Here's what the singer wants you to know about the autoimmune disease–and her own diagnosis and treatment journey.

Julia Naftulin
October 16, 2017

I found out I had psoriasis when...

I had this kind of buildup on my scalp, which, because my son played hockey at the time, I thought Oh, it might be bugs [from the hockey players]. I’d never had bugs. Then I went to the doctor and he said, "No, no, no, that’s plaque psoriasis." He gave me some shampoo, and it kept it at bay a little bit, and then it started to spread. In 2012, it was really, really not good. By 2014, I was covered head to toe except for my face. I was able to hide it. But it took my strength.

The hardest thing about my diagnosis was...

I always had pretty skin when I was young. I thought I’d never be able to feel my skin again. I gave up hope. I did every kind of treatment. I didn't realize that the cortisone cream was going to thin my skin out so much. I rubbed up against a cab one time and a piece of skin on my arm came off.

You’re tired. It’s an inflammatory disease so it kind of zaps your strength. And trying to sing, work out, and have all this [clothing] on, and then taking it off, your skin comes with it. It’s awful. Emotionally, honestly, at the height of being that sick you feel very much alone. Actually, I’m one of 7.5 million people in this country with psoriasis. When it flairs, it’s real bad. People who suffer with it on their knees or elbows, it gets bad, it hurts. I still worked, but it was difficult. I had to get up in front of people acting like a big, strong woman and really you’re just feeling your mortality.

RELATED: The Different Types of Psoriasis

I finally got help when...

I came upon, through the National Psoriasis Foundation, a doctor who gave me options. The problem sometimes is you feel like you don’t have options.

I tried a lot of lifestyle changes, I really did. They didn’t work for me. That’s what pissed me off so much. I thought I’d be gluten-free, I wouldn’t drink alcohol, or do this or that, and it was so stressful that I figured it wasn't changing anything. After five years, I went on traditional medicine. At first I tried cortisone and realized those side effects were too much for me. So I talked about the options with my doctors. I chose the option I thought I could live with and that’s how I’m sustaining myself now. Now I can get back to the things I like to do, like singing and going on tour.

After I started the medicine, the psoriasis started to go away, and I couldn’t even believe it. I was always on eggshells. I still lather up with cream and am nervous because I don’t want to go back to that.

I advocate for psoriasis awareness because...

One person told me, “You’re so famous, you can bring a voice to this like nobody else.” [Psoriasis] is one of those things that no one wants to talk about, which makes it something I want to talk about. I just think in the world, for me, there are only unpopular causes. The popular causes will be taken care of, but the unpopular causes and the people who don’t have a voice, those are the ones you should speak for.

One misconception I wish people didn’t have about psoriasis is...

That it’s contagious. It’s a very unattractive disease because you shed everywhere.

Also, there is hope. I want to write a song for the people who have gone through this and what they inspired in me, which was hope.

I want someone who was just diagnosed with psoriasis to know…

It’s not just a rash. Cream helps at first, and I hope it always helps, but it’s something you should research right away. Don’t let it go. Get information. Knowledge is power.

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To keep my mental health in check, I...

Call the doctor. When you get the information and find a treatment for yourself, well, then you can meditate. You can take an Epsom salt bath. But don’t go without treatment. It’s an inflammatory disease that can lead to other things. Get treatment for your peace of mind. You’re hurting inside because you feel powerless and information is power. Help yourself. Don’t just sit in the dark.