Bianca Lawrence: Living with Keloid Scars and Living My Best Life

“I’m from Bradford, England, and I’m an advocate for people with keloids. I got keloids when I was thirteen. When I was 12, I had severe acne. I had acne on my chest, my face, and my back. I treated it with taking Isotretinoin, but I was left with little hard spots. At 13, I started getting keloids, and right away, I started injections. I was so young, so unfortunately, it made them bigger. Keloids are trauma to the skin so if a dermatologist does an injection wrong or incorrectly, it makes it worse. The point of injection on my skin got infected, and the keloids began to stack up on one another so I tried to get them removed, but they grew back bigger.”

“It was very draining, but when I was 13, I didn’t know what anxiety and depression were. I used to always ask my mom constantly - “do I look okay?” I would always cover myself up. I hated people staring at me and pointing at me and saying “what’s that?” whilst pointing at my face. In the summer, I would wear high neck tops and jumpers, and I would be sweating, but I preferred sweating and feeling hot much more than actually showing my scars. I used to wear big, chunky necklaces, but the necklace would heat up under the summer sun and burn my skin. But I didn’t take it off, because I would rather get burned than show my scars. I used to wear weaves quite a lot just so I could hide my face. I used to wear scarves or walk past people and pretend that I was on the phone or sometimes I would just cover my face so people wouldn’t see.”

This picture is in black and white. Bianca holds her full hair up to reveal her beauty and keloid scars. Her face holds no trace of shame whatsoever, and she is making eye contact with us..

“It was very draining, and it took away a lot of my energy because I was constantly covering up myself. It got to the point where I didn’t want to leave my house because it was too draining. When you see your friends enjoying yourself, and getting invited everywhere, it’s tough. I would comfort eat, or I wouldn’t eat at all. My weight was fluctuating quite a lot. When I was going through that anxiety, I didn’t know what to do. I could talk to my mom about it, but I didn’t want to be going on about my issues even though they were affecting me. I’ve come so far from then to now though. I’ll wear my hair up, and I wear what I want to wear. I’ve been told to hurt myself, and I used to cry about those situations. But with people who would say something like that - there is obviously something wrong with them. It makes you realize how horrible people can be, and they need to stop because people are taking their lives from it, and it needs to stop.”

“In 2016, I even remember how I wasn’t looking after myself. I was always in bed. There used to a keloid behind my ear, and it was very painful so I just used to think about not wanting to be here. But I thought to myself - I cannot live like this. Why should I care about other people’s thoughts and feelings when they’re not me. Why can’t I live my life as a normal person? Then, I decided to post a picture of myself on Instagram showing my scars next to a picture where they were edited out, and I wrote my story. I turned my phone off, and I hid it because I thought that I was going to get terrible comments. I did it though because that was my only way of opening up. I didn’t know how to any other way, and the comments I got were so positive. I was so speechless.”

Bianca's hair is straightened here, and you can see that it's very long. There are four pictures of her in one. She is making different expressions in each. All of them are confident but show a different side of her.

“It just made me feel so free and normal. I had never felt like that. I had to push myself out of my own comfort zone to get there. But, I also feel like - why should I have to push myself out of my comfort zone in order to not feel rubbish about myself when I should feel fine about myself anyways? Now I have a keloid support group, and my life has completely changed. Going forwards, my main goal is to help people. In the UK, they’ve stopped training dermatologists on treating keloids, so I would like to start a charity to help people with keloids get resources.”