"For so much of my life, I felt like I have to hide," the singer shared in an emotional and raw Instagram post.

By Claire Gillespie
October 30, 2020
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Many people with psoriasis—a chronic autoimmune skin condition that affects more than 8 million Americans, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF)—shared photos of their skin on social media to mark World Psoriasis Day (October 29). That included singer and actor LeAnn Rimes, who shared two incredibly personal and beautiful images on Instagram.

"This is finally my time to be unabashedly honest about what psoriasis is and what it looks like," Rimes wrote in the caption.

In Rimes's Instagram images, her skin is completely exposed. "I'm tired of hiding," she wrote. "When you're hiding your physical body, there's so much that rolls over into your emotional and spiritual mental health. You feel like you're holding yourself back—like you've been caged in."

Rimes also wrote an essay for Glamour, in which she said she was first diagnosed with psoriasis when she was only two years old. While psoriasis is most often seen for the first time in young adults, the NPF says around 20,000 children under the age of 10 in the US are diagnosed with the condition every year.

"By the time I was six, about 80% of my body was covered in painful red spots—everything but my hands, feet, and face," Rimes wrote. That was in the '80s, and psoriasis wasn't openly talked about. "In the world we lived in, our 'flaws' were not invited to the forefront," Rimes said.

She tried everything to keep her condition under control, including steroid creams, "major medications," and wrapping her body in coal tar and Saran Wrap. When she was onstage—she signed her first record deal at age 11—she'd often rely on jeans or two pairs of pantyhose, even in sweltering heat, to mask her psoriasis. "Underneath my shirt, my whole stomach would be covered in thick scales that would hurt and bleed," she wrote. "For so much of my life, I felt like I had to hide."

In her 20s, Rimes finally found a psoriasis treatment that helped keep her skin clear. She doesn't give the name of the medication, but she does refer to getting shots. If topical treatments like steroids don't clear psoriasis, doctors might suggest injectable drugs, per the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

As she got older, Rimes managed to stretch out the amount of time between her shots, until she felt comfortable going off them completely in 2017. But everything changed earlier this year. "All hell broke loose in the world—and inside of me, as I'm sure it did for so many other people amid this pandemic," she wrote. "With so much uncertainty happening, my flare-ups came right back."

"There are some people for whom stress is clearly a trigger [for psoriasis outbreaks]," Mark Lebwohl, MD, chairman of the medical board of the NPF, previously told Health.

The stress-psoriasis cycle can be a vicious one, but certain steps can lessen the blow. California-based dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD, recommends meditation and relaxation breathing exercises. But avoid a long soak in a hot bath, as appealing as that may sound. For your skin's sake, the less time in hot water, the better. "Have a calming bath with oatmeal but make it quick," Dr. Shamban previously told Health. "Go for shorter and more tepid showers and baths."

Rimes has talked about having psoriasis before—back in 2008, she got involved with the "Stop Hiding from Psoriasis" campaign, which was a collaboration between the NPF and the AAD. But as she writes in her essay, it's different this time.

"When I first revealed it, it was a big deal for me to come out and say, 'I deal with this.' But so many people responded, 'Oh my God, your skin is so clear!'" she wrote. "Because, yeah, I was speaking about it only when my skin was clear. I think people thought I was making it up because they've never seen me with a flare-up."

Rimes describes the powerful, beautiful photos as "a sigh of relief" that she desperately needed. And to her surprise, they weren't as challenging to look at as she expected. "It's one thing to see yourself and judge yourself in the mirror; I thought it would be even harder in a photo, which is why in the past I never let people take pictures of me during flare-ups," she wrote in Glamour. "Being in our own bodies, we judge ourselves so harshly. But when I look at these photos, I see so much more than my skin."

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