Children and Youth With Psoriasis (Pediatric Psoriasis)
Approximately 1% of children are diagnosed with psoriasis although it is widely believed that number is underestimated. It’s often assumed that children with only mild symptoms forgo medical assistance or are misdiagnosed, as psoriasis can sometimes be confused with eczema or diaper rash in children.
Psoriasis can present itself in children between the ages of 7 and 11 years old. It’s likely that children diagnosed with psoriasis have a parent or sibling with the disease but it’s still possible for people with no family history to develop it. Though the rate of infection is low, the impact can be quite high, both physically and mentally.
Types of Psoriasis in Children
Pediatric psoriasis may be associated with emotional stress, injury to the skin, and second-hand cigarette smoke. Psoriasis in children is also commonly diagnosed following an infection or viral illness, specifically strep throat. Children might also experience a flare up after an earache, bronchitis, tonsillitis or respiratory infection.
When first diagnosed, your child’s physician is likely to ask you about your family habits and history to determine the risks factors your child may have. Then you, your child, and their physician will work together to determine the best course of treatment for them.
Some common forms of treatment for children are topicals such as anthralin, corticosteroids, coal tar and calcipotriene. These can be found in the form of creams, lotions or ointments. Your child’s physician may recommend phototherapy or oral medications if they don’t respond well to topical treatments.
Beyond the Physical
Whether your child is newly diagnosed or has had psoriasis for a while, living with it can be challenging for both you and your child. For some, it may only be a minor inconvenience but for others, it can be much more concerning. The emotional impact of psoriasis doesn’t always depend on the severity of it but of the person’s feelings towards the disease and their symptoms. Children with psoriasis have increased risk of developing self-esteem issues, anxiety, depression and substance abuse as they age. They may experience feelings of shame and isolation or be bullied by their peers.
Psoriatic disease can affect the whole family. As a parent or caregiver, feelings of worry, concern and frustration can be common. In addition to the emotional impacts of psoriasis, you may also be dealing with costly and time-consuming treatments that can place a financial burden on you and your family.
It’s important to work with your child’s physician to not only manage their psoriasis, but to offset any negative psychological impacts that psoriasis may cause. In addition, there are many other resources out there to help you and your child deal with emotional concerns. Your child’s physician may recommend working with a therapist or joining a support group.
2011, Quality of Life: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22101138/
2018, Quality of Life: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29984848/