Kim Kardashian West is known for looking flawless. But in a new post on her app, she’s speaking out about learning to live with psoriasis—a chronic autoimmune condition that’s responsible for the red, scaly patches that appear on the reality star’s legs.
“I don’t even really try to cover it that much anymore,” she writes. “Sometimes I just feel like it’s my big flaw and everyone knows about it, so why cover it?”
Kardashian West has been open about her struggles with psoriasis since she was diagnosed in 2010. She writes that an itchy rash first appeared on her legs after wearing a sequin dress, and her mother recognized the symptoms of psoriasis. (Sister Khloe, meanwhile, suspected ringworm.)
Her subsequent visit to the dermatologist, who confirmed her mother’s suspicions, was documented in a 2011 episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
At the time, her doctor told her that stress and travel could contribute to psoriasis flare-ups, and that the best thing she could do for her condition was to lead a slower-paced life. Citing her busy schedule and the pressure to always look perfect, the model and entrepreneur responded that doing so was “just not possible.”
Six years later, People reports, she has found ways keep her symptoms under control—and to make peace with the occasional flare-up. “After this many years, I’ve really learned to live with it,” Kardashian West wrote. "I'm always hoping for a cure, of course, but in the meantime, I'm learning to just accept it as part of who I am."
Psoriasis can be genetic, and about one-third of people who get it have a family history of the condition. That’s the case with the Kardashians: Mom Kris Jenner was diagnosed with psoriasis herself at age 30, reports the National Psoriasis Foundation, but it seems that Kim is the only daughter who has since inherited it.
The chronic condition can affect people of all ages, but it is most frequently diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 35. And Kardashian West’s doctor was right: In people who are genetically predisposed to psoriasis, stress—either emotional or physical—can trigger its onset.
"Sometimes the rashes are itchy, sometimes they're flaky," Kardashian West writes on her app. "Mine flares up from time to time for different reasons."
Prescription medications are available to help treat psoriasis, but most people have symptoms their entire lives. Some mild to moderate cases can be managed with lifestyle changes alone.
Kardashian West writes that avoiding acidic foods like tomatoes and eggplants, and applying a topical cortisone ointment every night before bed, help keep her symptoms to a minimum. (Tomatoes and eggplants, along with peppers and potatoes, are nightshade vegetables, which many people say make their psoriasis worse—although studies haven’t found a link between psoriasis symptoms and any specific food groups.)
Kardashian West certainly didn’t feel pressure to cover up at Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards. The mom of two showed off her curves—and plenty of skin—in a short, sheer, off-the-shoulder dress and strappy, lace-up sandals.