Some 7.5 million Americans suffer from psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder that develops when the immune system kicks into overdrive, causing skin cells to grow too quickly. These cells accumulate on the skin, causing scaly, red patches. Psoriasis can range from relatively mild (affecting up to 2% of the body) to very severe (covering 10% to 80% or more of the body). Fortunately, medication and lifestyle can control even the most serious cases. Many celebrities have experienced the condition, and these 19 have spoken out about their struggles and experiences.
When the TV host and style personality found out about her psoriasis diagnosis, “it knocked the confidence out of me for a long time and made me feel very frustrated,” she tells People.
Even today, with more of a handle on what can trigger her flare-ups, she still has to “remind myself religiously that this will pass and try to maintain a bigger perspective on it all.” With that in mind, she worked with psoriasis-control medication Otezla on a site that shares her insight with other psorasis suffers.
The reality TV star revealed she had psoriasis on a 2011 episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Kardashian was 30 at the time, the same age as her mother, Kris Jenner, when she was diagnosed with the condition. Psoriasis most often appears between the ages of 15 and 35 and does have a strong genetic component. Kardashian deals with the disease much as she does the rest of her life: publicly. “I’m using Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs spray and it is my lifesaver at the moment!” she once posted on her website. “I love this stuff! It really covers up my psoriasis so well!”
Before becoming America’s Next Top Model in 2006, CariDee English fought a long battle with psoriasis. Diagnosed at age five, she found all kinds of ways to hide the condition, which at one point covered 70% of her body. She wore long sleeves in the middle of summer, got doctor’s notes to excuse her from gym and, when starting her modeling career, hid her lesions under thick makeup. Thanks to medication, English’s skin is now clear, but she once did before-and-after pics of her psoriasis, hoping that people with psoriasis would “gain some motivation from this.”
The man who, with Paul Simon, brought us the 60s classics “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Feelin’ Groovy” also has psoriasis. Once while on a concert tour of Israel, Garfunkel soaked in the Dead Sea hoping to find relief from his symptoms. “I’ve been told that if you float in that salty, buoyant water, it’s very good for the skin,” he said on his website. “I found it not so much therapeutic as beautiful.”
Swimmer Dara Torres has won 12 medals in five different Olympic Games. She also has psoriasis. Torres has found that the chlorine in pools actually helps her condition, though others with psoriasis find pool chemicals to be irritating. Part of her mission is to make sure others with the condition aren’t kept out of the pool either because they’re self-conscious or because people think it’s catching. “Psoriasis isn’t contagious and it isn’t just cosmetic,” she says in a public service announcement. “It’s a serious disease.”
Comedian and former Saturday Night Live-er Jon Lovitz first thought it was a rash, only to be told he actually had plaque psoriasis. The lesions eventually covered 75% of his body and he went so far as to put makeup on his elbows to hide the condition. Lovitz now has his psoriasis under control after trying—and failing—many different medications. “Don’t be embarrassed,” he said in an interview with the National Psoriasis Foundation. “See a dermatologist. A lot of people with psoriasis give up, but don’t. Find out what works best for you.”
The two-time Grammy winner was diagnosed with psoriasis when she was just two years old. By the time she was six, it covered 80% of her body. Stigmatized as “scaly girl” when she was a child and afraid to wear short dresses on the Red Carpet even as an adult, Rimes’ psoriasis is now clear, thanks to medication and careful lifestyle choices such as healthy eating. Doing a magazine shoot in a bikini was “one of the highlights of my life,” Rimes told Health.
Stacy London’s psoriasis was so bad as a child that she had to trim her hair into a crew cut and wear turtlenecks and long pants in the heat of summer. She felt like a “monster,” the stylist on What Not to Wear once confided. So she turned to fashion and its pretty adornments to boost her self-esteem. “I do think that there is a lot about what I’ve been through that has sort of merged certainly with my ambition career-wise to create a new kind of style that is based in self-esteem,” she says on her site, Uncover Your Confidence.
A lifelong battle with psoriasis inspired some of novelist John Updike’s fiction. In fact, readers can partly credit the condition for making him a writer in the first place. “Because of my skin, I counted myself out of any of those jobs—salesman, teacher, financier, movie star—that demand being presentable,” he once wrote. “What did that leave? Becoming a craftsman of some kind, closeted and unseen—perhaps a cartoonist or a writer, a worker in ink who can hide himself and send out as surrogate presence, a signature that multiplies even while it conceals.”
