Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition caused by an overactive immune system that speeds up skin cell growth. It manifests as itchy, flaky red skin, and can also lead to other health issues including arthritis, depression and diabetes, but contrary to popular belief, it's not contagious.
It affects around 125 million people globally, and of those millions of people are several celebrities who have been diagnosed. From former Loose Women host Saira Khan to Strictly Come Dancing's Aljaž Škorjanec, here's everything they've had to say about living with psoriasis, in honour of World Psoriasis Day.
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1. Saira Khan
Loose Women star Saira Khan has suffered with psoriasis since childhood. She has opened up about her battle several times, and previously said that it was worse than ever after the birth of her first child Zac in 2008. "I've never had it this bad," she told the Daily Mail. "Zac was two weeks overdue and I'd wanted a natural birth, but had to be induced. That didn't work so I had to have an emergency caesarean. Zac is a really beautiful boy and I'm very proud of him, but it just wasn’t the way I wanted to have my first child and I got quite upset about it.
SEE: Saira Khan opens up about her anxiety-inducing skin condition as she poses in a bikini on holiday
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"A few weeks after giving birth, my skin began to feel itchy and gradually developed flaky patches again. I would have loved to wear sleeveless tops this summer, but I didn't want anyone to see my skin."
Fast-forward to 2019, and Saira explained that she had since taken stock of the condition, and was able to "show off" her skin. She shared a series of photos from a holiday and wrote: "Never in my dreams did I ever think that after suffering with skin disorders most of my teenage and young adult life I would ever be able to show off my skin as I did on this holiday.
"I can’t tell you the amount of anxious years I have spent carefully choosing what clothes to wear because my skin was red raw, bloody or inflamed due to the amount of scratching that I did. Nobody really appreciates skin disorders because they are not threatening - but when you have psoriasis, eczema, sensitive skin or vitiligo no one really understands how this can knock your confidence and affect your mental health."
She continued to explain how she learnt to make peace with her conditions with "years of self-care, dedication and patience" and that despite having scars and "not so perfect skin, I am finally happy and confident to wear what I like and not be ashamed of my skin."
How did she manage to soothe her symptoms? While speaking to the Daily Mail, she explained that she believed her sensitivity to steroid creams worsened her condition as it thinned the skin, and so made the decision to steer clear. She now opts for natural skincare, and is well aware of the connection between stress and her flare-ups, which she does her best to manage.
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2. Aljaz Skorjanec
Strictly Come Dancing professional Aljaz Skorjanec opened up about his experience with psoriasis in an exclusive interview with HELLO!. He explained that he noticed his first flare-up as a teenager, after moving to Australia to pursue a career as a professional dancer. "I put my mind under stress moving into a different place and living on my own for the first time. It was a lot of hard work on my mind and body. And I feel like through that stress, my psoriasis started appearing."
Stumped at finding a solution, the star revealed as the years went on, he tried "everything" to find a fix. "The only thing that really helped for a long time was steroids", he said.
"It then started appearing on my face. That's when it really started affecting my confidence, my self-esteem and just my general wellbeing as well to be honest. Every time I would get up in the morning to brush my teeth, the first thing I saw was myself and all I could see was the sore redness under my eyes."
Aljaž opened up about his lowest point living with the skin condition, describing his worst flare-up as one of the "busiest times" in his life.
"It was a few years ago, it was right before I started Strictly. For whatever reason, I didn't take much of a break that summer. I kind of went straight through work, work, work, and rarely gave myself time off."
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"When I then started Strictly professional rehearsals, my skin really flared up. Sweat doesn't help in rehearsals because sweat is acidic. And if you don't cleanse your skin of sweat, it irritates the skin. So if you suffer from something like psoriasis (and in rehearsals I sweat a lot normally), that's when it got really bad and that's when it started really appearing on my face."
Passionate about breaking the taboo of chronic skin conditions and encouraging others to be kind to those suffering, Aljaž said: "Because skin conditions are so visual, they encourage people to pick up on them more easily. And that's why it's so important to talk about it and understand it."
"Psoriasis is not a pleasant thing to have. It takes a lot of time to manage it, both physically and mentally. So I do hope that one day, we get to the point where we find something that cures it. But for now, the best product that I have found is Medovie."
The star shared that he was approached by the scientific founder of skincare brand Medovie, who shared a natural approach to treating a chronic skin condition with completely natural elements – and he saw an almost instant result, leaving his skin looking the best it's looked "in a decade without the use of a steroid cream."
3. Giovanni Pernice
In 2019, Strictly star Giovanni Pernice shared that the stress of the show had caused a psoriasis flare-up. Speaking to his partner Michelle Visage on her Instagram Stories, he said: "I just scratched myself because I was itchy," to which Michelle explained: "He says I'm giving him psoriasis." Giovanni replied: "Yes you are giving me psoriasis. But other than that, it's going really well." It's not known if he suffered with the condition beforehand.
