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Psoriasis in children: Symptoms, treatments, and causes

Psoriasis in children: Symptoms, treatments, and causes
Finding out a child has psoriasis can be difficult news for any parent who will worry about the effects this lifelong skin disease may have.

Fortunately, psoriasis is well-studied, and though there is no cure yet, doctors can offer help to children living with psoriasis.

Most children with the condition respond well to the available treatments, and many may go through life with few or only small flares.

Fast facts on psoriasis in children:

  • Psoriasis is often a lifelong autoimmune disorder that targets the skin, nails, and scalp.
  • Psoriasis in children is similar to psoriasis in adults.
  • Psoriasis is measured by its severity.
  • Symptoms may be difficult to spot in children as they resemble other childhood rashes.

What is psoriasis in children?

When a person has psoriasis, they will develop patches of red, scaly skin in different areas of their body. Over a lifetime, the patches will often flare or become worse and then go into remission.

Types of psoriasis in children

young girl itching her arm
Psoriasis in adults and children may be itchy and painful.

There are several different types of psoriasis that affect children.

As with adults, the most common form of psoriasis in children is plaque psoriasis. It appears as well-defined patches or plaques with a silvery-white surface.

Often, the first place for these patches to occur in children is on the scalp.

Another common type of psoriasis to affect children is called guttate psoriasis.

This type is associated with several small, raindrop-like patches forming in large groups. When guttate psoriasis occurs in children and young teenagers, it is often the result of a secondary infection in the throat, such as strep throat.

Other upper respiratory infections are also common triggers for psoriasis to start. Though not always the case, guttate psoriasis may go away within a few months and not return.

Children will often develop flexural psoriasis. This term refers to the large, red patches of psoriasis that occurs around folds in the skin, such as at the joints.

How psoriasis differs in children and adults

The biggest difference between adult and child psoriasis is simply the age of onset. Otherwise, a child with psoriasis will experience many of the same symptoms and triggers as an adult.

Other potential differences in children include:

  • the early age of onset before adolescence or adulthood
  • greater psychological impact due to interactions with peers and maturity levels
  • psoriasis patches tend to form around the scalp, buttocks, and face

What are the causes?