Cara Delevingne raises awareness for psoriasis - what can you do if you have it?

Yahoo Lifestyle

One of the worst health conditions a model can experience has to be a skin complaint such a psoriasis.

Sure there's always a heavy layer of make up available, but as Cara Delevingne discovered earlier this year, that's not always enough, and certainly does nothing to help the underlying condition.

The 21-year-old model experienced a flair up of the condition, which causes sores and dry patches on the skin, during the stress of Milan Fashion Week. She's even suggested she could give up runway modelling if it continues to stress out her skin.

Cara told the Mail, "Kate Moss saw me before the Louis Vuitton show at 3am when I was being painted by people to cover the scabs. She said 'This is horrible! Why is this happening? I need to help you.' She got me a doctor that afternoon."

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The condition is a non-contagious autoimmune disease whereby skin rapidly accumulates in patches on the body, causing a build up of dry, irritated and scaly skin. It affects two to three per cent of the population, but how can you tell you haven't just got dry skin or eczema?

Dr Nemesha Desai, Consultant Dermatologist at London Bridge Hospital explains:

"Psoriasis and eczema are both types of inflammation of the skin that result in redness and scaling. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between the two. Checking the pattern of skin involved, symptoms and family history will help make a correct diagnosis.

"Psoriasis often affects the outer elbows and front of the knees (although any area of skin can be involved). Areas of psoriasis have a very clear edge and a thick silvery scale. It is worth checking the nails, as they can be affected too.

Although psoriasis is occasionally itchy, this is more commonly a sign of eczema. Since both conditions are inherited it is useful to find out if any family members have either diagnosis."

She adds that it varies in severity and can even lead to hospitalisation.

What can you do?

There are three types of topical treatment for psoriasis:

Dithranol. An extract of bark from the Aroba tree grown in Brazil, is a highly effective therapy for psoriasis if applied correctly. Due to its high strength, it is best applied in a hospital setting by trained nurses
Coal Tar. Used for over a century to treat psoriasis, both in its natural form, applied by trained nurses, and in dilute forms in prescription creams and shampoos that can be bought over the counter
Vitamin D Creams. Available on prescription, these are not as messy as coal tar or dithranol and can be applied in the comfort of the home

Dr Desai also recommends a balanced, healthy lifestyle and diet and limited alcohol and stress as these can cause flare ups.

Cara's not the only celeb to suffer, in 2011 Kim Kardashian was distraught by experiencing psoriasis spots on her legs, and Leanne Rimes has talked about her struggles with the condition in the hope of raising awareness.

Cara has been talking about her future plans recently, suggesting her skin condition may lead her to look for a different career. She said: "I want to make music, I want to act and I want to sing. I want to do something that doesn’t make my skin erupt."