LeAnn Rimes is a Grammy, Tony, and Emmy award-winning country singer, actress, and author. She also has psoriasis. Diagnosed at age 2, the star rose to fame at 14 and has since performed many times while dealing with active psoriasis symptoms.
Now 39 years old, Rimes recently spoke with Tamron Hall about life as a performer with psoriasis. She also joined singer and activist Cyndi Lauper — who is living with psoriasis — on her podcast, “PsO in the Know With Cyndi Lauper,” to discuss their experiences.
On Cyndi Lauper’s podcast, Rimes described her early experiences with psoriasis. At the age of 6, she was in full flare — 80 percent of her body was affected by psoriasis. Her most recent flare in early 2020, she recalled, brought up many of the feelings she faced at that time: shame, emotional turmoil, and “having to be wrapped with Saran wrap and coal tar” for hours a day. “I can’t even touch Saran wrap,” Rimes joked to Lauper.
When appearing on “Tamron Hall,” Rimes explained the multifaceted emotional burden of living with psoriasis — both as a child and as a performer on tour. “Not only is it emotionally draining, it’s also incredibly physically draining juggling treatment with being out on the road performing 24/7. … It’s a lot of stress on anyone, but it was definitely a lot of stress on a child. And then, of course, that stress just kind of exacerbates the problem, so it becomes one big thing.”
Rimes, Lauper, and many others with psoriasis find that stress acts as a trigger for flare-ups. “My experience has been the more inflammation in my body, the bigger the flare,” Rimes told Hall. “And stress only causes inflammation and cortisol and everything to rise, and it kind of goes in one loop.”
Rimes also shared with Lauper that anger has played a key role in her psoriasis flare-ups — anger from the pain and emotional impacts of living with the skin condition. It is connecting with this emotion, she explained, that helps her cope with it: “It’s been really key for me, in my life, to get in touch with that anger. … You have to be able to find a way to express that.”
Though Rimes deals with unique stresses as a public figure, she believes everyone living with psoriasis shares similar feelings throughout their diagnosis. “All of the shame and all of the things that come with that mentally, emotionally, from having it so young,” she told Lauper, “it doesn’t matter when you’re diagnosed. I think all of the same feelings come up for all of us, and it can be so frustrating.”
“I still struggle with all that internal dialogue,” Rimes admitted to Hall. “But for me, it’s self-love. … That’s been my way to healing — really, pure self-acceptance.”
Managing anxiety has also been key to living with psoriasis, she told Lauper. “I have learned to work with my anxiety more, and I think that’s a huge part of my own healing journey in having psoriasis. … I think it’s all tied into one another.”
When Hall asked Rimes how she manages stress, Rimes explained that it’s about “learning to say ‘No’ in a world where everybody wants you to say ‘Yes.’” She also shared that she practices meditation and focuses on eating a balanced diet.
“That’s part of it,” Rimes explained to Lauper on her podcast. “Our own journey with psoriasis is to try to find what works for us, and it’s so different from each and every person — it’s such a multilayered thing.”
Ultimately, Rimes shared with Lauper, “I do think we have to accept that [psoriasis] is a part of our life, and I think once we accept this is who we are … in the totality of who we are, it’s just a piece of us; it doesn’t have to rule us.”
One of the most valuable lessons Rimes has learned throughout her journey with psoriasis, she has shared, is being open about her condition with others.
“I think one of my triggers that I’ve really discovered lately is if I’m holding my experience in,” she told Lauper. Finding a way to express herself, she explained, “is my journey at the moment.”
On World Psoriasis Day 2020, Rimes shared photos of herself during a flare-up to her Instagram — the first she’d had in 16 years. Though she had been taking a biologic for years and had remained clear for two years after stopping the medication, the stress and tumult of the pandemic caused her symptoms to return.
Rimes’ photos were greeted with an outpouring of support and gratitude. Inspired by her photos, fans started posting their own photos showing their psoriasis. One fan even came up to her and hugged her, saying that Rimes sharing her journey with psoriasis helped her with her own. “Being able to connect with people in that way,” Rimes told Hall, “it’s so beautiful. It’s such a gift.”
Oftentimes with psoriasis, Rimes stated, “You feel isolated. You feel alone. But by sharing my story, I recognized how connected we all are and how loving people are.”
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