To get “a little bit of relief,” Kardashian says as she unwraps her leg that she applies a cream (though what type of cream we’re not sure) to the irritated area, shrouds it in plastic wrap, sleeps in it, then rubs the excess cream in after. “This is one time, and you saw how crazy and dark the spot was, and look at how much better it is — that’s overnight. One time Saran-wrapping it. Is that not insane?” she rhapsodizes. “And my little heart-shaped psoriasis is still there, but one night of intense cream, just Saran-wrapped, changes everything. I mean, it’s obviously still there, but the intense itching goes away.”
So what is it about Kim Kardashian’s plastic wrap psoriasis-relieving method that is so seemingly effective? We talked to dermatologists to determine if this at-home approach is as safe and efficacious as it appears.
Before letting your expectations levitate a little too high, it’s important to understand what you’re dealing with when you’re faced with a psoriasis flare-up. The barrier is impaired in skin that’s affected by psoriasis, which can lead to dryness and itch. But that’s just scratching the surface, so to speak. “Psoriasis is not just dry skin that can be treated with moisturizers. It’s much more complicated than that,” says Hadley King, MD. “Psoriasis is a systemic, immune-mediated disorder, characterized by inflammatory skin and joint manifestations.” She adds that skin cells don’t mature properly and they keep proliferating, which is one of the reasons why the skin can become scaly and grow into thick plaques like Kardashian’s.
Does Kim K’s plastic wrap technique really work?
Kardashian is actually onto something by wrapping up her skin like leftovers. Using plastic wrap over a cream or other topical treatment on an area of skin is a form of occlusion therapy (the very method that makes sheet masks so effective).
“Occlusion therapy has been used for years in dermatology and involves covering a treated area of skin with a non-permeable plastic film to enhance the absorption of topical medications,” says De Anne Collier, MD, who explains that the wrap creates a barrier that traps moisture and heat, enhancing absorption. “In the case of psoriasis, this can increase the effectiveness of certain creams or ointments, as the absorption rate and the amount of active ingredients absorbed could be greatly increased.” Many times, this softens psoriasis scales and improves the red psoriasis patches at a faster rate.
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