What do Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner and Cara Delevingne all have in common? They all suffer from psoriasis. And they are not alone. In fact, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, over eight million Americans suffer from it, too. But what exactly is it and how do you treat it? Here’s what you need to know about this chronic, but manageable, condition.

Psoriasis: what exactly is it?

Unlike conventional skin issues, such as acne or hyperpigmentation, psoriasis is actually an autoimmune disease, and is not contagious. It accelerates skin cell growth, causing red, itchy, scaly rashes on the skin. It tends to flare up in times of stress, injury, sickness or periods of cold. Many people also have triggers, such as some medications and even the consumption of alcohol. Psoriasis can occur in cycles, with flare-ups lasting sometimes for weeks or months at a time before subsiding into remission.

Psoriasis

credit: @kimkardashian

There are various different types of psoriasis, but the most common is called plaque psoriasis. This variant leads to inflamed, red, itchy skin with silvery, dry scales. Areas on the body that are most prone to outbreaks are the scalp, elbows, knees and torso, but rashes can develop anywhere. While there is no cure for this condition, there are ways to manage and reduce the discomfort associated with it.

Treat yourself

If you have a mild case of psoriasis, applying a thick, nourishing cream or petroleum jelly after a shower can help to lock in some much-needed moisture. Alternatively, you can consult with a dermatologist regarding treatment options for more severe cases. These usually come in the form of topical ointments that reduce inflammation and smooth-out your skin. Another increasingly popular option is UV-light therapy, which has been shown to provide relief to itchy, flakey patients.

If you find that your flare-ups are linked to your stress levels, try incorporating some time for relaxation into your routine. Whether it’s doing some simple breathing exercises or going for a massage, ensuring that you are taking care of yourself from the inside can help to diminish symptoms on the outside.