A British teenager who suffered third-degree burns on her face and body after lice shampoo on her head caught fire is now a TikTok sensation with over 800,000 followers.
Six years ago, Aleema Ali, 18, from Bradford, England, was involved in a freak accident that left her in a coma for two months.
Despite suffering from serious third-degree burns, Aleema, a full-time university student, made it her mission to fight back and inspire others to embrace their differences.
The burns survivor is now a makeup influencer with a huge following of dedicated fans and over 20.4 million likes across her videos.
“I am extremely proud of who I am and it has taken me a long time to get to where I am today,” Aleema told NeedToKnow.online.
“It is so important for me to share my videos because I struggled to find someone who understood what it was like for me, to look different, to have burns, to constantly be stared at.
“So, if I can help just one person with my videos and my social media presence, I would be very happy.
“TikTok is a huge part of my life, it has opened so many doors for me and it has helped with my mental health.
“My confidence is at an all-time high – inspiring and helping other people makes me very happy.”
Aleema’s freak accident happened back in December 2016 when she was just 12 years old.
The youngster had just returned home from boarding school and while away, had caught head lice.
Once at home, she decided to apply “Full Marks Solution”, a medicated shampoo, with the hopes of killing the insects.
After applying the solution, Aleema walked into the kitchen to throw away the empty bottle while her mum was cooking, not realising the product on her head was highly flammable.
Aleema’s hair suddenly caught fire and her entire head was engulfed in flames – she was immediately taken to the hospital and arrived around 10 minutes after the incident.
The teenager was then rushed to the hospital’s intensive care unit and placed in a coma for two months.
Describing the terrifying accident, Aleema said: “I panicked and went to a state of shock and the only thing I could think was, ‘I’m going to die.’
“I was in a coma for two months so there was no immediate reaction.
“They slowly built up the amount of time I was awake.”
Aleema suffered third-degree burns on 55% of her body including her face, head, arms, chest, thighs, stomach, back and hands.
She also lost seven fingers and is currently only able to move two of her fingers.
Aleema endured a long and painful recovery process over the years, with skin graft surgeries, specialised garments and medication to help her adapt to normal day living after her accident.
The now 18-year-old has also had micro-needling to help with pigmentation and soften scarring.
Six years on from the incident, Aleema says she’s never been “happier”.
The teen had recently finished her A-levels and went to Leeds Beckett university in September to study mental health and counselling.
Alongside her studies, the influencer posts regular makeup routines on TikTok, gaining thousands of likes for each post.
She said: “My TikTok has grown rapidly over the past two years.
“I didn’t expect to gain as many views as I did and it certainly wasn’t something I was considering doing long-term.
“My perspective on life has changed entirely.
“I’m much happier and healthier now.
“Life is short and unpredictable, so we should do the things that make us happy and surround ourselves with good people.”
Back in 2020, Aleema set up a GoFundMe page to try and raise some money for skin graft surgery on her nose and lips.
Although she managed to raise a huge £24,314 for her surgery, after having a consultation, she was informed by her surgeon that they would not be able to operate on her burns.
Aleema hopes she will be able to find someone in the UK who can perform the skin graft surgery.
However, even with all the challenges, Aleema is grateful for the circumstances and said the accident has made her love herself from within and made her into a more confident person.
She added: “In a way, I am now glad this happened.
“It’s made me into a better person.
“My self-love and confidence have risen rapidly.
“It’s changed my life for the better. I’m much stronger, braver and confident than I was before.”