“I’ve been pretty open about my struggles with it,” West said in a post on her app Wednesday. “I have that one patch on my right leg that is the most visible. I don’t even really try to cover it that much anymore.”
Psoriasis is a chronic condition where skin cells build up rapidly and form a thick, flakey patches on the skin’s surface that can be itchy or even painful, according to the Mayo Clinic. No one knows exactly what causes psoriasis, but some think it’s related to an immune system problem in which overactive T cells attack healthy cells by mistake.
Psoriasis affects approximately 2 percent of the U.S. population, with about 150,000 new cases diagnosed every year, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Risk factors for developing psoriasis include stress, obesity, smoking and certain viral and bacterial infections. West, who was diagnosed with it in 2010, has another common risk factor: family history. Her mother, Kris Jenner, also has the condition.
There’s no cure for psoriasis, but topical treatments including nonprescription cortisone cream and exposing the skin to small amounts of natural sunlight can help ease psoriasis’ symptoms.
For some people who suffer from psoriasis it can help to identify and avoid their own psoriasis triggers, which can include factors like infections, scrapes or cuts, sunburn, stress, cold weather, smoking, heavy drinking and certain medications.
For West, living her life in the spotlight is, surprisingly, a bit of a blessing when it comes to having psoriasis. “Sometimes I just feel like it’s my big flaw and everyone knows about it, so why cover it?” West asked.
West isn’t the only one who feels this way. According to a 2009 National Psoriasis Foundation survey, 73 percent of survey respondents with psoriasis said they felt self-conscious about having the disease, and 67 percent of women responded that psoriasis affected their overall emotional well-being.
In that sense, West’s attitude might be helpful to any fans who share the condition. She isn’t pretending to love her psoriasis, but she’s on the red carpet baring her skin for the world to see ― and she’s evolving.
“After this many years, I’ve really learned to live with it.”