(INSIDE EDITION) - An Arizona mom kisses and cuddles her daughter in public to let strangers know that the 1-year-old, who suffers from a skin disease, is not contagious.
Ashley Nagy, 29, is combatting stares and cruel comments of strangers by showing affection to her daughter Charlie in public. Charlie was diagnosed with psoriasis at 4-months-old after small red dots that appeared all over her skin developed into large welts that would peel and flake off.
Nagy described to InsideEdition.com how they often get curious stares and rude, underhanded comments from people who are misinformed about the condition, or think Charlie is contagious.
“Strangers can be very cruel about it," Nagy said. "When we’ve taken her to the playground, the parents of other children have dragged their kids away thinking she’s contagious. 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.”
Nagy said she has overheard people asking why she would let her daughter get so sunburnt and that they can't believe she brought Charlie out of the house.
“If I’m pushing her around in a stroller and see people staring at her, looking at her in pity or trying to move their children away, I’ll lightly touch her face and kiss her on the cheek,” Nagy told Caters News. “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.”
Psoriasis affects more than 125 million people worldwide, with flare-ups brought on by stress, illness and food intolerances.
For Charlie, psoriasis flare-ups happen sporadically.
"She’ll be completely free and then in a matter of hours, her skin will be covered from head to toe,” Nagy said.
Nagy said she tries to treat the disease holistically as Charlie’s flare-ups have gotten less severe with time. She eats a gluten- and dairy-free diet, but her mom can always tell when an outbreak is coming on. She had her first at just 2 months old.
“They start off as wide, raised, red spots that then look like little whiteheads," Nagy said. "After that, they dry up to flake, crack and peel from her body,” Nagy said. “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.”
Doctors were shocked to see such a severe case at such a young age. Nagy refers to her daughter as her “unicorn baby” because she so “rare and special.”
Charlie’s parents hope to get people to realize that psoriasis is not something to fear and it doesn’t define their daughter.
Nagy has done as much as she can to learn more about the disease so she can advocate for her daughter.
“I want people to see that even though she has psoriasis they don’t need to be afraid to touch and love her," Nagy said. "I hope they see she’s not contagious and are more compassionate. She’s bubbly, funny, very sweet and at times she’s freaking hilarious.”
Nagy is also fundraising to help cover her Charlie’s medical bills, check-ups and treatment, as well as donating to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, which once treated her during a particularly severe flare-up.