Interview: Jon Lovitz Talks About His Psoriasis
Psoriasis for Jon Lovitz started simply as a few red spots on his body that looked like a rash. The lesions, he said during a recent phone interview, quickly multiplied until they became red, inflamed patches of itchy skin covering more than half of his body.
The comedic actor and former "Saturday Night Live" personality sought out a dermatologist, who diagnosed him with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.
"I didn't know anything about psoriasis (before I was diagnosed) except the 'Heartbreak of Psoriasis' commercial. I didn't know what it was, so I'm just glad it wasn't something worse!" Lovitz said in his distinctively acerbic style.
In 2003, his body erupted with lesions. At its worst, his skin was 75 percent covered with psoriasis. "I was horribly itchy, bleeding, cracking and flaking all over my knees, legs, hands, buttocks and even my head."
Living with psoriasis in the public spotlight wasn't easy. Like many people with psoriasis, Lovitz felt the physical and emotional burden of his disease and often went to great lengths to hide it, even putting makeup on his elbows to cover the lesions. Though he felt most comfortable in his Los Angeles-based stand-up comedy club—aptly named the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club—he often wore long-sleeved shirts on stage.
He also endured a series of aggressive treatment regimens and tried many biologic drugs to clear his skin.
"At first, other treatments worked, but then they stopped for me," he said. After 11 years dealing with psoriasis, Lovitz says his skin is now completely clear. He started on a new biologic drug last March. By May, his psoriasis had cleared.
Lovitz's clear skin and candid relationship with his dermatologist gave him the strength to stop covering up and "go public" with his condition.
"I wanted to do something to help people with psoriasis, considering how fortunate I feel to have gotten mine under control. I don't make fun of psoriasis, but I make fun of myself," Lovitz said of the comical public service announcement (PSA) and song parody he wrote and produced for the "Are You Serious?™" awareness campaign. "Humor is most effective for me."
The PSA and the song parody, though funny, deliver the important message that psoriasis is a serious disease and that people with the disease can benefit by getting medical help.
Lovitz has this advice for people living with psoriasis: "Don't be embarrassed. See a dermatologist. A lot of people with psoriasis give up, but don't. Find out what works best for you."