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Psoriasis strikes Kim Kardashian, putting spotlight on skin disease

Kim Kardashian at the 2011 Grammy Awards.
Kim Kardashian was diagnosed with psoriasis on a recent episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians Jason Merritt/Getty Images

(CBS) Reality star Kim Kardashian is famous for her curves, but now the focus may be shifting to her skin. The 30 year-old was diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder, psoriasis.

Psoriasis: 6 common myths

In a recent episode of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," she visits her dermatologist Dr. Harold Lancer who quickly diagnoses her with psoriasis - joining more than 7.5 million Americans living with the disease.

Psoriasis is often mistaken for rash or ringworm, just as her sister Khloe had incorrectly guessed. There are five different types, but over 80 percent of people with psoriasis have plaque-type, which is characterized by red lesions covered by silvery-white scales that are found on the knees, elbows, scalp, and lower back.

"I've heard of it before because my mom has always had it," Kardashian said on her show.

And perhaps that's how Kardashian got it. According to a written statement from The National Psoriasis Foundation, the immune disease runs in families. Something triggers the immune system to speed up the body's skin cell growth - so instead of a skin cell taking 30 days to mature and fall off, it takes only four, resulting in the rash-like lesions.

The doctor tells Kardashian the disease can't be cured, but can be treated. Patients with psoriasis can use medication, creams, specialized shampoos, or phototherapy - exposing the skin to ultraviolet light. He recommends she should slow down her lifestyle since stress is a common trigger of psoriasis. Other triggers include diet, medications, cuts, scrapes, and allergies.

The immune-disease also increases the risk for developing other complications.

"Like millions of other Americans with psoriasis, Kim Kardashian is at increased risk for other serious health conditions associated with the disease, including heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and depression," reads the National Psoriasis Foundation statement.

The National Institutes of Health has more on psoriasis.

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