05 May 2013

Ichthyosis Awareness Month: Paula's story ~ "I wish my scaly skin was in the shape of hearts."

Paula Ryan has written this incredibly reflective piece for the Ichthyosis Awareness Month project. Paula is 31 and lives in San Diego, California with her husband Mike, dog Holly, and cat Ozzie. She has a master’s degree in Nutritional Sciences and is a Registered Dietitian. She aspires to be the leading expert in nutrition for skin health, most specifically for those suffering from ichthyosis. Show your support by following her blog or find her on Facebook. Paula has Lamellar Ichthyosis.

"My Peeling Hearts ~ A therapeutic portrayal of my life.

Present Day.

You are exactly where you are supposed to be, in this moment, right now. Our yoga teacher said to us. My racing mind immediately came to a screeching halt to digest this new and profound information.

I am. I am exactly where I am supposed to be, in this moment, right now. Skin and all! What a comforting thought. What a simple sentence to change the way I’ve thought about things all along.

Have I been exactly where I was supposed to be my entire life?

Rewind to elementary school.

I wish my scaly skin was in the shape of hearts, I thought to my 11-year-old-self, so they know I have feelings too.

Rewind to middle school.

Will a boy ever want to touch me? I thought to my 15-year-old-self, or kiss me? Or take me to the high school dance?

Rewind to high school.

Those kids yelling at me from the bleachers about my scaly legs, I thought to my 17 year-old self, why would they ever want to make another feel that way? This is so embarrassing.

Rewind to college.

Will anyone ever hire me? I thought to my 19 year-old-self, what will they feel when they shake my hand?

Present Day again.

Has my skin affected my life? Yes, of course. But here I am, exactly where I am supposed to be, in this moment, right now, writing to you to tell you that I am ok. My skin has taken me on quite a journey, the exact path I was supposed to take, with all the twists and turns, highs and lows, and it has dropped me off exactly where I am supposed to be. Right here. With my wonderful husband and amazing friends and family. With my exciting career. And you know what? Every once in a while I see a heart shaped scale and I smile. Without my skin, who knows where I’d be."

This post is part of the Ichthyosis Awareness Month project. For all posts in this project, click here.

For Ichthyosis and appearance diversity resources, click here.




  1. What type of Ichthyosis is this? :)

  2. Just finding out for you, Anonymous, and then I'll edit with the name and a link :) thank you for reading and being curious :)

  3. Now that one is a tear-jerker, Carly and Paula. Your questions and insecurities are the ones I want to shelter our little princesses from, Paula. But when I consider my wonderful "stun-in-law" and how my daughter fell head over heels in love w/ him, I know that, if it's meant to be, there'll be love in their lives. Thank you for baring your soul, Paula.

    1. Thanks Kitty - Paula's story is one of hope and I am so glad she shared it with us

  4. Now updated with the type of Ichthyosis :)

  5. What a positive & inspiring lass.

  6. That is so beautifully written.

  7. Wow, what a beautiful piece, Paula! A wonderful outlook, from all the harsh lessons you have endured!
    You are gorgeous!

  8. Paula, if you read this I want to say that you are very baeutiful and amazing young woman! Is it true that you are making some kind of research about diet effecting condition of skin with ichthyosis?

    Sorry my bad english!

    Sanna from Finland (27-year-old with epidermolytic ichthyosis)

    1. Hey Sanna! Thanks for your lovely comment! Information about Paula's dietician practice for people with Ichthyosis is on her website - healthiestregards.com :)
      Thanks for reading!

  9. Hi Friends! Thank you so much for your kind words. Yes Sanna, I am well on my way to being your nutrition expert for Ichthyosis. Stay tuned! :)


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