Before Katie Lowes landed her role as Quinn Perkins in the political drama “Scandal,” she played Tina in the film “Super 8.” Who was Tina? “Tina may have been the most fun I ever had on a set,” Lowes recalled. “I played the girl with her hair in curlers who ran through a cave and got eaten by the monster.”
That was in 2011. Around that time, Lowes almost got eaten by another monster: psoriasis.
“I’d been struggling with psoriasis since I was about 28,” she said. “It was a happy time for me, because I was engaged and I got the role on ‘Scandal,’ but that made it a stressful time, too. I broke out with red, scaly patches on the back of my neck.”
Lowes was “100 percent freaking out” about wearing a swimsuit on a beach or taking a romantic vacation with her new husband. She didn’t want to go to the gym because she felt “super gross.” And she certainly didn’t want anyone in Hollywood to know.
“I felt embarrassment and shame, and I wanted to hide,” she said. “I spent six months living in denial. I self-medicated, even as my psoriasis grew and changed.”
Though she said she was “overwhelmed” when she finally got the diagnosis of psoriasis, it was the turning point she needed.
Seven years later, Lowes is a star on a long-running, hugely-popular TV show. She’s married to actor Adam Shapiro, and she’s taken control of her life with psoriasis. She’s also sharing her experience and helping others as the spokeswoman for Psoriasis: The Inside Story (see sidebar). “I’m inspiring people,” she said, “and they’re inspiring me!”
Figuring out psoriasis and fighting back
Because Lowes cites stress, diet and weather as factors that affect her psoriasis, she tries to keep her mind, body and spirit in balance. “My flare-ups were attuned to times when I was stressed and eating garbage. I worked with a doctor to find a treatment that could get my symptoms under control,” she said. “I changed my diet so it wasn’t sugar-based. I work out first thing — yoga, Pilates, lots of deep breathing — because if I don’t work out first thing, it ain’t gonna happen!”
Embarking on her mission to speak out about psoriasis has also been helpful. “Not only have I felt less stress, I feel so good! So many people have reached out to me on a daily basis — people with psoriasis, and people with family or friends with psoriasis. I don’t feel alone. No one should.”
A message for the newly diagnosed
Lowes has some lessons to share with people who are just beginning their psoriasis treatment journey — lessons she learned the hard way. “I’d encourage people to find a doctor they can trust, not someone who gives you five minutes. Find a doctor you can share your dreams and goals with,” she said.
“You have to empower yourself to be your own best advocate. Don’t do what I did, living in silence and depression for months on end. You can get to a better place.”
Katie Lowes is the spokeswoman for Psoriasis: The Inside Story, which aims to shine a light on the profound impact that psoriasis has on the lives of more than 8 million Americans. The campaign, which was launched by pharmaceutical company Janssen Biotech, offers a mix of personal perspectives from advocates like Lowes, as well as lifestyle tips addressing the areas that dramatically affect those with psoriasis: staying active, traveling and being in a relationship.
In a March 2017 interview with People.com, Lowes said, “If I can inspire even one person to push themselves to find a doctor that works for them, find a treatment that works for them, and to get their day-to-day life in a place that they can be proud of, then I will lay my head on the pillow with a big fat smile on it.”
The opinions expressed by NPF Blog contributors are their own and do not reflect the opinions or positions of the National Psoriasis Foundation. The information posted on the NPF Blog is not intended as, and is not, a substitute for professional medical advice.
Driving Discovery, Creating Community
This year, we’re celebrating 50 years of driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. See how far we’ve come with this timeline of NPF’s history. But there’s still plenty to do, and we can’t do it without you! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funding to promote research into better treatments and a cure by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or even create your own DIY event. Contact our Patient Navigation Center for free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today! Together, we will find a cure.