Cyndi Lauper is stepping into the spotlight with some embarrassing details about her personal life and health. Lauper hopes that her own story will help other people who may be suffering with the same disease she has kept secret for most of her career.
Cyndi Lauper has psoriasis. At its worst, she said she could hardly perform or go out in public.
Her skin flaked off so badly during her onstage shows that she started wearing a mesh body suit under her clothes. "When I took it off, it was like 'Ugh,'" she says. "The people I was working with would look at me and say, 'That looks like it hurts.'"
"It was so bad, I felt like the Elephant Man," says Lauper.
The whole thing seemed fairly simple when it started, Lauper recalls.
"First, I thought I just had a really bad bleach job," Lauper says. "I am a suicide blonde after all."
So she got a special shampoo from a dermatologist. But her troubles did not end there.
"My whole entire body was covered in a rash and scaly skin. And then it just stared creeping up my neck. I felt swallowed by it. My immune system got a little wacky, and it took my strength away," says Lauper. "My skin was so inflamed, it could not regulate hot and cold, so I had the chills all the time."
Cyndi Lauper used her flamboyant public image to help hide her condition.
"I dyed my hair red, put extensions in and then I just wore a wig so I wouldn't have to mess with my scalp too much," Lauper said. "It really started to hurt."
— Psoriasis Foundation (@NPF) July 28, 2015
But things got so bad that eventually she had to nearly cover herself entirely.
"I just kept wearing higher-necked clothes, turtlenecks and long sleeves," she says. "I looked like a nun. It's not an attractive look. I like to wear tight clothes so what am I gonna do, wear a potato sack? No. I lost it. I stopped singing for a while. I felt depressed and I felt horrible."
Lauper's message to other psoriasis sufferers is simple:
"You don't have to suffer in silence or live in pain," says Lauper. "It's not just a rash. It's a disease."
"I'm not alone. There are 7.5 million Americans with this. Find a doctor who specializes in psoriasis and find a treatment. Find what works for you. You gotta keep going because if not, you'll end up on your butt like I was."
"I don't want anyone to be a silent psoriasis sufferer," she says. "You can't just lay in the dark and get depressed and feel like the disease has won. You can win, just get the information and get help – because suffering in silence really sucks."
— Novartis (@Novartis) July 28, 2015