MORE: Strictly's Giovanni Pernice claims Michelle Visage has given him psoriasis
4. Kim Kardashian
Keeping Up With The Kardashians star Kim experienced her first psoriasis flare-up at just 25, and has been battling to manage the autoimmune condition ever since. She's opened up about rashes and joint pain that she's had as side effects, but adds that she hasn't let it affect her life. "I've become extremely comfortable with my psoriasis," she said on Poosh. "No matter where it is on my body, sometimes I am fine with showing it off and other times I don't want it to be a distraction, so I cover it up with body makeup."
As for how she treats it, she explained: "Before the psoriatic arthritis hit, I spent about four months doing everything natural – every ointment, cream, serum and foam you can possibly imagine, and everything from the dermatologist. I even tried a herbal tea that tasted like tar."
Her advice for anyone else suffering? Upon sharing a photo of a flare-up on her face, she said: "If you have psoriasis, you can't let it ruin your life or get the best of you. You have to do what you can to make sure you are comfortable but not let it take over."
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5. Olivia Bowen
Love Island star Olivia Bowen was diagnosed with psoriasis when she was 17. She has played a huge part in breaking the taboo around chronic skin conditions since, and often shares photos of patches on her body.
In a recent Instagram post, she said: "Some days I don't wanna look at my skin, some days I don't care, some days I love it. The reality is it just doesn't [expletive] matter in comparison to what is worth our time in the world.
"I just get on with my life & do my work & enjoy being alive & live my best! The main reason I acknowledge my psoriasis online is because I KNOW how much I would have loved to see someone in the public eye with it when I had it last at 17 years old.
"It shouldn't even be a thing to be honest, but I know how on bad days it can get you down. Your messages on how much it helps seeing me confident with it are really lovely. Really so sweet & I'm happy that you guys can take something away from seeing someone just living with it. You can too!"
In February 2021, she revealed that her patches usually settle from prescription steroid creams.
6. Cara Delevingne
Model Cara Delevingne's psoriasis is typically stress-induced, and her first flare-up came during Fashion Week in 2013. Speaking to W Magazine, Cara said: "It only happened during fashion week! Which is, of course, the worst time of the year for me to be covered in scabs." She added that her friend and fellow model Kate Moss recommended a dermatologist, where Cara was diagnosed.
At the time, Cara added that people's perceptions of the condition would affect her mentally: "People would put on gloves and not want to touch me because they thought it was like leprosy or something. It wasn't a good time, I was like fight and flight for months," she said. "Just constantly on edge. It is a mental thing as well because if you hate yourself and your body and the way you look, it just gets worse and worse."
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7. Kris Jenner
KUWTK momager Kris also battles with psoriasis, which could explain why Kim has it, since the condition is often genetic. Kris was diagnosed at 30, and Kim opened up about her mum's journey as she discussed her own: "My journey has been very different from my mom's," she began. " But I see so many similarities as well. She had it in her scalp and all over her body, and I'd see it all the time. I am the only child my mum passed down her autoimmune issue to."
8. Jonathan Van Ness
Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness first opened up about his psoriasis when he shared an unedited photo of his body on Instagram. "So I was going to start FaceTuning the spots out, but then I was like, 'No, I'm just gonna post it. Your body is fierce, it's cute, it's fine, and the more people that know about psoriasis, the more you'll stop having to tell cute guys about it when you take your top off," he told Allure. Jonathan had his first psoriasis flare-up when he was 23. In June 2018, he revealed he had been flare-free for six months, and explained that he credits this largely to journaling for "stress levels", as well as a dermatologist-prescribed steroid cream.
9. CariDee English
America's Next Top Model winner CariDee English has been particularly open about her battle with plaque psoriasis. She inherited it from her mum when she was five, and by the time she was 12, 70 per cent of her body was covered. In an interview with Health, she explained that being a model with the condition wasn't easy. "At 17, I joined a modelling agency, hiding my psoriasis behind layers and layers of makeup all over my body," she said. "But during one photo shoot by the ocean, the makeup washed off. The agency fired me." CariDee is now a spokesperson for Stelara, an immunosuppressive treatment for the condition.
10. LeAnn Rimes
Country music singer LeAnn Rimes first discovered she had psoriasis when she was two. She told Shape that she hid the condition for years, and didn't open up about it until it was under control and she felt confident enough to share her experience. She said she took control "by taking care of myself and realising I have control over what goes in my body". "Really educating myself about my disease and how to manage it. As you get older, you realise it's just skin," she added. "If you're not going to love me because of what you're looking at, then you have issues with you, not with me. I know I have a lot more to offer."
LeAnn now focuses on managing her stress levels to keep flare-ups at bay, by practicing yoga and working out. She has also cut out fatty, fried food from her diet, as well as almost all gluten, and drinks as much water as she can.
"Psoriasis affects people both physically and emotionally," she said. "I encourage everyone with psoriasis to see a doctor. Find a treatment plan that works for you. If you are feeling isolated, reach out and ask someone for help. Remember, you're not alone."
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