Country singer LeAnn Rimes has two Grammy Awards, numerous platinum and gold albums, a catalog of chart-topping songs and thousands of fans. The acclaimed star also has something that's not so glamorous: severe psoriasis.
Rimes was diagnosed with the skin disease when she was only 2. Her condition worsened throughout her childhood until, at one point, her body was 80 percent covered with lesions, including her hands, feet and midsection.
At the same time in her young life, Rimes was becoming a star, recording her first album at age 10. Her second album, Blue, went on to sell 6 million copies in the U.S. and garnered her a Grammy when she was just 13.
"As I became a performer, I went to great lengths to hide my psoriasis," said Rimes, now 26. To raise awareness about the disease, Rimes is leading a nationwide campaign, "Stop Hiding from Psoriasis," encouraging people with psoriasis to talk with their dermatologist about the impact of the disease.
She remembers times when she was so uncomfortable showing her skin that she wore two pairs of pantyhose on stage, only long dresses to award shows and jeans for appearances even in the summer heat.
Because Rimes was in the public spotlight, she endured many aggressive regimens — tar treatments, cyclosporine, methotrexate — to try to get clear. "Performing onstage when I was experiencing a flare was difficult," Rimes said. "My skin would crack and bleed, causing pain and discomfort."
Though she enjoyed a successful career and was admired worldwide, Rimes's self-esteem suffered because of her psoriasis. She felt ashamed and lost confidence in her appearance. People often stared when Rimes was in public, not only because she was famous, but also because her psoriasis was so severe. "I wanted to say to those people, and to anyone else, 'Stop staring! Treat us like you would treat any other human being.'"