Chronic skin issues like psoriasis and eczema affect millions of Americans, yet they are still widely misunderstood — which is why a growing number of celebrities are speaking out about what it’s like to live with these conditions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune skin disease that accelerates the growth cycle of skin cells. This can cause a person’s skin to become dry, flaky, scaly, or itchy. (Psoriasis rashes can disappear and reappear throughout a person’s life based on situational factors like illness or stress levels, a phenomenon known as “flare-ups.”)
Psoriasis not contagious, and it mostly occurs in adults, although children can be diagnosed too. There is no cure for the condition, but symptoms can be managed with topical medications and stress-relief measures.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, presents similarly, with patches of dry, severely itchy skin. This condition is also chronic, but it is not considered an autoimmune disease. According to the National Eczema Association, experts believe it is caused by “an interaction between a person’s environment and their genes,” in which topical irritants or allergens trigger an outsized immune response. Eczema’s characteristic itchiness can be managed by using topical creams, moisturizers, and cold compresses, and by avoiding known itch triggers.
Since the dry, flaky skin patches associated with psoriasis and eczema are often highly visible, these conditions can be a huge source of shame, insecurity, or loneliness. Psoriasis in particular is still shrouded in stigma. Per the National Psoriasis Association, many people mistakenly believe that psoriasis is contagious. This harmful misconception affects how they treat people with psoriasis flare-ups.
Chronic health issues are nothing to be ashamed of — and that includes skin conditions. Luckily, many public figures are doing their part to raise awareness about psoriasis and eczema. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Jessica Simpson, Jonathan Van Ness, and LeeAnn Rimes have all used their platforms to speak firsthand about what it’s like to live with a chronic skin condition.
Read on to learn more about nine celebrities who have opened up publicly about battling psoriasis or eczema.
Kim Kardashian experienced her first psoriasis flare-up at 25 years old.
“I got a common cold, and since psoriasis is an autoimmune condition, this triggered it,” the reality TV star recounted in a blog post for Poosh, her sister Kourtney’s website. “It was all over my stomach and legs.”
Kim saw a dermatologist at the time, who gave her a shot of cortisone. She didn’t experience another flare-up until her early 30s. Keeping Up With the Kardashians fans may remember Kim receiving her diagnosis at the dermatologist’s office, which she chronicled on camera in 2011.
Time after time, Cyndi Lauper has struggled with dry, flaky skin as a result of psoriasis.
In 2015, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter opened up about her ongoing battle with the chronic skin condition. She recalled her first flare-up, which affected the skin on her scalp. Lauper was on tour at the time and didn’t know what to do.
“My poor stylist, I remember, she got me this shirt with spots all over it so you couldn’t tell,” she said.
After sharing her story, Lauper partnered with the National Psoriasis Foundation and the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation — which manufacturers a psoriasis drug — to spread awareness about the condition.
“I’m not talking about it because I feel sorry for myself. I’m talking about it because no one talks about it,” the “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” singer said. “It affects more than 8 million people, right? And I happen to be one of them. And I’m not looking to do anything but tell people to take care of yourself. Because I was lying in bed, and I felt like it was swallowing me up.”
Cara Delevingne has spoken about having psoriasis in the past, but it became the subject of headlines in 2022, when she didn’t cover up the dry-skin patches on her elbows at that year’s Met Gala. The model and actress was praised for owning how her skin looked in the middle of a flare-up.
“[Flare-ups] only [happen] during Fashion Week!” she told W magazine back in 2013, alluding to the high-stress nature of the event. “Which is, of course, the worst time of year for me to be covered in scabs.”
LeeAnn Rimes was diagnosed with psoriasis at the tender age of two, per Everyday Health. The country singer largely hid her red, scaly skin patches from the world until 2020, when she shared a full-body photo of herself during a flare-up for World Psoriasis Day.
“Music has been my gift, and why I’m here. But I want to give a voice to these other pieces of me,” she wrote on Instagram. “And I want to give a voice to what so many other people are going through. This is finally my time to be unabashedly honest about what psoriasis is and what it looks like.”
Fighting stress is key to preventing psoriasis flare-ups, but that has historically been a challenge for Rimes, who has been “on the road and in the public eye” since she was a kid. These days, she relies heavily on meditation, self-compassion, and support from family and friends to keep her in the right headspace.
“I mean, connection is a huge, huge piece,” she shared. “And being able to verbalize my own internal experience to those who I know love me and will listen. Having a great support system around you.”
What Not to Wear fans will instantly recognize fashion mogul Stacy London, but they may not know that she has psoriasis.
Speaking to Healthline in 2017, London recalled being body-shamed by an adult woman on the beach for her psoriasis rash when she was just 11 years old. The experience stuck with her —and galvanized her to become an advocate for the condition.
Throughout her career, London has partnered with groups like the National Psoriasis Foundation and AbbVie, a pharmacutical company, to raise awareness. She’s also leveraged her fashion expertise to help people with psoriasis dress in a stylish way that still makes them feel comfortable while experiencing a flare-up.
“My personal experience and my professional skill set came together on What Not to Wear,” she recalled. “It all kind of came out in the wash.”
Jessica Simpson has battled eczema since her youth. As a teen, her patches of dry, itchy skin were “mild to moderate,” but they got worse after she gave birth to her third child in 2019.
“My husband Eric [Johnson] was taking pictures of us to send out on a mass group text to everybody and it was a really sweet picture, but then when I looked at it I realized I hadn’t looked at myself in a very long time,” the singer told Byrdie in 2020.
Simpson contacted her doctor, who prescribed her a fragrance-free eczema cream. She now swears by the treatment. It was so effective, she felt compelled to speak out about her experience with eczema.
“I decided it was important for anybody that is experiencing any bumps and they don’t know what it is to have the eczema conversation with your doctor,” she added.
Like Simpson, Kerry Washington was diagnosed with eczema at a young age. The actress and Neutrogena ambassador has been “in and out of dermatologists offices my whole life” because of the condition, she told TODAY earlier this year.
In a 2020 Vogue interview about her beauty routine, Washington said she “really [pays] attention to what works and what doesn’t, and how the weather changes my skin.”
“For me, it’s not just about looking cute. It’s also really about being able to have skin that’s healthy and not too itchy and cracks, and all that stuff that happens with eczema,” she continued.
Tia Mowry didn’t receive an accurate diagnosis for eczema until she visited her gynecologist — a fellow Black woman — while she happened to have a flare-up of dry, itchy skin.
“I had an eczema flareup at the time and my hands were peeling like my mother’s [who also has the skin condition],” Mowry told InStyle in 2021. “She’s a Black doctor, and she told me it was eczema and I didn’t even know. She was the one who referred me to a dermatologist and from there I was diagnosed.”
Since then, the Tia & Tamera alum has become a vocal advocate for other Black women who have skin conditions.
“I was suffering with eczema for years and didn’t know because of the lack of information, educational tools, resources, and visibility on what it looks like on Black skin,” she added.
Jonathan Van Ness
Jonathan Van Ness first experienced symptoms of psoriasis at 23. “I was covered in little red dots and I didn’t know what it was,” they told Parade. “My skin was itchy and tight at times. It didn’t hurt that bad, but I knew it wasn’t normal.”
After the Queer Eye star finally got a diagnosis, it took them “a long time” to learn how to manage their symptoms.
“It can feel isolating. I want people to know that they are not alone,” Van Ness added. “It’s something that millions of people have, and there’s nothing wrong with us because we have psoriasis. We’re still gorgeous and we’re still beautiful people.”