Even adults with psoriasis often feel self-conscious, but for kids, the discomfort can be even more difficult. Typically, psoriasis first appears between the ages of 15 and 35, although 10-15% of cases begin before the age of ten. In rare instances, even infants can be diagnosed with psoriasis.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a genetic disease that affects the skin and sometimes, the joints. Plaque psoriasis, which is the most common type, manifests itself in dry, scaly patches of skin, most often on the knees, elbows, and scalp. Less commonly, lesions can also occur on the torso, palms, soles of the feet, genitals, and in rare cases, on the face. The severity of the lesions varies a great deal from person to person, but most cases are fairly mild.
Although the cause of psoriasis is still uncertain, experts believe that the immune system becomes mistakenly triggered and the growth cycle of skin cells speeds up. A Psoriatic skin cell takes only a few days to mature and unlike normal skin cells, rather than shedding, these cells pile up to form the characteristic lesions.
Alleviating Kids’ Worries
Because the patches of inflamed skin in psoriasis are easily visible, many kids worry that their peers will shun them for fear of “catching” the disease. It is important to assure your child that psoriasis in not contagious, so there is no danger to their friends. Additionally, try not to minimise your child’s emotional discomfort; youngsters place a lot of importance on body image, and psoriasis lesions often begin appearing just when kids are already at a vulnerable age.
Give Them the Facts
Sometimes, all that is needed to help kids cope well with a diagnosis of psoriasis are a few facts. Depending on your child’s age, the information that they can understand will vary, but all children benefit from knowing the basics:
- Psoriasis tends to crop up and then go into remission without warning. Let your child know that they can expect to see lesions on and off throughout their lives.
- Be sure that your child understands that although the exact causes are unknown, that psoriasis is genetically based and that they didn’t do anything to cause this. Some kids fear that they brought on the lesions by some bad habit that they may have.
- Treatment options are available. Assure your child that you will help them to find what works best for them.
- Many psoriasis sufferers notice that certain triggers can bring on a bout. Help your child to keep track of outbreaks so that they can better manage their condition
There are a number of treatment options. Many patients must try a few before finding the combination that works best for them. Possibilities include:
- Topical treatments, both prescription and over-the-counter, are usually the first line of defense.
- Photo-therapy can be a useful tool for some sufferers. Treatments are usually administered at a doctor’s office or clinic.
- Oral medications may be tried for moderate to severe psoriasis – especially if simpler treatments fail to achieve the desired result.
- Meditation, acupuncture, and herbal remedies are growing in popularity with some health practitioners. Be cautious about the use of some herbs since some do have side effects.
- Although expert opinions vary, some sufferers find that their dietary choices may contribute to periods of remission vs. outbreaks. If you’d like to explore the possible diet connection, consult with a dietician.
- Sun and water therapy are helpful for many psoriasis patients. As many as 80% of sufferers say their lesions lessen with regular sun exposure and water is known to soften the scaly patches.