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Cortisone shots to treat psoriasis? Kim Kardashian does it and you can too

Charlotte Hilton Andersen is the author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything and runs the popular health and fitness website of the same name, where she tries out a new workout every month, specializing...

Kim Kardashian has an explanation for the big dent in her butt

Not that you were asking, but in case you're curious: That dent in Kim K's butt is not from getting implants, but from getting cortisone shots in her rear to treat her psoriasis. In fact, she says that the cortisone shots might be the reason the whole butt implants rumor got started in the first place.

"There is a picture of me in Miami wearing an electric blue dress, and another picture of me walking down Robertson," she told the Daily Mail. "You see the indent. And I think that’s when the rumors started."

Of course I found the news about Kardashian's famous all-natural butt mildly interesting. I was super fascinated by hearing how she uses cortisone shots to help manage the chronic skin condition so many people suffer from.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder in which skin cells are triggered to multiply 10 times faster than normal, making piles of dead cells that turn into large, itchy, red, scaly patches on the skin, explains Tien Nguyen, M.D., a dermatologist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. Like other autoimmune disorders, it can lay dormant for months or even years before flaring up, often in times of stress. It appears that Kim's flare-ups are limited mainly to her legs, but you can get the patches anywhere, including on your scalp, palms and even face.

More: My psoriasis makes me feel like a reptile

A major myth about psoriasis, Nguyen says, is that it's contagious. "While the cause is still unknown, there seems to be a genetic predisposition and [it] can be triggered by the environment," he says. "It is not caused by an infectious agent, and it cannot be transmitted to others via contact."

While it's not contagious, it is quite common — 7.5 million people in the U.S. currently have it. Thankfully, it isn't deadly or seriously debilitating, but it can be painful both physically and emotionally for people who have to deal with the ugly rashes on a regular basis. Unfortunately, since the cause is unknown, we still don't have a cure for it, he adds. But there are plenty of treatments that can help and cortisone shots are a primary one.

Corticosteroids work against psoriasis in two ways — by reducing inflammation and by lowering the activity of the immune system. You can get them via pill, cream or injection but many sufferers choose the cortisone shot, like Kardashian, as it is the most fast-acting and comprehensive and the results can last for months.

The downside? Corticosteroids are powerful drugs and taking them on a regular basis can have serious side effects. Too much cortisone can lead to a weakened immune system, weight gain, fatigue, mood swings, insomnia and acne. Kardashian said she only gets an injection when she absolutely needs it — maybe once a year — and they aren't recommended more often than every three to four months. If you have flare-ups more often than that then you need to consider alternative treatments.

More: 7 psoriasis-friendly foods that you should be eating

Fortunately there are a lot of treatment options for psoriasis sufferers with several new treatments being recently developed. The National Psoriasis Foundation has a full list of the biologic, systemic, phototherapies, oral drugs, topical creams and even alternative treatment options that have been proven to work. It's important to try different things and talk to your doctor to find out what works best for you.

And if you do decide to use cortisone shots? At the very least, you and Kim Kardashian could have matching butt dimples.

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