Despite everything we’re told to the contrary, we tend to think of celebrities as images of air-brushed perfection; even when these celebrities make their name on “reality” TV shows. Kim Kardashian, star of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” recently brought reality (and not the scripted kind) back to the small screen when she revealed an odd rash to her dermatologist as cameras rolled. That rash turned out to be psoriasis, which is often marked by red patches of skin covered by silvery “scales,” dry, cracked skin that may bleed, and stiff and swollen joints (among other symptoms).
According the National Psoriasis Foundation, this puts her in good company: 7.5 million Americans (approximately 2.2 percent of the population) are believed to have psoriasis.
Every August, the National Psoriasis Foundation sponsors National Psoriasis Awareness Month, which is dedicated to educating the public and dispelling stereotypes. Though the cause of psoriasis isn’t entirely known, the common belief is that its origins reside in our genetic makeup (Kardashian’s mother, Kris Jenner, was diagnosed with the disease at age 30) and individual immune systems — so psoriasis isn’t contagious. The condition can be triggered in those who carry it by infections like strep throat or thrush, an injury to the skin like sunburn, cuts or scrapes, or a bug bite. Cold weather and stress can also bring about a flare-up.
Some of the treatment options available include topical ointments, such as corticosteroids, light therapy, and oral medications. Psoriasis sufferers can also be proactive about home care by indulging themselves in daily baths with colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts to help soothe troubled skin. They should also avoid alcohol while enjoying a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Medicated creams with hydrocortisone or salicylic acid can be valued allies in reducing itching and scaling.
The stigma that people with psoriasis endure is powerful: “A lot of people with psoriasis cover up and feel a certain amount of shame and embarrassment, because the disease is so visible and people think it’s contagious,” says Catie Coman, director of communications for The National Psoriasis Foundation. “They face discrimination in public. Everyone with moderate to severe psoriasis has a story about being kicked out of a pool or a salon.”
Kim Kardashian is fighting back against these misperceptions by refusing to forsake her favorite micro-minis and daring ensembles. Recently, she was seen filming her reality show while wearing a flirty flip skirt and peep-toe Christian Louboutin stilettos, despite the red bumps along her calves.
If you’re living in the Baltimore area, you can take advantage of the Divisions of Dermatology at Sinai and Northwest Hospital, which offer state-of-the-art, compassionate care to those with psoriasis. To reach Sinai Hospital, please call 410-601-WELL. To reach Northwest Hospital, please call 410-521-2200.
To schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained physicians and find out why LifeBridge Health is Baltimore's premiere health care organization, call 410-601-WELL.
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