Cyndi Lauper shows her “True Colors” while dealing with an illness that causes severe pain

Cyndi Lauper shows her “True Colors” while dealing with an illness that causes severe pain

There’s something magical about the pixie-like Cyndi Lauper, whose 1983 hit song “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” became a universal anthem, inspiring women of all ages to do as the song suggests.

Lauper embodies cool. Her quirky, carefree character, whimsical fashion, and colourful hair, empowers people with the message of being yourself.

But, behind the cartoonish voice that sparks feel-good energy in her listeners, the artist struggles with a serious skin condition, psoriasis, which at one time was so aggressive that “It looked like someone threw boiling water on me.”

Cyndi Lauper at the Lhasa in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)

The legendary pop star, now 69, recently revealed her ongoing struggle with psoriasis–an incurable chronic skin condition–since she was diagnosed in 2010.

Psoriasis is a condition that can cause intense pain, itchiness, discomfort, and scaly patches. An estimated 8 million people in the U.S. and 125 million worldwide live with the skin disorder.

Lauper’s first experienced symptoms like scalp irritations and overall discomfort, which over time became worse.

At first, she attributed the itchy scalp to the frequent coloring of her hair, but the episodes continued, causing physical and emotional distress to the award-winning musician.

The “Time after Time” singer is a busy mother, touring popstar and activist.

A champion of human rights, a move inspired by her sister Ellen, who’s a lesbian, Lauper works tirelessly to support the LGBT community.

Cyndi Lauper, portrait, Hawaii, October 1986. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Her 2005 song “Above the Clouds,” was written for Matthew Shepard, a gay 21-year-old student who was beaten to death in Wyoming. She also founded the 2007-2008 concert tour, “True Colors,” that supports local and private LGBT charities and foundations.

In addition to her advocacy, Lauper has an impressive portfolio as a singer, songwriter and actor. In her career spanning four decades, Lauper earned numerous awards, including a Tony Award, two Grammy Awards, an MTV Music Video Award and an Emmy Award for her 1995 appearance in an episode of the TV sitcom, Mad About You.

She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is an inductee in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2013, for her humanitarian efforts, she was invited as a special guest to attend U.S. President Barrack Obama’s second inauguration.

Not letting the diagnosis slow her down, Lauper is a real force of power. Refusing to let psoriasis get the best of her, the True Colors singer is learning to manage stress, which can trigger a flare-up.

Wikipedia Commons / Glenn Francis

When she was diagnosed, and experiencing bouts of severe psoriasis, she wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway hit musical Kinky Boots, which earned her a Tony Award for Best Original Score. Lauper is the first woman to win a Tony–alone–in that category. The show also won five other Tony Awards, including Best New Musical.

Speaking with the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), Lauper speaks candidly on how she lives with the autoimmune skin condition, hoping to help others.

“I’ve never been able to really manage stress.” She said, adding that she’s taken a holistic approach to healing and relieving stress at home and on the road. She studied reiki, a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation, to which she said, “That helps me.”

In addition to reiki, Lauper makes a conscious effort to stay grounded with meditating, yoga, or a walk in the fresh air with her dog and/or husband, David Thornton, whom she married in 1991. The two have one son, who was born in 1997.


“It’s not a bad thing to take care of yourself,” Lauper said, encouraging people to always “make a little time for you.”

You can start small. “How about five minutes for you?” she added.

With a lot of resilience, Lauper explains that “when psoriasis gets really bad, it’s really hard to get up again,” There’s been times when she couldn’t regulate her body temperature, resulting in a chill, which can lead to hypothermia. Despite her resting, it only got worse and people doubting the severity of the condition, saying, “it’s just a rash,” added to the pain.

“You don’t have to suffer,” Lauper said. Treatments, either topical, oral medication or injections, are available to lessen the oftentimes unbearable effects of psoriasis. For Lauper, she found relief with Novartis’ Cosentyx, and as its spokesperson, she says she’s “four years clear.”


In 2017, Lauper spoke with HealthDay about how she manages psoriasis.

“It’s funny–you start wearing gloves, or this and that, hoping that [psoriasis] is invisible, but it’s not. I wasn’t wearing it like, ‘Woo-hoo, check this out!’ Doesn’t everyone hide it? You’d be surprised how many people have it and don’t talk about it. It’s one of those things that’s kind of invisible, so it’s good to talk about it.”

She talks about it in her podcast PsO in the Know, which features celebrities, advocates and everyday patients who offer some insight into living with psoriasis.

The show, now in its third season is available for download on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pandora and Stitcher.

Lauper isn’t the only celebrity living with psoriasis. Kim Kardashian, 42, was diagnosed when she was 30 and is open about her struggles. Her 67-year-old mom Kris Jenner, had her first outbreak in her late 20s and called it “life-changing.” A few other celebrities living with psoriasis include Musician Art Garfunkel, 81, actor Jon Lovitz, 65, and “The Beaver” or Jerry Mathers, 74.

We are so fortunate to have role models like Cyndi Lauper using her influence to help others overcome their challenges. She is such a brave woman and we can’t imagine a world without her talents, and journey, in it!

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