Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that affects all ages. It has different types, but certain types are more common in children. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, around 20,000 children of age 10 or younger are diagnosed with psoriasis in America every year.
This condition has no cure, but through suitable treatments, you can control its symptoms in children. Its effects can go deeper than the skin, and your child may feel less confident for being unusual. You can help him restore his lost confidence by teaching him the right ways to cope with this illness.
Let’s have a deeper look at psoriasis in children and understand how it can psychologically influence your child. We will also explain the best possible ways to help your child feel comfortable around others.
- What is Psoriasis in Children?
- At What Age Children May Develop It?
- Is Your Child at Risk of Developing Psoriasis?
- What are The Types of Psoriasis in Children?
- What are the Symptoms of Psoriasis in Children?
- How to Diagnose Psoriasis in Children?
- What are the Suitable Treatments for Psoriasis?
- Psoriasis Diet for Children
- How to Explain Psoriasis to Your Child?
- How Can a Child Explain It to His Friends?
- The Best Approach Among Teachers
- How Can a Child Deal With Psoriasis in Gym Class?
What is Psoriasis in Children?
Psoriasis is an immune-mediated illness in which your body’s immune system starts attacking normal skin cells. As a result, skin cells start developing abnormally. Thick patches start forming on the skin surface in different areas of the body.
These patches are called plaques and are uncomfortable, itchy, and scaly.
Psoriasis in children can be of any condition; mild, moderate to severe. Most children have its mild form. It is non-infectious; skin-to-skin or any other form of contact does not transfer it. Medications can manage psoriasis, but lifestyle also plays an important part.
Skin infection, high-stress level, obesity, cold/dry weather conditions, and sunburn can act as triggers and make psoriasis severe.
At What Age Children May Develop It?
Psoriasis has no age limit; it can develop at any age. A newborn, a teenager, or an adult all can develop psoriasis anytime. Although psoriasis in babies is very rare, it still exists. Mostly, it develops after 15 years of age.
An estimate shows that around 40% of patients with psoriasis first develop its symptoms before 16. In children, it usually starts with a bacterial infection.
Is Your Child at Risk of Developing Psoriasis?
Psoriasis can pass from one generation to the other through genes. If you or your partner has psoriasis, your child will have a 10% to 15% chance of developing it. If both of you have psoriasis, then the risk increases. Now your child will have a 50% to 75% chance of having it.
Other than genes, certain environmental factors also increase the risk of your child developing psoriasis. Living in cold weather, having abnormal bodyweight, staying stressed, and eating certain medications can make your child more susceptible to this illness.
What are The Types of Psoriasis in Children?
Common Types of Psoriasis in Children
Plaque psoriasis, also referred to as psoriasis vulgaris, is the most abundant type of psoriasis in children. In it, red-silvery raised patches (plaques) develop on the skin surface. They can burn or feel itchy. Due to which your child may scratch them and experience bleeding.
Plaques can appear in any part of your body, but they are most commonly observed on knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp. Children usually have less scaly and smaller plaques.
Guttate psoriasis is also known as drop-like psoriasis. It is because, in this illness, small drop-like red spots appear on the skin. These spots can develop on any area but are usually seen on thighs, upper arms, trunk, and back. Some children may also have it on their ears, scalp, and even face.
In children, it usually occurs after another illness. It may vanish on its own within a few weeks. If it does not leave, you may need to give your child proper treatment.
In inverse psoriasis, bright red and shiny spots form in the folds of the body. It occurs in the areas where children often rub like underarms, behind knees, and in groins. Your child can prevent its symptoms by avoiding excessive sweating, skin friction, and fungal infections.
Uncommon Types of Psoriasis in Children
As the name indicates, in pustular psoriasis, pus-filled raised bumps form on the skin surface. They are surrounded by red skin. Blisters usually appear on feet and hands, but they can show up on other body areas as well.
It is rare in children, but if it occurs, children usually have its mild form. Pus-filled blisters may seem infectious, but they are not.
It is the least common form of psoriasis in children. Red itchy patches form all over the body and may burn at times. Skin also starts peeling off. This kind of psoriasis can be deadly. That is why the patient should be taken to the hospital immediately. Other infections may also develop in patients.
What are the Symptoms of Psoriasis in Children?
Symptoms of psoriasis can vary from one type to the other or from one person to the other. Its most common symptoms include:
- Red silvery patches on different body parts
- Whitish scales usually cover the patches
- Patches may burn, itch, or feel sore when touched
- Thickened hand and feet nails that may start peeling off or develop cracks
- Drop-like small spots spread throughout the body surface
- Wide red patches develop in skin folds like in the armpit or under the knee etc.
- Skin peeling and skin dryness
- Pain in several body joints
Psoriasis is an incurable disease. Its symptoms can reduce but will never fade away fully. Sometimes they may appear more severe, and other times they may show up in the mild form.
You can never predict when signs or symptoms will be mild or when they will be severe.
How to Diagnose Psoriasis in Children?
There is no psoriasis specific laboratory test available to diagnose it. But your doctor can perform 2 thorough psoriasis exams: Psoriasis Severity Area Index (PASI) and the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI). The doctor will first do a visual examination. During this examination, he will observe nails, joint movement, scalp, and skin fold thoroughly. He will also ask you about your family’s history of having psoriasis or any other skin condition.
