What should I know about pediatric psoriasis?
While more common in adults, psoriasis also affects the youth population. The presentation of psoriasis in children is similar to that in adults, ranging from plaques on the scalp, elbows and knees to whole body involvement. However, because systemic, biologic and even many topical medications have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people less than 18 years old, the therapeutic approach for psoriasis tends to be less aggressive. Even as only 20 percent of U.S. dermatologists prescribe biologics for the treatment of adult psoriasis, an even smaller percentage prescribe them for pediatric psoriasis. It is very important to be vigorous, even aggressive, when treating childhood psoriasis because psoriasis can potentially be more physically and psychologically distressing for younger patients.
Ten percent of people with psoriasis develop it before age 10. The incidence occurs equally between boys and girls. Genetically, if one parent has psoriasis there is a 10 percent chance that the child will have psoriasis; if both parents have psoriasis there is a 33 percent chance.
Despite the lack of FDA-approved options, children want help. Teasing at school, poor self-esteem and diminished interpersonal skills that can result from childhood psoriasis require aggressive attention. The child, parents and caregiver all need to be part of the team to enhance treatment compliance, which can be difficult in this age group.
The National Psoriasis Foundation Walk to Cure Psoriasis program provides opportunities for children with psoriasis to meet others and helps greatly in allowing them to cope with their condition. Additionally, the Psoriasis Foundation has the only website dedicated to children and adolescents with psoriatic disease: www.PsoMe.org.