Psoriasis

Also known as: plaque psoriasis.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a non-contagious long-lasting (chronic) skin disease, that gets better and worse, characterized by extra skin cells building up rapidly on the surface of the skin giving rise to the red, raised, thickened silvery scale patches of skin that usually appear on the scalp, knees, elbows but can appear anywhere on the body.

It can be a minor worry or cause your child to feel very poorly about themselves.

What causes psoriasis?

When a child has psoriasis, the body’s T lymphocyte cells, which are part of the immune system, attack healthy skin. This tricks the body into developing new skin cells to replace them. This may occur for genetic reasons or due to environmental factors.

Some risk factors which increase the likelihood of the patches getting worse include:

  • infections (viral and bacterial)
  • obesity
  • stress
  • skin irritations like sunburns
  • less sunlight exposure

What are the signs/symptoms of psoriasis?

Skin appearances may vary; the most common presentation however is "plaque psoriasis" where scales, red patches, dry skin that cracks and/or bleeds, itching, soreness, and burning are prominent features. Pitted fingernails and stiff joints can all be symptoms of psoriasis.

Other presenting types include:

  • Napkin
  • Guttate
  • Pustular
  • Inverse and/or Erythrodermic (rare) psoriasis

What are psoriasis care options?

There are a number of topical and other treatments available to manage your child's symptoms. A combination of therapies may be recommended by your child's pediatric dermatologist at Nicklaus Children's Hospital who will fully discuss with you/child to ensure that you and your child have the best possible result. Including a child psychologist is also advised, as chronic condition may affect the mental health of the child and family.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: August 30, 2021 04:55 PM

Children's Dermatology

The Division of Dermatology at Nicklaus Children's Hospital focuses on the latest medications and technology available for the specialized treatment of all skin diseases and disorders affecting children of all ages.

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