Kim Kardashian calls psoriasis 'painful and scary' — who is at risk?

·Lifestyle Editor
·5-min read
Kim Kardashian has opened up about her psoriasis in the past, but what is it? (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty Images)
Kim Kardashian has opened up about her psoriasis in the past, but what is it? (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty Images)

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

Kim Kardashian opens up about psoriasis: The fast five

1. Kim Kardashian has spoken out about her psoriasis in the past, which is an inflammatory disease that causes scaly patches to grow on your skin.

2. Common symptoms of psoriasis are painful joints and itchy patches of red, scaly skin.

3. Although the exact cause of psoriasis is a mystery, risk factors include family history, lifestyle and taking certain medications.

4. While there's no cure for psoriasis, treatment options include topical creams, UV light therapy and medication.

5. Although there are no known ways to prevent psoriasis, regular exercise combined with a healthy diet and adequate sleep can help prevent inflammation in the body.

So, what's the scoop?

In 2005, Kim Kardashian suffered her first bout of psoriasis — an inflammatory disease that causes scaly patches to grow on your skin — at the age of 25.

"I got a common cold, and since psoriasis is an autoimmune condition, this triggered it. It was all over my stomach and legs," the reality star wrote on her sister Kourtney's website Poosh.

Over the years, Kardashian has gotten candid about her condition and the flare-ups associated with it, saying "it’s still painful and scary." Although the mother-of-four has to manage her symptoms on a daily basis, she realizes that optimism is key.

"You have to do what you can to make sure you are comfortable but not let it take over. ... I hope my story can help anyone else with an autoimmune disease feel confident that there is light at the end of the tunnel," she explains.

Since August is Psoriasis Awareness Month, Yahoo Canada is on a mission to tell readers about the condition, along with its signs and symptoms.

Psoriasis causes painful, scaly and rashy skin. (Photo via Getty Images)
Psoriasis causes painful, scaly and rashy skin. (Photo via Getty Images)

What is psoriasis?

According to the Canadian Psoriasis Network, psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease that "manifests in the skin, joints and other organs." The condition causes skin cells to multiply up to 10 times faster than normal, which results in a rash with itchy and scaly patches. These patches are most commonly found on the elbows, knees and scalp. The condition is long-term and currently has no cure.

"There are five major forms of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, pustular, inverse and erythrodermic. While most people suffer from one type, patients can be affected by more than one type over the span of their lives," a representative from the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) tells Yahoo Canada, who prefers to remain anonymous. "The condition currently affects about one million Canadians, and it's not contagious. Being informed about the disease and its effects will lead to better disease management and overall treatment outcomes."

What are the symptoms of psoriasis?

Depending on the type of psoriasis you have, Natalia Blakely, a private nurse based in Toronto, tells Yahoo Canada "the signs and symptoms can vary dramatically."

She continues: "Usually psoriasis manifests in painful patches or rashes of red and inflamed skin that often has flaky scales on it." These patches can also be itchy and can crack or bleed.

Blakely adds that the condition can also be associated with arthritis, which causes achy and swollen joints.

If you have psoriasis, you will often have "flare-ups" that can make your symptoms worse. The CDA representative explains that "cold or dry weather, stress, infections, alcohol or smoking can make symptoms worse."

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, it's imperative you seek medical attention as soon as possible to receive adequate treatment.

Psoriasis can show up on a patient's scalp. (Photo via Getty Images)
Psoriasis can show up on a patient's scalp. (Photo via Getty Images)

What causes psoriasis?

Psoriasis affects people of all races and genders and usually appears in early adulthood (between the ages of 15 to 35).

"The exact cause of psoriasis is a mystery, but there's been some indication that something has to set off your immune system to trigger the disease, which is probably a combination of factors," says the CDA source.

Potential risks include having an autoimmune disease or a family member with a history of chronic diseases, smoking or drinking alcohol on a regular basis, living in a high stress environment, not getting enough sun exposure or taking certain medications such as lithium or propranolol, which treat bipolar disorder and high blood pressure.

How is psoriasis treated?

There's no cure for psoriasis, but treatment can help patients manage their condition and live as normal a life as possible. While this doesn't happen for everyone affected by the disease, some people are able to get rid of their symptoms completely.

"Depending on the severity, doctors will probably first give you a topical cream to rub directly on your skin. This could be a steroid cream to help control the affected immune cells, or a heavy duty moisturizer with salicylic acid that can help soothe skin and get rid of rashes," says Blakely.

Other treatments include UV light therapy to slow down fast-growing skin cells, or medications such as immunosuppressants.

UV light therapy is a common treatment for psoriasis. (Photo via Getty Images)
UV light therapy is a common treatment for psoriasis. (Photo via Getty Images)

How can I prevent psoriasis?

Although there are no known ways to prevent psoriasis, regular exercise, combined with a healthy diet and adequate sleep, can help prevent inflammation in the body.

"You can also make sure to get some fresh air and sunlight on a regular basis, avoid cold or dry environments, keep your skin moisturized, and keep your stress levels in check," adds the CDA source.

If you or someone you know is diagnosed with psoriasis, it's important to understand the condition, follow your treatment plan, keep positive and surround yourself with an uplifting support system. While the condition may not be curable, it can be managed and patients can still live long, healthy lives.

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