County Durham teen's daily battle with world of harmless products that could set off terrible reaction

Brianie Copeland spent most of her days in bandages as a long list of allergies and conditions caused her skin to painfully blister and her chest to tighten

Childcare student Brianie Copeland
Childcare student Brianie Copeland

Teenager Brianie Copeland has severe reactions to harmless things such as hair products and dust.

From a young age Brianie spent most of her days in bandages as a long list of allergies and conditions caused her skin to painfully blister and her chest to tighten.

When she was four years old, she was largely a prisoner in her own home where her family could help control what she came into contact with. Over the years Brianie and her mum Pamela, 40, have together learnt how to try and manage her extreme eczema, dermatitis and asthma along with multiple food and skin allergies.

But despite the slightest thing causing her crippling condition to flare up, the 17-year-old hasn’t let her illness hold her back, leaving school with a clutch of GCSEs to go on and study childcare at college in the hope of working with children with special needs.

She said: “I’m taking tablets and creams and it is still ongoing but I’m used to it and know what to try and stay clear of. I’m not allowed make up, no tattoos, no piercings, no hair dye. I get reactions to lots of foods, pets, dust, everything really.”

Unable to eat any milk, soya, nuts, egg, oats or wheat products Brianie is constantly having monitor what she eats and the products she uses as she is also allergic to man-made fibres and dust.

As the years go by Brianie, who lives with sisters Ashleigh and Alarnia and brothers Brian, Mikey and Bobby together with Pamela and her husband Michael Donnelly in Bearpark, County Durham, is starting to find she is unable to do the things other 17-years-old do because of her illness, for which there is no cure.

Pamela said: “We have managed together to deal with her illness in the home and tried our best to keep it under control. I read the labels on everything, all of the packets as Brianie is allergic to so much.

“But as she is getting older we are finding her allergies are changing. A food she eats one day she will then have a reaction to the next time she eats it. It is constant.

“We are always having to use different creams and lotions but change them after a couple of weeks as her body gets used to them.

“Brianie’s condition is awful. She tries her best to deal with it but it is a daily battle. It is a horrendous thing for her to live with and my heart breaks each day.

“As she is growing up she is realising there are more things she has to be careful of and more things she can’t do that her friends can. She can’t wear make up, hair products. She constantly has to watch what she eats and what she comes into contact with.

“People don’t seem to realise how severe it is.”

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