The doctor can peel off a small piece of affected skin and send it to the laboratory to identify the real issue. A doctor can differentiate psoriasis from other skin conditions based on its specific signs and symptoms.
What are the Suitable Treatments for Psoriasis?
A doctor cannot cure psoriasis, but he can offer different treatment options to relieve the pain or symptoms. For example, he may recommend a skin moisturizer to tackle skin dryness. Similarly, he may prescribe a medicine used to treat allergies. Let’s look into the common treatment options deeply.
In a topical treatment, the doctor will suggest creams, lotions, or ointments be applied on the skin directly. It may help reduce itchiness, dryness, or the burning sensation. Your child will be advised to use the creams a few times a day. He may find it difficult initially.
But if you keep reminding him or set a few electronic reminders, he will have less trouble following the doctor’s advice. It eases mild to moderate symptoms.
Medicinal treatment is only recommended if your child has severe psoriasis. In this treatment, your child may take certain medicines orally and through shots. These medicines have side effects. Due to this reason, most of the doctors wait for the child to get older. And even if they prescribe such medication, they give it for a shorter time.
Phototherapy, also called light therapy, is a form of treatment in which skin is exposed to the light of a certain wavelength. It is usually UV light or a laser beam. The doctor may also recommend natural light. It tends to ease psoriasis symptoms. But too much exposure can even worsen the condition.
Light therapy is also called second-line treatment. It is because doctors go for the topical treatment before choosing this treatment option. A doctor suggests it when psoriasis affects most of the body areas.
Psoriasis Diet for Children
Making a few lifestyle changes can help your child cope well with psoriasis. One important thing you must consider is your child’s diet. He should avoid foods that can trigger psoriasis flare-ups. Let’s find out what is the right psoriasis diet.
Foods to Eat
Omega-3 Rich Fatty Fish
Omega-3 is a natural anti-inflammatory component. Including omega-3 rich foods in your child’s diet will reduce his disease symptoms and help him tackle inflammation.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Natural fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. These components strengthen the body from the inside and give the energy to fight off disease. Leafy greens, berries, and cherries also have anti-inflammatory components.
Healthy fats contain anti-inflammatory compounds. These compounds can reduce skin irritation, itchiness, and burning. Common examples of healthy fats are coconut oil, safflower oil, and olive oil.
Foods to Avoid
Gluten Containing Foods
Some psoriasis patients can be sensitive to the gluten protein. So, keeps gluten-containing foods like baked items, pasta, sauces, noodles, and processed foods away from your child.
Nightshade vegetables like tomato, potato, and eggplant have certain chemicals in them that can induce inflammation. They act as psoriasis triggers and can increase the severity of the symptoms. Minimize these vegetables from your child’s diet and look for their alternatives.
Processed Food Items
Cheese, breakfast cereals, bread, etc., are the items children prefer to eat daily. Such processed food items can increase your child’s overall body weight. Increased weight can lead to other health conditions that can increase psoriasis flare-ups.
How to Explain Psoriasis to Your Child?
Explain in Simple Words
A psoriatic child may get confused about what the disease is and why he has developed it. So, explain everything patiently tell him he is not the only one to have it. There are millions of people like him. Avoid using scientific terms that his growing mind can understand.
Be Open to Questions
Let your child ask as many questions as he has. This will resolve all confusion. A clearer mind will guide him better to deal with the social impact.
Don’t give your child false hopes like treatments can cure it etc. Be honest as it will help him get the courage he needs to fit in the society. Don’t be harsh with your words. Help him show positivity even when he finds it hard to handle.
How Can a Child Explain It to His Friends?
Tell Them It is Non-contagious
Let your child explain psoriasis to his friends in understandable words. He can tell them that the disease is not infectious. None of his friends will acquire it after having a skin-to-skin interaction.
Debunk the Myths
Increase your child’s knowledge so that he can tell his friends what’s right about psoriasis and what’s not. Let him explain that it’s not caused by poor hygiene and that it’s not his fault to have it.
Give Them Time
Children may need a little more time than elders to understand things betters. So, encourage your child to give his friends some time. They will soon learn to handle it as well. You can also talk to their parents, share your views about this condition and its impact on your child.
The Best Approach Among Teachers
A teacher must have enough understanding of psoriasis to handle a child having psoriasis. You can share a psoriasis-related book or website links with teachers to help them learn about it better.
Support the Psoriatic Child
The psoriatic child usually suffers from low self-esteem. A teacher should exhibit polite behavior around such children and encourage them to participate in different activities.
Bullying is a common issue in schools. A teacher should keep an eye on a psoriatic child’s behavior when he is around certain students.
Don’t Force You Child to Do Things That Is Not Comfortable Doing
A psoriatic child may feel pain or itchiness after participating in some activities. He may not express his problem, but you should understand the hidden meaning and avoid forcing the child as a teacher.
How Can a Child Deal With Psoriasis in Gym Class?
Gym class requires the participation of students in different sports. You can contact the gym teacher of your child and tell them about your child’s condition.
The teacher should allow your child to wear clothes that cover his skin correctly. He should also let him take part in activities that require minimum skin-to-skin connection or friction.
Psoriasis in children can develop at any age. You can tackle its symptoms with proper treatment. While dealing with its visible signs, do not forget about your child’s mental health. Encourage him to accept this condition.
Tell him it’s not his fault that he is different. Be patient if he does not understand it initially and start avoiding people. With time and practice, he will learn to cope with psoriasis well.