A nurse has been compared to a zombie by strangers because of a rare skin condition, caused by her period, that makes her skin blister all over her body before peeling off.
Regional nurse, Q’Londa Harden, 26, from Alaska, suffers from a rare disorder, called Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which leaves her in unbearable pain.
The condition causes the body’s immune system to overreact to a mild infection, taking a new medication or in Q’Londa’s case, simply getting her period.
Q’Londa Harden, 26, from Alaska, has been called a zombie by strangers due to her rare skin condition which causes painful blisters all over her body, which then burst and cause her skin to peel off. Pictured during a flare up, with skin around her eyes and mouth peeling off
Her condition, causes the body’s immune system to overreact to a mild infection, taking a new medication or in Q’Londa’s case, simply being on her period. Q’Londa pictured in hospital due to her condition
The regional nurse was diagnosed with the disorder by an allergist and specialist when she was 16 years old and since then her flare ups have become worse
Q’Londa’s natural hormone surge at the start of her period, leads to blisters forming from head to toe all over her body.
These blisters then eventually burst causing her skin all over her body to turn black and peel off.
For Q’Londa, the pain is unbearable and something she ‘wouldn’t wish on her worst enemy.’
The 26-year-old was diagnosed with the disorder when she was just 16 by an allergist and specialist.
What is Stevens-Johnson syndrome?
Stevens-Johnson is caused by an ‘over-reaction’ of the immune system which is triggered by a mild infection or a medicine.
The rare condition leads to peeling and blistering of the skin – commonly around the eyes, mouth and throat.
The most common triggers are common infections such as herpes and flu.
Statistics show the syndrome is more common in white people and affects more women than men.
Typically, the symptoms are relieved by good breathing and hydration levels but in severe cases time in intensive care may be needed.
Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children
Since then, her body’s reaction to flare-ups has only got worse and although Q’Londa is on the birth control pill to manage her hormone levels, this hasn’t always prevented her from developing symptoms.
A flare up in June 2020 caused by a sharp increase in hormone levels during her period left her with no skin on her vaginal and anal regions, and it was the first time that her breasts, neck, thighs and legs were affected.
Q’Londa was hospitalized for four days, where she received pain medication, IV fluids and care from nurses who tended to her blistered raw skin.
The condition has not only affected Q’Londa physically, but also mentally and she frequently questions why she has been chosen to go through this.
Whilst currently in a happy relationship with boyfriend Ashton, 28, Q’Londa admits that her condition has freaked out previous boyfriends.
People stare at Q’Londa whenever she’s out in public after a flare up and comment, ‘what is wrong with her skin?’ – with one stranger telling her nobody would ever love her because of how she looks.
‘This has been the most painful and embarrassing experience ever. It’s getting worse every time I have a reaction,’ Q’Londa said.
‘I’m stuck in a cycle of trying to avoid my triggers to keep my skin on my body. It has been a few years since I’ve had a really bad reaction, but the latest one has been really hard on me.’
She said she can tell when a reaction is happening because it feels like someone ‘has set my body on fire’.
‘There is a constant feeling of burning and stretching,’ she said.
‘My eyes, lips, ears and vagina swell up. My body becomes covered in blisters, the blisters pop, my skin then peels off.
‘People tell me that God made me this way which is absolutely true, but no one likes to walk in public and look like this. Let’s be real.’
The 26 year old said the pain is unbearable and something she ‘wouldn’t wish on her worst enemy’. Pictured in hospital in June, recovering from a severe flare up
In a bid to combat the severity of her condition, Q’Londa is on the birth control pill to manage her hormone levels but she still gets the symptoms
There is no cure for the condition and sadly, there is very little Q’Londa can do about her reactions because they are triggered by her hormones.
‘I’m a woman and we all have hormones in our bodies. I just want to tell people; when you see someone who looks like me, you clearly don’t know what they’re going through.
‘It’s already hard enough for me to get dressed and walk out of the door to the grocery store without people staring at me like I’m a zombie.
In June 2020, her period led to a sharp increase in hormone levels and her flare up was so severe she was left with no skin on her vaginal and anal regions. Pictured graduating as a regional nurse with her fellow students
Due to the horrific flare up, Q’Londa was hospitalized for four days, placed on pain medication and IV fluids while nurses tended to her blisters
Whilst currently in a happy relationship with boyfriend Ashton, 28, Q’Londa admits that her condition has freaked out previous boyfriends. Pictured giving a thumbs up from her hospital bed
‘People have said “What’s wrong with her?”, “Eww, why are you covered in scars?” and “No one is going to love you looking like this”.
‘At first the comments hurt and made me sad and embarrassed. But I have to realise there is nothing I can do about it and you don’t know these people, so who cares. You probably won’t see them again anyway.
‘I already know I look crazy. I wake up every day and see myself in the mirror, so I don’t need the added comments I receive.
‘I need people to have more empathy and respect for other people like me.’
Q’Londa’s condition was diagnosed when she was 16 years old and still deals with the effects ten years down the line. The nurse pictured as a child before her ordeal began
Because her condition is caused by hormones released during her period, sometimes Q’Londa’s skin can look perfectly normal compared to when it is scarred and bleeding
The condition has not only affected Q’Londa physically, but also mentally and she frequently questions why she has been chosen to go through this
Although stuck in a cycle of trying to avoid flare ups and doing her best to recover quickly when they do happen, Q’Londa has tried to remain positive.
As for the future, the treatment options are limited. However, giving Q’Londa low doses of chemotherapy has been suggested as a potential option and she is willing to try this.
This would work putting her in early menopause, keeping her from having a period and would theoretically keep her from having future reactions to her hormones.
‘Me sitting feeling sad and depressed about this isn’t going to make it go away so I choose to try and find the silver linings in this situation,’ Q’Londa said.
‘I crack jokes and my siblings pick on me because you’ve got to make the best out of a bad situation.’
She said they joke about her being ‘part zombie’ and the skin re-healing on her face is ‘nature’s way of giving me a free face lift’.
‘For it to be ten years later and nothing has changed is hard. They’re throwing the idea around of freezing my eggs and putting me on low dose chemotherapy to put me in menopause.
While now in a happy relationship with boyfriend Ashton, 28, Q’Londa – pictured enjoying some free time at the fair – admits that her condition has freaked out previous boyfriend
The 26-year-old nurse says people have said ‘what’s wrong with her’, ‘Eww, why are you covered in scars?’ and ‘No one is going to love you looking like this’ when she has walked by
Q’Londa describes the pain of her flare ups as like ‘someone has set me on fire’ but sadly, because her condition is triggered by her hormones, there is very little she can do to treat it
‘This would shut my body down and keep me from having a period and would keep me from having future reactions.
‘I’m excited to see a doctor who deals with my condition. I’m excited what steps we will take next.
‘At this point I’m open to any and every suggestion because I would not wish this upon my worst enemy.
‘The positive comments I receive make me feel happy and loved. They make me feel like I’m just like everyone else.’
Source: Daily Mail