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‘Scandal’ Star Katie Lowes Opens Up About Her Private Battle With Psoriasis and How It Impacted Her Career

Plus, learn about her love for theater and how she balances her family life

Katie Lowes knew something wasn’t right when her scalp began irritating her and persistent red blotches began forming on her neck. The actress went to see a doctor who told her she had psoriasis, a skin disease that causes rashes and itchiness on the body.

According to the National Institutes of Health, psoriasis affects more than 6.7 million US adults, and when Lowes got her diagnosis, she was concerned about the impact it might have on her burgeoning career.

The year was 2010 and everything was coming up roses, or so she thought. Not only was deep into planning her wedding to fellow actor Adam Shapiro, but it was also when she got the call of a lifetime, and found out she had been cast on the new ABC political thriller Scandal.

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How Katie Lowes tried to cover up

What was supposed to be the most exciting and exhilarating time in Katie Lowes‘ life ended up being accompanied by many awkward “hide me” moments. “I was getting these ugly red patches on my body, which were embarrassing,” Lowes tells FIRST for Women. “I tried everything to hide them, such as wearing turtlenecks, because I was so uncomfortable letting anyone see my condition, especially in Hollywood where you are under the watchful eye of everyone.”

Katie Lowes with papers
Katie Lowes Lindsay Adler

Lowes took a cue from her spy character, Quinn Perkins, on Scandal and started strategically figuring out ways to be a public figure while hiding the truth so no one would find out. “My flare-ups or flare-downs played a big role in my wardrobe decisions,” she admits.

“My stylist always had to have back-up outfits for appearances, such as jackets and high-neck clothing, and then when my character on Scandal became a badass, I was thinking I’d have a ponytail but I had to rethink that too,” she says. “There were a lot of modifications made to accommodate what my symptoms were doing in the moment.” 

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Mental and emotional impact

“As soon as Scandal debuted, I heard we had a hit show on our hands,” Lowes recalls. “When I was standing on a red carpet next to my costar Tony Goldwyn and I heard girls screaming like he was one of the Beatles, I knew we were onto something special and people were watching.”

It was at that moment Lowes became even more self-conscious about her diagnosis and grew terrified of what people might think if they find out. Back home, she shared her private thoughts with Shapiro, who she says became the strong support system she needed when she was feeling down.

woman with on air mic; katie lowes
Katie Lowes strikes a retro poseLindsay Adler

“Adam knows how to make lemonade out of lemons,” Lowes says of her husband. “Not only did he get me to laugh, but he was by my side when I was trying different lotions recommended by the dermatologist. He also helped me apply the medicine and take pictures in places I could not see or reach for the doctor to review. He was so wonderful.”

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Katie Lowes takes charge

When Lowes heard about AbbVie’s Clearly Me Campaign, a photo exhibit highlighting those with the condition, she knew she had to get involved. “Once you can get over the mountain of humiliation and shame, you have the ability to become empowered and that’s the message I want to spread,” she says.

woman posed in front of backdrop
Katie Lowes at the “Clearly Me” EventAssociated Press

The actress has been sharing her journey with her fans, saying that you have to carve out time to make finding the right treatment a priority, as well as locating the best doctors and care, so you can feel like the best version of yourself.

“I can’t hide it and I no longer want to hide it,” Lowes says emphatically. “In fact, I now walk into fittings where I want to talk about it, because I have a public platform where I can help others. This is 2024, no one is perfect and I can tell you, everyone has their stuff, whatever it may be.”

The thrill of a live audience

Lowes is also staying busy as an actress. Currently, she’s on location in Charlotte, North Carolina filming her latest series, The Hunting Wives with Chrissy Metz, Dermot Mulronney and Brittany Snow for Starz, but theater always was (and still is) her first love. “It’s what I trained to do,” Lowes says. “Being onstage and in front of a live audience gives me the most joy. It’s also where you get the most feedback, because it’s in real time.”

woman posed in front of curtain
Katie Lowes loves to be onstageLindsay Adler

The theater also holds a special place in Lowes’ heart because right after she and her husband first began dating, they formed the IAMA Theatre Company in Los Angeles and starred in the production of You Are Here in 2007.

“We’ve been doing theater together since we met,” Lowes says. “Working with him is like coming home.” Their hard work and dedication to their craft paid off. In 2018, the couple went on to star in the hit Broadway musical Waitress by Sara Bareilles.

Katie Lowes puts family first

Despite having successful careers that require them to constantly travel, Lowes says family always comes first, and she and Shapiro have created a balanced system to make it doable for everyone.

“Since we have a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old, if I’m on a job, Adam is home with the kids, and last year when he was filming overseas in Budapest and Hungary, I was with the kids,” she says. The trick to making it all run smoothly is being flexible by flip-flopping so someone is always home being #1.

woman resting head on hand
Katie Lowes is all smilesLindsay Adler

Lowes is also grateful to have a regular babysitter and family members she can rely on, since being on-set when you have young ones takes a village. “I’m not gonna lie, we have a non-traditional life where the kids get dropped off on the set, or I meet them at the airport,” she says with a laugh.

Lowes feels that the family has made it all work by rolling with the punches. “Our kids have become widely adaptable because they have had to be,” says Lowes. “Now Adam and I are scared they want to be actors,” she jokes.

Whether she’s getting real about her personal battles, lighting up the screen or stage, or being a devoted mom, Lowes has a gift for finding balance and positivity in all situations.

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