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Kim Kardashian raised the profile of psoriasis this week in an Instagram story
Love her or hate her, Kim Kardashian (one of the most famous women in the world, just in case you’ve been living under a rock since the mid-'00s) has been raising the profile of psoriasis through social media.
Kardashian-West was diagnosed with psoriasis in 2011, and on Monday, she shared pictures of her condition on her Instagram story.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic but non-contagious skin condition that can cause red, flaky and crusty patches of skin that can be itchy and painful depending on their severity. Psoriasis speeds up the life cycle of skin cells, allowing them to build up rapidly, causing the characteristic lesions, called plaques.
Psoriasis most commonly affects the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back areas, but can affect any area of the body, including the nails. Some people that suffer from the condition will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis; a painful condition that causes stiffness and swelling in the joints and low back.
Whilst psoriasis is rarely a cause for concern and isn’t often a life-threatening condition, it can deeply affect those that suffer with it in a variety of ways. The appearance of the skin plaques can cause psychological issues, lowering self-esteem and confidence. Although Kim Kardashian now embraces the condition and chooses not to cover it up, she’s no stranger to hurtful comments, with a tabloid paper recently saying she’d had a “bad skin day”.
Comments like these are damaging, and Kardashian called out the paper for their behaviour. We applaud her for this, as no doubt some of her young and impressionable fans will suffer from the condition and may take the flippant comments to heart. If you struggle with your mental health or self-esteem due to psoriasis, it might be worth considering talking therapies such as CBT to overcome your feelings and re-train your brain into positive thought patterns.
Can it be treated?
Whilst there’s no cure for psoriasis, treatments are available (as Kardashian showed off via Instagram). If you’re diagnosed with the condition, topical corticosteroids are usually a first-line treatment that you may be prescribed. These are applied directly to the skin-plaques or affected areas, and they reduce inflammation, meaning that the growth of skin cells is slowed down, and any itchiness should also subside. Corticosteroids are prescription-only medications and can vary in strength. Depending on the severity of your psoriasis, your GP may recommend one strength over another. Some common topical corticosteroids include:
Your doctor may prescribe one of the above treatments, or recommend a different one depending on what's best for you and your psoriasis.
Other treatments include Vitamin D analogue creams, calcineurin inhibitors, coal tar (one of the oldest treatments for psoriasis), dithranol (though extreme care is required when using this treatment), different types of phototherapy, and oral medications amongst others.
Alternatively, you can try and treat the skin plaques with herbal remedies like Kim K herself.
What causes Psoriasis?
Whilst the cause isn't fully understood, it's thought that the condition is caused by an issue with the immune system, causing the skin cells to rapidly build up. Because of this, many websites (including US-based www.psoriasis.org) class it as a chronic autoimmune condition. It is also thought to run in families and can skip generations.
Certain triggers can cause a flare-up of psoriasis, though these can vary from person to person. Some common triggers include:
- skin injuries
- excessive alcohol consumption
- hormonal changes
- some medications
- other immune disorders or infections
Unfortunately, it isn't always possible to avoid triggers, especially ones such as hormonal changes, infections and injuries, but the treatments mentioned above should help to keep troublesome symptoms at bay.
The controversial international star gains all kinds of the press every day, but for her attitude towards psoriasis and raising the profile of the condition, we applaud you, Kim!