Miss California 2013 was diagnosed with psoriasis when she was 16 and already in the awkward teen years. The condition caused her fingernails to break off and her scalp, she said once, “was crazy flaking.” Teased and bullied in school, she entered her first beauty contest at age 18 to gain self-confidence. Now she’s made it part of her mandate to raise awareness about the disease. Psoriasis has “made me a stronger and better person, independent, focused and hard working. This is who I am,”she told the National Psoriasis Foundation.
About 30% of people who have psoriasis go on to develop psoriatic arthritis and pro golfer Phil Michelson is one of them. He developed painful joint inflammation eight years after he was diagnosed with the skin condition. Michelson controls the arthritis largely with biologic drugs (you’ve probably seen the commercials). He told USA Today that as a result of early treatment, he has regained 20% of the strength he lost the year he was diagnosed.
Director Eli Roth reportedly got the inspiration for his blockbuster horror film Cabin Fever after contracting flesh-eating disease (a bacterial infection unrelated to psoriasis) and because he has suffered for years from psoriasis. One outbreak was so severe he could not walk or wear clothes. When not directing horror films (others include Hostel and Hostel: Part II), he acts, having played opposite Brad Pitt as Sergeant Donny Donowitz in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.
In addition to portraying “Beaver” on the all-American sitcom Leave It to Beaver, Mathers struggled with psoriasis as a child. Although his case is relatively mild, staying for the most part on his heels and buttocks, “it has been a source of embarrassment,” he told USA Today in 2012. Of the newer biologic drugs, he commented, “This new class of drugs is pretty exciting…For me, it means I might not ever again feel the urge to scratch that itch. And that means I might be able to finally breathe a long sigh of relief.”
Liam Gallagher, singer of the British rock band Oasis, spoke about his experience with psoriasis in a 2011 interview with Q magazine. He said the condition resulted in “bad skin” and that he deals with rashes all over his body with the exception of his face. Gallagher said the skin condition caused him to have bouts of bad dandruff, so much so that one of his fans mistook it for illicit drugs stuck in his hair. Scalp psoriasis symptoms like flaky skin, itching, and soreness can be alleviated using antifungal topical treatments and medicated shampoos.
During a red carpet appearance to promote her movie Suicide Squad, model-meets-actress Delevingne was photographed with red, itchy-looking sores down her back and arms—signs of a psoriasis flare up. The model has spoken in the past about her experience with stress-related psoriasis, which she says she discovered in 2013 during hectic, back-to-back modeling jobs at Paris Fashion Week.
In recent years, the pop star has been vocal about living with psoriasis and has even teamed up with the National Psoriasis Foundation campaign I’m PsO Ready to speak about issues relating to the condition. Lauper first noticed symptoms (a scalp flare up) while on tour and the condition soon spread to other areas of her body. She tried alternative treatments like coffee enemas before settling on a regimented immune treatment that has her back to normal levels of physical activity. “It’s important to know that you’re not alone,” she told the American Academy of Dermatology in a post on their website about how she copes with the disease.
Keeping Up With the Kardashians matriarch Kris Jenner was diagnosed with the skin condition at age 30. Although not much is known about the exact triggers of the disease, it’s clear that Jenner passed the genetic condition onto her daughter, Kim Kardashian, who was also diagnosed at 30 years old. Kardashian says her mother never showed extreme signs of psoriasis like a red rash or flaky skin, so she didn’t realize how debilitating the disease could be until she got it herself. Like symptoms, triggers and treatments for the disease vary from person to person, the National Psoriasis Foundation says. Topical products, injections, and therapies are just a few solutions for dealing with the skin condition.
Author, actress, and TV personality La La Anthony–who also happens to be a pal of fellow psoriasis sufferer, Kim Kardashian–told PEOPLE in 2015 that she lived with psoriasis for nearly a decade before finding out there was a name for her symptoms. “About 10 years ago is when I first noticed it, and I didn’t know what it was,” she said. “I had it really bad in my scalp and behind my ears, but my scalp is where I suffer from it the worst.” She partnered with the National Psoriasis Foundation to encourage others not to let the autoimmune condition hold them back. “It’s something that we have; it doesn’t make us any less human, or weird or freaky. It’s about being open with what we have and being open with other people who are suffering from the same thing,” she told PEOPLE.
At age 28, the actress had just gotten engaged and been signed for a role in the series Scandal. But all that stress, even though it was good stress, had an unexpected outcome: Lowes was diagnosed with psoriasis. The symptoms have affected the back of her neck, behind her ears, the base of her head, and behind her ears, she told People. Since then, stress has continued to be one of Lowes’ biggest triggers. Her solution? “I do Hatha yoga…three times a week, and do two hikes a week,” she told the LA Times, adding that as far as the psoriasis goes, she is now her “own boss.”
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