On Wednesday, June 2, 2004 we reported that...

CONFIDENCE can come from a tube of cream, a pallet and a brush.

It may sound simple, but a new clinic at the Vale of Leven Hospital could change the lives of people suffering from skin imperfections.

The skin camouflage clinic, run by the Red Cross, provides a special service to help people hide skin problems such as birth marks and scars.

The clinic, which runs once a month, is part of the dermatology department headed by consultant Dr David Dick.

He said the camouflage methods are not just for the face and a wide range of different problems can be tackled.

“Port wine birthmarks would be one of the major categories but there are all sorts of blemishes on skin,” he said.

“Blood vessels show up as red patches. Vitiligo, where there is a complete loss of pigment, is another reason for camouflage.

“It’s not just for the face,” he added.

“It can be used on the arms and legs, particularly for a woman’s legs, forearms and hands.

"Sometimes the basic cause of the problem can’t be treated so the person is left with a blemish to which the best thing is camouflage.”

“Also people who have had scars as a result of injuries such as burns can leave difficult scars — there is more of a problem covering scars which are uneven. "Because it is a new service we are still finding out what problems people have got in the area.”

The woman with the magic touch is Red Cross volunteer Joyce MacPherson.

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She has sessions with patients showing them what the wide range of creams and liquids can do to transform them.

Joyce, who is retired and does a lot of work for the Red Cross, has been on a training course to learn about the camouflage methods, and usually makes up half a patient’s face before teaching them to do it themselves.

They are then written a prescription for the right colour of product so they can use it at home.

The cream can last on the face for up to 10 days. Even more deliberate marks can be covered.

Joyce said: “Maybe someone has got a new partner and their tattoo says ‘I love Bobby’ and they are now going out with Tommy!

“Or maybe a young bride has something on her shoulder that needs covering.”

However, the clinic should not be taken lightly— it really can change people’s lives.

Joyce said: “I had one girl who wouldn’t go out at night, a teenager, and another who had worn trousers for 16 years.

“I used the cream on her legs and she went out that afternoon and bought a skirt.

“That was a tremendous buzz I got from that.”

Donna Brogan, Red Cross service manager for the area, said they are still building up patients.

“There is a recognised need for this service,” she said.

“Sometimes you cannot cure a skin problem so this merely conceals it. It can be used on men, women and children.

“It’s not make-up, it’s a different thing, a different formula.”

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