By the time she was 6, psoriasis covered 80 percent of her body, says the singer, describing a deep sense of isolation.
"Kids didn't want to hang out with me or touch me," Rimes, 26, says. "I remember being called 'Scaly Girl,' and never ever wanting to go out in a bathing suit."
For years, she tried all sorts of remedies.
"The craziest treatment I did was one where they put coal tar all over your body and wrap you in Saran Wrap," she admits. "I would have panic attacks; it became very claustrophobic."
Though Rimes was diagnosed with the chronic autoimmune disease at age 2, she didn't reveal she had been hiding her condition until this September, when she shared her experience in a PSA on behalf of the Stop Hiding campaign, sponsored by the American Academy of Dermatology and the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Symptom Free & Bikini ReadyThe good news: Rimes hasn't had a flare up in five years, thanks to a few changes.
"I found great medication and a great doctor and began really living a healthy lifestyle," says Rimes.
And better yet? The girl who once hated bathing suits felt confident enough to show off her fabulous body in a teeny two-piece for last March's cover of Fitness magazine.
"I never ever thought I would do that in my entire life," says Rimes. "It was one of the highlights of my life to think, Oh my god, I can't believe that's me."
She adds: "To feel vibrant, to feel like a woman, to want to show off that I have clear skin, it's the happiest day of my life."