Kim Kardashian candidly shared what it’s like to go through a psoriasis flare-up in a recent series of videos on her Instagram Stories. In them, she showed an up close look at a patch of red, raw skin on her shin.
“How crazy is my psoriasis right now guys? It’s like all up my leg. I don’t know what’s happening. But I gotta figure this out,” she said in one video. The text over the clip read, “Not gonna lie this is painful. Not sure what my triggers are. I haven’t changed my diet. I’ve tried everything! Psoriasis sucks.”
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes patches of scaly, inflamed skin to develop on the scalp, elbows, knees, and other parts of the body. A person with the condition has an overactive immune system that causes skin cells to multiply rapidly. The resulting symptoms can look pink to red with silvery scales in folks with fairer complexions, and violet or dark brown with grayish scales in those with deeper skin tones. Psoriasis symptoms tend to occur in cycles: They flare up for a few weeks to months and that’s usually followed by a period of remission.
The things that can trigger a psoriasis flare-up are highly individualized, but some known factors that can aggravate the condition include intense stress, infections, very cold and dry weather, skin injuries, and certain medications, among others. But it can be really hard to know what, exactly, spurs each flare, Ife J. Rodney, MD, founding director of Eternal Dermatology + Aesthetics and professor of dermatology at George Washington University, tells SELF.
“It is very, very common with a lot of these inflammatory skin conditions—whether psoriasis, eczema, or rosacea—to not figure out the exact triggers,” Dr. Rodney says. That can make flare-ups frustratingly hard to predict, she adds.
Kardashian has been open about her psoriasis in the past, as well as the emotional toll that comes along with it. In 2022, she told Poosh that eating a plant-based diet has helped her manage her symptoms (though the science on this is shaky—and, again, this is highly individualized); she cares for her flare-ups with lots of moisturizer and ointment too. (Last week, she also made headlines for sharing that she uses a tanning bed when her psoriasis worsens—a method that dermatologists spoke out against due to its risks.)
If you’re in the same boat and can’t figure out why your skin is freaking out, Dr. Rodney recommends doing your best to look back and try to identify any changes in your routine in the lead-up to your symptoms, including what you ate and drank, whether you had any illnesses, and what your stress levels were like. “See if you notice any trends,” she says. “But sometimes there is no noticeable trigger. Sometimes it’s just the nature of these conditions.”
Meanwhile, Kardashian is trying to find the humor in it all: “Am I tripping or is my psoriasis in the shape of a heart?” she said in one of the videos. “I totally see it…. Lucky me, I have a heart-shaped psoriasis for Valentine’s Day.”