Your Child Cope With Psoriasis
Like adults affected by psoriasis,
children who have the skin condition often have a difficult time
coping with the realities of the diagnosis.
Children - especially young children - rely
on their parents to find solace in not only their symptoms, but also
the emotional challenges of having skin that looks different than
other childrenís skin.
More than Physical Wounds
While some children show
little in the way of an emotional reaction to psoriasis, others feel
embarrassed, angry or sad. Children often become anxious about
recurring episodes, worsening of the psoriasis and being rejected by
other children their age.
Itís difficult to predict how or when
children will react to having psoriasis. Their moods and reactions
often swing with the manifestations of the disease. Remember that
having psoriasis at a young age impacts the patientís body image
more severely than in adults.
You Can Help Your Child Cope
One of the best things
parents of children with psoriasis can do is become educated about
the disease, so they can educate their children. While a young child
might be satisfied with a parent as a constant information and
comfort source, older children and teens might also turn to friends
or counselors who know about psoriasis for support. Regardless of
the person doing the educating and comforting, a support network is
important for the child to successfully cope with the disease.
The way you educate your child should
be based on the childís age and level of understanding. Sending the
same message in different ways over and over again might be
necessary to get them to comprehend their situation. Always be
truthful but hopeful.
Encouraging points to get across
Psoriasis is not life threatening.
You are not alone. Millions of people
Psoriasis is not contagious. Your
friends donít have to be afraid of catching it from you.
There are excellent treatments
available through a dermatologist.
Your openness and willingness to
educate, support and address questions head on will, in most cases,
make your child stronger and more willing to do the same for himself
and others with the disease.
Start from the basics. It is key to
educate your child about the normal process of cell production and
how that goes awry with psoriasis. One way to describe psoriasis to
younger children is to say: ďPsoriasis is a condition that makes
your skin behave and look differently than normal skin. Normal skin
cells take four weeks to go from the bottom skin layer to the top
skin layer, where they die. In skin with psoriasis, it happens in
only three to four days, so there is not time for the old cells to
wear away, and the outer skin layer piles up into thick plaques that
become silvery white scales. Because the exact cause of psoriasis is
not known, there is no cure, but there are many treatments that can
make it go away for while or at least make it feel and look better.Ē
Some other things to communicate
Abating myths, such as those making
the child feel like the psoriasis is her fault because she doesnít
eat right, keep clean or has an abnormal personality. Assure your
child that they did not bring on psoriasis. Itís not their fault.
Preparing your child for the chronic
nature of the disease and that it goes through cycles.
Helping your child to understand that
while this is a genetic disorder, we donít know why some people
have it and some donít.
Enforcing the importance of the
medications and lifestyle modifications (if any) prescribed by the
childís dermatologist. Tell your child how important it is that
they use the medicines properly or to control the psoriasis.
Encouraging questions and
inquisitiveness. Some children are better off writing down their
questions. Teens might be interested in camouflaging techniques
and other things that help them to feel more in control of their
condition. Ensure that they get the answers to their questions
from their dermatologist. Discuss their condition, both physically
and emotionally, with the dermatologist.
Encouraging your child to reach out
for support whenever needed and making sure the support is there.
Teaching your child patience, with
the understanding that some treatments work better than others for
Making sure the child understands
that while psoriasis might be part of who they are, itís not all
of who they are.
Donít Forget to Recognize the Childís
Itís one thing to
communicate the medical side of psoriasis, but itís just as
necessary to talk about the intangiblesóthe feelingsóthat the child
Tell your child that his feelings are
validated by saying, ďItís OK to be angry, sad or frustrated, and
itís OK to share those feelings with others.Ē
Teenagers are particularly vulnerable
to feeling betrayed by their skin and isolated from their peers.
Remind the teen to educate others so that they are more accepting
Empowering your child with information
and support will help them through the difficult times of the
disease. One place that will help is the
Foundation, which offers youth programs tailored
to three age groups: kids (ages 5 to 8), youth (ages 9 to 12) and
teens. There are games and puzzles for young children, as well as
stories, that might help them to grasp your messages as a parent.
The youth and teen sections offer several subsections, including
opportunities for online chats, where kids can meet others with the
disease, and participate in question and answer sections.
The National Psoriasis
All content solely
developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
For an overview, visit
the AAD pamphlet
Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis.