Style expert and host of TLC's What Not to Wear Stacy London is known for her impeccable fashion advice; however, what's lesser known is that her sense of style stemmed from her struggle with psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that causes redness, irritation, scaly patches and thick, flaky lesions to form on the skin and scalp. In her best-selling book, The Truth About Style, Stacy reveals how psoriasis severely undermined her self-image as a child but ultimately helped her on her road to becoming a fashion icon.
"I was diagnosed at the age of four with psoriasis, and I never felt 'OK,'" Stacy says. "Being that young and being diagnosed with a disease — a chronic lifetime disease — made me feel very different, very early on. By the time I was 11, I was covered in red scales from my neck down."
Stacy recalls having to shave her head to help treat the thick scaly patches on her scalp, as well as being teased and tormented at school. "I really am so empathetic to people who suffer from all sorts of autoimmune diseases, because they're so tricky. They present themselves in so many different ways. Not only are there so many different permutations of the diseases themselves, [but] every person is different and every person is going to have a different kind of reaction," she says.
There are five major types of psoriasis, with varying degrees of severity. While there is no cure for the autoimmune condition, it can be managed with topical creams, phototherapy and systemic medications, administered either orally or via injections.
To help empower others living with psoriasis, Stacy partnered with AbbVie — a global biopharmaceutical company focused on developing treatments and cures for the world's biggest health challenges — to create the Uncover Your Confidence campaign. "A lot of people who get this disease are so challenged, psychologically and emotionally. It's not life-threatening, but it is so emotionally disabling," Stacy explains. "It's really important to find the right care, but also to empower yourself by not thinking that your skin or your disease defines you."