Is Kim Kardashian Acting Rashly?

In tonight’s  new episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kim goes to her dermatologist, Dr Harold A. Lancer, to have him look at a rash on her legs. He diagnoses her as having psoriasis, a skin condition that her mother, Kris Jenner, has had for many years. The doctor explains that the disease is influenced by many things, such as “stress, food, water, diet. Travel has a lot to do with it” and suggests that she “lead an easier, slower paced life.” Dr. Lancer finally tells her that although there is no “cure” for the condition, it can be controlled.

This puts Kim into an immediate tailspin. As she puts it:

My career is doing ad campaigns and photo shoots. People don’t understand the pressure on me to be perfect.

Leading a slower paced life without a lot of travel for Kim is “just not possible”!

Calm down Kim. Psoriasis is not the end of the world. There are many treatment options for you (see below). And besides, haven’t you ever heard of Photoshop?

Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. You usually get them on your elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms and feet, but they can show up on other parts of your body. Psoriasis is fairly common; it affects greater than 3 percent of the United States population, or more than 5 million adults.

About 30 percent of those with psoriasis experience joint inflammation that produces symptoms of arthritis. This condition is called psoriatic arthritis. Pro-golfer Phil Mickelson was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis about a year ago.

Psoriasis is caused by a problem in the immune system. In a process called cell turnover, skin cells that grow deep in your skin rise to the surface. Normally, this takes a month. In psoriasis, it happens in just days because the cells rise too fast.

People with psoriasis may notice that there are times when their skin worsens, called flares, then improves. Conditions that may cause flares include infections, stress, and changes in climate that dry the skin. Also, certain medicines, including beta-blockers, which are prescribed for high blood pressure, and lithium may trigger an outbreak or worsen the disease.

Doctors use a 3-step approach to treat psoriasis:

  1. Medicines are applied to the skin (topical treatment). Ointments or creams applied directly to the skin. These include corticosteroids, vitamin D3, retinoids, coal tar or anthralin.
  2. Light treatments (phototherapy). Both natural light from the sun and artificial ultraviolet light can reduce symptoms. Light therapy should be administered by a doctor, since spending time in the sun or a tanning bed can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer. Frequently topical treatment is combined with light treatment.
  3. Taking medicines by mouth or injection that treat the whole immune system (called systemic therapy).

Since discovering that inflammation in psoriasis is triggered by  a specific kind of immune cell called T cells, researchers have been studying new treatments that quiet immune system reactions in the skin. Among these are treatments that block the activity of T cells or block cytokines (proteins that promote inflammation).

For more information about psoriasis, click here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.

I’m sure some of you have experience with psoriasis.

  • How do you deal with it?
  • How has it changed your lifestyle?


Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.


  1. mom of one

    July 27, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I realize that everyone thinks Kim is being dramatic about her diagnosis but as a mother of a teenage boy who has severe psoriasis along with psoriatic arthritis that has forced him to wear a brace and walk with a cane (from first symptoms to cane was 7 months), I understand her reaction. If it worsens she has nothing to look forward to except for toxic immunosuppressant drugs which will harm her body.

    Psoriasis is not just a common skin rash, it can be a destroyer of life.

    • Dr. M

      July 27, 2011 at 7:15 pm

      You are correct, psoriatic arthritis can be very debilitating. Fortunately, at least so far for Kim, she doesn ‘t appear to have any joint involvement, only skin. And the odds are in her favor as only 30% of people with skin involvement will also have joint problems.
      Best of luck to you and your son and thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure there are others out there with the same issues.

    • Anyoli

      September 15, 2011 at 9:03 pm

      Hey I’m 16 and a girl. The first time i got this was 2 months ago, they were really big and purple… I’ve never gotten this type of thing and i was worried sick. The doctor gave me a prescription called Verdoso.. it made it go away and i have no marks, but now i can see really red- small dots on my legs again. I don’t want it to come back even though i know it not cure able, but my insurance doesn’t cover the product anymore so my mother can’t get it for me. The only place this did not affect me was my face, the rest of my body was covered completely.

      • Dr. M

        September 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm

        Psoriasis can be quite debilitating, if not always physically, then definitely emotionally. It’s tough to have a rash that others may wrongly see as “something contagious.” There are a variety of treatment options for you, and I’m sure some of them will be covered by your insurance. Best wishes.

  2. Sherry

    August 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    I hate to say it but Kim Kardashian does have cause for concern and she is not over reacting. If a painter looses his sight or a cook loose sense of taste does it not affect his livelyhood.

    If Kim gets psoriasis on her face it will affect her livelyhood. Just because she is pretty and has money does she not have the cause for concern. She understands what it will do to her career because her job is looking flawless.

    I understand that only 30% are affect by the debilitating affects of Psoriatic Authritis .. but in her case just skin is enough to change her life. Yes maybe she can do something else but that does not mean she wants to and it is ok to be upset.

    If someone took your ability to practice medicine you would be upset also in that moment. So she has the right to be upset and the fact that she openly shared the moment she was diagnosed means she is real with really problems. She should be applauded!

    If and when my children are diagnosed with Psoriasis. I will come home and weep(when away from them) because I understand where it can lead and how people look at you. So kim kardashian understands the affect and her reaction are justified.

    • Dr. M

      August 3, 2011 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks for your input Sherry. It’s so important to look at all sides of an issue. Certainly, Kim has the right to feel upset, but we also wanted to point out that there are treatment options, and that many, including celebrities such as LeAnn Rhimes and Stacy London, have the disease and are still able to work in Hollywood.

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