A woman has pleaded for people to be more understanding and compassionate after being involved in a screaming argument with another shopper in Sainsbury's over wearing face masks.

Alice Speller, from Bodmin, says she has complex post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a possible borderline personality disorder, and cannot wear a mask.

During a recent visit to a Cornish branch of Sainsbury's, Alice said she was harangued by another customer for not wearing a face covering, Cornwall Live reports.

After reacting angrily and swearing at the stranger, Alice has apologised for her response - but is asking others not to instantly judge those who may be exempt from wearing a mask.

She says the stranger never asked why she wasn't wearing one

Alice explained on social media that the thought of having to go shopping makes her anxious as she fears the judgement from others.

During her visit to Sainsbury's, she said she sneezed twice into the arm of her coat and when she went to pay she turned to find a stranger's face "inches from mine".

She said the stranger yelled: "If you can’t be bothered to wear a mask at least cover your mouth with a hanky when you sneeze."

When Alice tried to explain she had used her sleeve, she claims the shopper shouted in disagreement and warned her not to be so rude.

Alice wrote: "My fight mode kicked in, I shouted back, I felt a panic attack kicking in, I screamed at her to not judge when she doesn't know me, as she walked away her head held high, as people stopped and stared, as the tears started to run down my face, I hope whoever you are, that you are proud of your two minutes of shouting into a woman's face, not knowing her.

"Kind words would have gone much further, but instead you went into full attack.

She urged people to be more considerate that some may be exempt from wearing a mask

"Maybe Covid scares you, maybe you have been affected by it, but that still gives you no right to scream at another so close, but you obviously can't be too worried, as you were so close, the two metre rule didn't exist, your mask wasn't fully up either.

"I don't wear a mask for a reason, you don’t know my reason, so maybe think before you have a go. If you had walked over to me, and said kindly, I saw you sneeze and you didn't see you use a hanky, is everything OK, etc, we could have had a chat, but you didn't."

Alice said her husband has since spoken to the store to apologise for her outburst, but they were only concerned that she was OK.

Her husband Terry said the pair decided to share the experience to help others who may be suffering, and said if he sees someone not wearing a mask he automatically assumes there is a reason.

He said: "I don’t judge and I wouldn't want anyone judging my wife."

Terry added that Alice can only leave the house if she is accompanied by him or one of their four children, and the confrontation has made her more cautious about going out.

Alice wrote on social media to apologise for her outburst, saying she doesn't feel proud of what she did but "sometimes you simply cannot control a reaction to a situation".

She hoped the stranger would see the post and understand her explanation as to why she had not been wearing a mask.

A Sainsbury's spokesperson said: “We are asking everyone to continue playing their part in helping us to keep everyone safe in our stores.

"Posters are displayed inside and outside our stores and there are regular tannoy announcements asking customers to wear face coverings but also be considerate of those who may not be able to wear one."