Psoriasis? Yeah, That’s the Ticket!

Jan 7, 2011 | Psoriasis? Yeah, That’s the Ticket! | Celebrity Health
Psoriasis? Yeah, That’s the Ticket!

image by: Neon Tommy

Former Saturday Night Live cast member Jon Lovitz is talking candidly for the first time about his struggles with psoriasis in a series of lighthearted PSA’s called “Are You Serious?”

These PSA’s are a collaborative effort between Centocor Ortho Biotech and the National Psoriasis Foundation.  They’re designed to illustrate the everyday challenges faced by people living with the disease. In his video, Lovitz parodies Maroon 5's hit “This Love” and puts into perspective the real-life impact of the disease with the lyrics “You may think I'm being rude/I'm just embarrassed to be nude/Psoriasis has taken its toll on me/It's come and gone, too many times before.” 

Lovitz, best known for his SNL roles, the Devil and Tommy Flanagan “the pathological liar”, has a psoriasis story similar to that of most sufferers.   About 10 years ago he noticed a few red spots on his body.  At first, he thought he might have a simple rash, but the spots multiplied and became red, inflamed, itchy patches of skin all over his back, stomach, arms and scalp.  Concerned, he went to a dermatologist and learned that he had severe plaque psoriasis.  

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that results in the overproduction of skin cells that causes a buildup on the surface of the skin.  While the exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, doctors believe that the immune system and genetics are contributing factors. Researchers believe that the immune system is mistakenly triggered causing the acceleration of skin cell growth. A normal skin cell matures and falls off the body in 28 to 30 days. A skin cell in a patient with psoriasis takes only 3 to 4 days to mature and instead of falling off, the cells pile up on the surface of the skin, forming painful, red, scaly patches that may bleed.  

Psoriasis affects more than 7 million Americans and nearly 25% of those have cases that are considered moderate to severe.  Psoriasis can occur at any age however, it's rarely seen in children under 10 years old.  The patches typically occur on the knees, elbows, and scalp but can also affect the torso, palms, and soles of the feet.  Psoriasis is not contagious yet it often causes embarrassment and shame for its sufferers.  A recent National Psoriasis Foundation survey shows that 73% of people with psoriasis felt self-conscious and 68% felt embarrassed because of their physical symptoms.  

Lovitz said he can identify with those statistics, “75% of my body was covered in psoriasis.  It was embarrassing, painful, and emotionally difficult to deal with until finally, I got serious about [it] and worked with my dermatologist.  I take this new treatment, one shot every three months, and it cleared up after like two months.  And I hope that through hearing my story, people with psoriasis will feel inspired to talk with a dermatologist and get their symptoms under control, too.” 

Psoriasis is an uncomfortable and, at times, disfiguring disease that can be difficult and frustrating to treat. And while there are medications that can help clear up the patches of red, scaly skin, there is no cure… yet.  To help further research and find a cure Centocor Ortho Biotech will donate one dollar to the National Psoriasis Foundation for the first 10,000 people who share the video of Lovitz’s song parody.  Go ahead, spread the word.

Stacy Matson, a health enthusiast from Southern California, regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of the Best.

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