ARI & LOUISE
"I was in my 30s when out of the blue I started getting these patches on my skin and they would be really itchy," Beauvais, 55, tells PEOPLE. "I didn't know what it was — like, 'Did something bite me?' It just kept coming up in different places, and the more I stressed about it, the more they'd come out. I didn't know what to do."
Beauvais was eventually diagnosed with eczema — a chronic inflammatory skin disorder which affects more than 31 million Americans and can be exacerbated by stress, environmental factors and allergens.
Over the years, the actress, best known for roles on NYPD Blue and The Jamie Foxx Show, found ways to mitigate her condition, although a recent flare-up last summer proved to be exceedingly painful.
"I started getting the patches behind my knees and I wanted to crawl out of my skin because it's so irritating," she says. "I didn't want to wear halter tops or shorts because you could see the dry, itchy patches."
These days, Beauvais tries to stay away from scented lotions, perfumes and her beloved hot baths, though sometimes the stress of a drama-filled reality show is unavoidable.
"Oh, I always have breakouts during filming Housewives!" she says with a laugh. "But I manage it as best as I can. I have to pick my battles!"