Nairobi News

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My hidden skin agony, by Zain Verjee

International TV anchor Zain Verjee has told of the skin nightmare that meant she spurned the idea of a love life and wrapped herself in cookery clingfilm before every show.

Only now has the nightmare ended thanks to natural healing she learnt at a specialist clinic in South Africa.

Now Zain speaks out about her life before her recovery.

“I have fish-like scales,” revealed the TV star who was born and brought up in Nairobi.

“There are tiny red islands floating on the surface of my skin. They combine to create continents with jagged surfaces. They turn black and start to smell. There is blood and pus,”

Silver flakes 

And she went on: “My scalp spits out silver flakes. My ears are filled with crusts. I leave white specks wherever I sit. My hands betray me. The sores sit openly.”

Zain explained: “I suffer from psoriasis. It’s ravaged my body since I was eight. I feel like a leper.

Yet she continued: “My face is flawless. Compliments are endless. But I am acutely aware that a horror film unfolds in secret beneath my clothes. I am effervescent and radiant on the outside and rotting inside. Which is the real me?”

“Imagine the nightmarish teen years. I cower from close friendships. No one can know the truth. I never date. Intimacy is out of the question. I have no sensation of touch. The scales are too thick.”

And Zain tells of the days when she was a Kenyan superstar, on the TV screen in every home most days and nights — and the agonies she endured…..

“The itch is unbearable. I try and ignore it. It’s impossible. I use all my strength and I tear at my skin. I scratch back and forth until there is blood. It is too raw to do any more. I am filled with rage and humiliated.

“I’ve spent the afternoon on hair and makeup. As I settle into the anchor’s chair, I hear the faint rustle of plastic shrink wrap. I have wrapped up my legs and torso in the clingy film after soaking my scales in Vaseline so that the pain is lessened and the putrid smell contained.”

And then, an angel arrived.

A family friend approaches mum. “George,” she says. “Tell her to go to George.”

George is a small town in South Africa. Zain learns there is a clinic that specialises in treating severe skin disease.

“I am told to do mediation, deep relaxation and creative visualisation three times a day.

“I eat yogurt or bran for breakfast, salads or fish for lunch and chicken for dinner. Nothing tastes good. I yearn for Tabasco. I drink only herbal tea and torrents of water.

“I plant a tree. I bury my past. I have said everything I needed to say to my skin. The tree will give life, oxygen. Perhaps it will give me a chance to breathe again.

“It has been two weeks, and I see something no one else can see — a tiny shift. In the centre of one thick plaque, there is a slight thinning. I can discern this little dent only because I have been touching my skin. This small success galvanises me to stick rigidly to the tough diet. I am ecstatic, fully of new energy. My smile is real. I am positive.

“I return to Nairobi with a new mindset, a sense of control. Every 28 days, I see progress. The months pass. The smell stops. The centres of the lesions turn from red to pink to white.

“The continents on my body move apart with the seismic change in my mind. The scales no longer build. Then they are gone. I can’t believe it.

“It has been six months. I am clear. I am in remission. I have no scales. I am normal. I am finally free.

“After my transformation, my family takes me to Mombasa.

“I have a new bikini, dark blue with a yellow rim. It is so soft. It feels feminine. I have never felt like a woman the way I do when I put it on. I see all my curves in a different light. The mirror is not my enemy any longer.”

A version of this story was first published on