What the reality star’s diagnosis means, and how to manage this chronic skin condition.
She’s famous for her curves, but lately everyone’s talking about her skin. If you’re keeping up with the Kardashians, you know that Kim has psoriasis. What she thought was a rash turned out to be the chronic skin condition, which often shows up as thick, red skin with flaky, silver-white patches. Not only can the lesions be unsightly, they can also be itchy and painful, too. The reality TV star’s diagnosis has put a spotlight on the disorder, which affects millions of Americans.
Good to Know
Psoriasis is not contagious, but in many cases, there is a family history of the condition. It occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth of skin cells. The result: Dead skin cells build up on the skin’s surface.
Research shows that people with psoriasis are at increased risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Psoriasis has also been associated with diabetes and depression. Between 10 and 30 percent of people who get psoriasis also get psoriatic arthritis. This type of arthritis can eat away at joints, so treatment is essential.
While there’s no cure for the lifelong condition, there are several treatment options. There are topical medications, such as lotions, ointments and creams. Doctors may also prescribe pills or injections that affect the whole body (not just the skin). The third type of treatment is phototherapy, which uses light to treat the affected area.
If you’re diagnosed with psoriasis, it’s important to know what causes flare-ups. While triggers may vary, there are steps you can take to help manage the condition and make treatment more effective.
- Get in Touch with Your Triggers
These can include:
- Bacterial or viral infections, including strep throat and upper respiratory infections
- Dry air or dry skin
- Medications, such as beta-blockers and lithium; always talk with your doctor before making any changes in your medication
- Skin injuries, including cuts, burns and insect bites
- Don’t Stress Out
Some people with psoriasis say their condition gets worse when they are under stress. It’s best to avoid stressful situations when you can, but since that isn’t always possible, it may be helpful to experiment with relaxation, meditation and other calming techniques to deal with the pressure.
- Limit Liquor
Heavy drinking may be a factor in severe psoriasis. Alcohol can also have very serious side effects when mixed with some psoriasis medications, so it’s best to discuss alcohol use when you talk about psoriasis with your doctor.
- Stop Smoking
Quitting the habit may also make a difference. Research shows that those who smoke may have a greater risk of developing psoriasis. In addition, studies have found that smokers with psoriasis may be more likely to experience more severe symptoms.
- Soothe Your Skin
It’s important to practice good skin care, and part of that is keeping the skin moist. After bathing or showering, it’s a good idea to seal in moisture by applying a generous amount of moisturizing cream or oil. Take extra care in winter months because the cool, dry air can be especially harsh on skin. Scratching is also a no-no because it damages the skin, which can make psoriasis worse. If you think you might have psoriasis, consult your doctor or dermatologist.