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The Mental and Emotional Impact of Pediatric Psoriasis

What parents need to know about the mental, emotional, and social burdens of this chronic skin condition.

Medically reviewed in April 2022

Psoriasis impacts people of all ages, and people of all ages can struggle with the mental and emotional impact of living with psoriasis. For a parent of a child that has been diagnosed with psoriasis, learning about the potential psychological, emotional, and social impacts of the disorder can be distressing. Many parents worry about how the burden of living with psoriasis will affect their child in school, how it will affect their child’s social development, and how it will affect their child as they grow into adults.

But while children with psoriasis may face additional challenges, there are steps parents can take to help their kids lead happy, healthy lives.

Understand the impact of psoriasis
The impact on quality of life is one of the key factors considered when assessing the severity of psoriasis. This is why psoriasis can be considered severe even when it affects only a small area of the body—for example, psoriasis on the face or in the genital region may be considered severe due to its impact on mental wellbeing. Psoriatic arthritis, a type of arthritis that affects people with psoriasis, can also occur in children, and also have a significant impact on a child’s quality of life.

The effects of psoriasis can include:

  • Being stigmatized or feeling stigmatized because of the appearance of symptoms.
  • Feeling shame and embarrassment about their appearance.
  • Feelings of low self-esteem and low self-worth.
  • A higher risk of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and sleep disorders.
  • Difficulties in school, extracurricular activities, and socializing.
  • A higher risk of substance abuse and/or recreational drug use.
  • Stress and strain on relationships with family members.

It’s important to remember that there are steps parents can take to help children overcome these mental, emotional, and social challenges.

Understand that there are treatments available
A good quality of life with psoriasis begins with an appropriate treatment plan. While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are treatments that can help control symptoms, and getting symptoms under control can help alleviate physical discomfort as well as the mental and emotional burden. Topical treatments are typically the first-line treatment for pediatric psoriasis. Patients with more severe psoriasis may need treatment with phototherapy or systemic therapy. This aspect of treatment is typically overseen by a pediatric dermatologist.

Make mental wellbeing a priority
In addition to seeing a pediatric dermatologist to treat psoriasis, it is important to keep regular appointments with your child’s pediatrician to monitor all the other aspects of your child’s health—including mental health.

Parents and pediatricians should make mental and emotional wellbeing a priority as early as possible. Counseling, therapy, and support groups can be worthwhile additions to a child’s treatment plan. These can also be a worthwhile endeavor for parents and other members of the family as well—psoriasis can be mentally stressful and emotionally draining for all members of the family.

Parents should also encourage kids of all ages to develop healthy habits around eating, exercise, coping with emotions, and looking after their health, as well as encouraging kids to learn more about their condition and how it is managed. Establishing good routines and habits at an early age can benefit kids throughout their lives.

Sources:
National Psoriasis Foundation. "About Psoriasis."
Hee-Sun Moon, Alexandra Mizara, and Sandy R. McBride. "Psoriasis and Psycho-Dermatology." Dermatology and Therapy, 2013. Vol. 3, No. 2.
The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance. "Psychological aspects of psoriasis."
Medical News Today. "What to know about psoriasis in children."
Alan Menter, Kelly M. Cordoro, et al. "Joint American Academy of Dermatology–National Psoriasis Foundation guidelines of care for the management and treatment of psoriasis in pediatric patients." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2020. Vol. 82, No. 1.
UpToDate. "Patient education: Psoriasis (Beyond the Basics)."
Roxanne Pinson, Bahman Sotoodian, and Loretta Fiorillo. "Psoriasis in Children." Psoriasis (Auckland, N.Z.), 2016. Vol. 6.
DermNet NZ. "Psychological effects of psoriasis."
Barbara Isabel Roque Cunha Ferreira, Jose Luis Pio Da Costa Abreu, et al. "Psoriasis and Associated Psychiatric Disorders: A Systematic Review on Etiopathogenesis and Clinical Correlation." The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 2016. Vol. 9, No. 6.
National Psoriasis Foundation. "Coping with psoriasis at school."
Finola M. Bruins, Inge M. G. J. Bronckers, Hans M. M. Groenewoud, et al. "Association Between Quality of Life and Improvement in Psoriasis Severity and Extent in Pediatric Patients." JAMA Dermatology, 2020. Vol. 156, No. 1.
Jayakar Thomas and Kumar Parimalam. "Treating pediatric plaque psoriasis: challenges and solutions." Pediatric Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, 2016. vol. 7.
Maddalena Napolitano, Matteo Megna, et al. "Systemic Treatment of Pediatric Psoriasis: A Review." Dermatology and Therapy, 2016. Vol. 6, No. 2.
KidsHealth.org. "Psoriasis."
National Psoriasis Foundation. "Our Spot: A place for youth."

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