Psoriasis in children – what does it look like?

Children might have a very distinct look to their psoriasis compared to adults, and it may be misdiagnosed as another skin condition.

Babies in nappies may have what’s known as napkin psoriasis, which could be confused for irritant dermatitis or an infection. Guttate psoriasis – the type of psoriasis that appears as small pink scaly bumps on the skin (gutta means drop in Latin) – is often associated with strep infections in children, and is more common in children than adults.

Psoriasis is complicated. It seems to be an inflammatory immune response that causes skin cells to replicate themselves too quickly, resulting in thick, scaly plaques on the skin. It is estimated that about a third of all psoriasis appears in children, with incidence increasing.

Psoriasis can be very uncomfortable, and children and families can have quality of life conundrums. People with psoriasis are more likely to have mental and emotional health issues, particularly depression and anxiety, which needs to be adequately managed in children to help prevent future problems.

In one study, 208 children aged between four and 17 with moderate to severe psoriasis were questioned – there was a significant impact on their quality of life by their disease, compared with other health conditions like asthma or psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis appears in about 10 per cent of children with psoriasis, and this needs to be addressed to prevent lasting joint damage. Psoriasis may be associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease, with increases in risks of cardiovascular issues (heart attack, stroke), which requires early or ongoing screening or monitoring in children with psoriasis.

Treatments for psoriasis in children include topical steroids and light therapies. We treat children with psoriasis at our Melbourne clinic.

We can help manage your child’s psoriasis.
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