How to Help a Child With Psoriasis

If your child has psoriasis, there's a lot you can do to help him learn how to manage symptoms and keep the skin condition from chipping away at his self-confidence. With the right approach, your support can show him the way to live and thrive with the disease.

Help Your Child Accept It

Even after the doctor explains what psoriasis is all about, some kids still hope that if they pretend it's not real, it'll magically go away. And if your child isn't on board with treatment, you'll get a lot of resistance and eye rolls.

To help your youngster understand the condition -- and boost his sense of control -- you can:

  • Give him books or links to websites about psoriasis (preferably written by or about kids who have it) and talk about it afterward
  • Encourage him to ask questions during doctor's appointments
  • Make him responsible for treatment from a young age. Even first-graders can put on moisturizers, and older kids can take full control.

Do Some Role-Playing

Kids with psoriasis worry about how to explain it. What if someone in the school locker room makes a comment? To help out, talk through some possible responses together. Some points to consider:

  • Psoriasis is common.
  • It's not contagious, so no one can catch it.
  • It has nothing to do with how clean a person is or how often they shower.
  • There's no cure yet, but experts get closer every year.

Your kid will feel more confident if he's ready with answers to uncomfortable questions. Some children actually come to like questions about psoriasis. They enjoy the chance to take control and educate their classmates.

Talk to School Staff

Make connections with people at your child's school at the start of each year. It's a good way to head off problems. Try to get confirmation from the staff about these issues:

  • There's a specific person (preferably the teacher) who your child can turn to for help.
  • Staff will watch for problems in the classroom or conflict with other students, like teasing or bullying.
  • The gym teacher won't be surprised if your kid doesn't want to wear shorts or can't take part in some activities.

If you set up a good working relationship with school officials early on, you'll be able to act fast -- and work as a team -- if any problems crop up.

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Build Connections

Sometimes children with psoriasis feel like they're the only ones who have this problem. So help your youngster connect with other kids who also have the condition.

Look for groups or message boards online, or ask your child's doctor about face-to-face support groups. You can also check out summer camps for kids with skin conditions. They're all great ways to get support, learn practical tips, and build confidence.

And that goes for you, too. A chat with other parents who have kids with psoriasis can give you new insights and strategies.

Consider Therapy

Kids with psoriasis have a higher chance of getting low self-esteem and depression. Schedule an appointment with a therapist, such as a child psychologist or social worker, if you see that your child:

  • Is irritable and angry
  • Spends less time with friends
  • Has changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Has problems in school

But therapy can be a big help to any kid with psoriasis, even right after the diagnosis. Therapists can offer kids with long-term diseases practical ways to deal with daily life and issues with friends and classmates.

Reassure Your Child About the Road Ahead

One of the hardest things about psoriasis is how unpredictable it is. Flares may happen for no reason. Treatments that worked well in the past may stop working. And children's perspectives change, too. A kid who seemed completely fine with symptoms in the past could become painfully self-conscious once middle school starts.

Life with a long-term skin disease has ups and downs. So reassure your child -- and yourself -- that while there may be some tough days, he'll get better. It's not an easy lesson, but you're helping him build a sense of resilience, and he'll benefit from that for the rest of his life.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on January 24, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance (PAPAA): "Children with Psoriasis."

Journal of Pediatric Nursing: "Tough-Skinned Kids: Identifying Psychosocial Effects of Psoriasis and Helping Pediatric Patients and Families Cope."

National Psoriasis Foundation: "Coping with Psoriasis at School," "How to Help Teens Cope with Psoriasis," "For Teens: Living with Psoriasis."

Psoriasis Cure Now: "Psoriasis Cure Now Back to School Fact Sheet on Psoriasis in Children."

Cleveland Clinic: "Depression in Children."

KidsHealth: "Psoriasis."

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