself,” Ashley explained in her candid chat with ABC15 Arizona. “I don’t think that’s a right way to deal with anything.”
So, alongside her regular public displays of affection towards Charlie, Ashley also started an Instagram account called Psoriasis Sunshine. And on the page, she documents her daughter’s battle with the skin condition and raises awareness of what living with the ailment actually entails.
But although Ashley is happy for Charlie to become an advocate for others with psoriasis, she hopes that the skin condition doesn’t define her. “I want people to see that even though she has psoriasis, they don’t need to be afraid to touch and love her,” she explained to the Daily Mail. “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,” Ashley added. “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.”