Photo Credit: Veronica Lopez
Veronica Lopez is a bilingual singer, songwriter and actress living in Las Vegas with her husband and four children.
“Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way”
Psoriasis can be difficult for anyone, but for singer and actress Veronica Lopez, it could have ended a career she loves. “People are critical,” says Lopez. “When you’re on stage performing, the audience may not even listen to you because they’re looking at your skin. Psoriasis can take the attention away from your talent.” But Lopez had an indomitable lemons-to-lemonade spirit. Having to look good on stage while battling psoriasis brought out another creative side in her; she started designing her own clothes in comfortable fabrics and styles that covered the psoriasis on her arms, legs, and back. “I felt ready to go on stage as long as I wore something that I designed,” says Lopez. “I would use soft, lightweight fabrics and dresses with bell shaped sleeves made of sheer printed materials that camouflaged the psoriasis on my arms while still being cool in the hot weather. Those bell sleeves became my signature look for a while and people would compliment me on my designs. Where there’s a will there’s a way.“
The Path to Wellness
Lopez remembers having psoriasis as far back as age seven, when she had flaky skin behind her ears and along her hairline, but she wasn’t diagnosed with the condition until she was 13. Bumps of psoriasis appeared on her stomach, elbows and behind her knees, eventually spreading to patches on her legs, arms and back. Over the years, she tried everything from light therapy and topical creams to unusual home remedies, including cigarette ash, rattlesnake venom, vitamins, sea water and intestinal cleansing tablets. “Nothing worked for me until I convinced my dermatologist to let me try the new biologic medications,” says Lopez. “I’ve been on medication for two years and it has given me my life back. The psoriasis is not completely gone; I still have tiny dots on my legs, but if this is as good as it’s going to get, I’m fine with it. I don’t have to think about what I’m going to put on anymore. I can wear pretty much anything, even a short dress with nylons and heels. I don’t feel embarrassed anymore.”
In recent years, Lopez has added another title to her already crowded resume: psoriasis patient advocate. “I’m passionate about helping others with psoriasis because, especially in the Hispanic community, there isn’t much education on it. I look forward to people asking me what it is because I want to talk about it. I want people to know this isn’t contagious, and it isn’t due to poor hygiene, two common misconceptions. I keep pamphlets in my car about the disease in English and in Spanish that I got from the National Psoriasis Foundation. I’ve given them to people in my nail salon and elsewhere where people have asked me about my skin. Now if someone else with psoriasis goes into that salon, the staff will already be knowledgeable and that person won’t have to be embarrassed.”
Lopez’s advice to people who are newly diagnosed with psoriasis is to learn as much as you can about the condition and then teach those around you about it, too. “Be your own advocate. Be bold for yourself,” says Lopez. “The doctors have a lot of patients and have limited time for you. You’ve got to be the one to take the time and help yourself. Above all, hang in there. People can get very depressed about their psoriasis. As painful as the disease is physically, the emotional hurt is even worse. It’s the looks and the stares. You want to be normal. Psoriasis is not who you are inside. By becoming your own advocate and helping to educate others, you can find peace.”