Jonathan Van Ness shares his psorasis experiences to help others with the condition feel understood. (Shutterstock)
Jonathan Van Ness is an Emmy-nominated television personality, New York Times bestselling author, star of Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” activist, hairstylist, and host of the podcast “Getting Curious.” He also has psoriasis. The star has been open about his diagnosis for the past few years — in 2018, he shared an unretouched Instagram photo with followers showing psoriasis on his legs and torso.
“I got a little scratch and that triggered my flare-up. It threw everyone for a loop, because initially, it made my doctor think I had a bacterial infection or maybe I was allergic to something,” Van Ness, who is 34, told Parade. He was 23 at the time that he first noticed symptoms.
“It took me a good six weeks, give or take, to figure out what it was exactly,” Van Ness shared on Cyndi Lauper’s podcast. “I had it misdiagnosed a couple times before I found a dermatologist that was like, ‘Oh, that’s psoriasis.’”
Lauper, who was diagnosed with psoriasis in 2010 in her late 50s, recalled noticing that something was wrong with her scalp while on tour in Spain. Lauper initially believed she had lice. It wasn’t until she saw a dermatologist specializing in hair that Lauper’s psoriasis diagnosis was confirmed.
This is not an uncommon occurrence: Diagnostic delays are common in those seeking an explanation for their symptoms.
For both Van Ness and Lauper, one of the most important parts of their psoriasis experiences has been learning to identify their triggers. “No one knows why we have it,” stated Van Ness. “So, I always say that it’s good to try to understand what your triggers are.”
Van Ness shared that eliminating hot yoga in favor of traditional yoga helped mitigate flares. He and Lauper both discussed experiencing flares in response to changes in weather (a common psoriasis trigger).
Van Ness and Lauper also discussed the emotional and social impacts of living with psoriasis. Lauper, who dyes her hair, shared that going to the salon was “always a traumatic experience,” despite her stylist’s reassurance that many of his other clients share the same condition. “People have their fingers in your hair,” said Lauper.
Like some with psoriasis, the two have tried, at times, to cover their psoriasis. When Van Ness was facing a particularly severe flare-up across his legs, he wore pants and leggings to hide the lesions. For a few days, however, the summer heat became so brutal that he no longer tried to hide it: “You’re getting my psoriasis truth, honey,” he recalled thinking. “These legs cannot be put away right now.”
Van Ness has used his experience with psoriasis to help reassure others with the condition that there is nothing wrong with them. “It’s something that millions of people have, and there’s nothing wrong with us because we have psoriasis,” he told Parade. “We’re still gorgeous and we’re still beautiful people.”
He captioned his much-discussed 2018 image that showed his psoriasis with, “Sickeningly Gorge, I left my psoriasis & my body unretouched, why should I dim my shine henny?”
“Sharing your story is healing, not just for yourself but for others,” Van Ness told Parade. “It’s knowing that my story can help other folks going through the same thing.”
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