How This Confident Teen With a Rare Skin Condition Moved Past Her Bullies
Ciera Swaringen was bullied as a child for the birthmarks that cover her entire body. When she was born, Swaringen was diagnosed with a rare disease called giant congenital melanocytic nevus, which affects one in 500,000 people, according to Nevus Outreach, the Association for Large Nevi & Related Disorders.
The birthmarks cover more than two-thirds of her body, and the largest one spans from her navel to her lower thighs, according to The Daily Mail.
Swaringen grew up in a small town in North Carolina, so most people there are familiar with her birthmarks. Going somewhere new is often challenging, but she keeps in mind what her mom told her as a child. “I remember when I started school my mom told me that my birthmarks were angel kisses, and that really stuck with me,” Swaringen told The Daily Mail.
Swaringen has to be careful in the sun, as people with her condition are at a high risk for skin cancer. Melanoma and other skin cancer affects about 5 percent of people with larger nevi (birthmarks or moles), according to Nevus Outreach.
Due to the number of birthmarks, removing them is not an option. They grow constantly, and Swaringen often develops new ones.
While the 19-year-old has been bullied for her skin condition, she’s embraced her beauty.
“I’m so proud to be different and, at the end of the day, we all have something about us that’s unusual, whether it’s on the inside or the outside,” Swaringen told The Daily Mail. “Everyone is born to look different, and we should all feel beautiful in our own skin.”