Connect with others who understand.

sign up Log in
Resources
About MyPsoriasisTeam
Powered By
See answer

Psoriasis in Children: Symptoms and Treatments

Medically reviewed by Diane M. Horowitz, M.D.
Updated on April 6, 2023

Psoriasis in children, also called pediatric psoriasis, is a chronic (long-term) disease that causes thick, discolored patches of skin. Psoriasis can affect children of all ages, from 2-year-olds through teenagers. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about one-third of people diagnosed with psoriasis are under age 20.

Although children can develop the same types of psoriasis as adults, there are some differences between psoriasis in children and adults. Parents and caregivers may want to learn about the symptoms and treatments for childhood psoriasis and how they differ from adult psoriasis.

Symptoms of Psoriasis in Children

Symptoms of psoriasis in children are similar to symptoms in adults — thick, discolored (pink, red, purplish, or brown), scaly patches of skin. These patches are called plaques and can change in size and location on a child’s skin over time. Other symptoms of psoriasis in children include:

  • Pain
  • Silvery scales
  • Itching
  • Stinging
  • Burning
  • Tightening feeling on the skin
  • Hair loss

Almost 1 in 3 cases of psoriasis begin in childhood, causing thick, scaly patches on the face or other parts of the body. Plaques can change in size and location as a child grows up. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ/DermNet

In children, plaques are most commonly found — and first appear — on the scalp. Psoriasis plaques also frequently appear on the ears, upper eyelids, fingernails, and toenails of school-aged children.

In children, psoriasis plaques usually first show up on the scalp and may also affect other parts of the body, such as the ears. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ/DermNet)

Children with psoriasis are more likely to have other health problems, including:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Juvenile arthritis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Mental health disorders

Juvenile psoriatic arthritis affects up to 10 percent of children with psoriasis and causes swollen, painful, and stiff joints. Proper management of childhood psoriasis is important for a child’s long-term health and wellness.

Other skin conditions, such as eczema, are common in children and can be confused with psoriasis. A pediatric dermatologist specializing in treating skin conditions in children can help determine whether a child has psoriasis or eczema.

Treatments for Psoriasis in Children

Although there is currently no cure for childhood psoriasis, many effective treatments are available. Seeking treatment from a board-certified dermatologist, having a solid support network, and making lifestyle changes can help children manage psoriasis successfully.

Treatments for childhood psoriasis include:

  • Identifying and avoiding triggers that cause flare-ups
  • Maintaining a proper skin care routine and regularly using moisturizers
  • Living a healthy lifestyle
  • Using medications

Some medications for childhood psoriasis are topical (applied directly to the skin), and others are taken orally (by mouth) or by injection. Medications for children with psoriasis include:

Special considerations are needed when treating psoriasis in children. It can be difficult for them to understand and handle the physical and emotional impacts of psoriasis. For example, some children with psoriasis feel embarrassed by their visible skin lesions — and sometimes even experience bullying. As one MyPsoriasisTeam member shared, “I have watched the daily struggle my daughter has gone through.” Another said, “This affects her confidence and self-esteem.”

Pain and itching can make it hard for children to focus at school and sleep at night, as well. A supportive environment, including a support group and care from a pediatric dermatologist, can help children with psoriasis deal with this condition.

Prevalence of Psoriasis in Children

Almost 1 in 3 cases of psoriasis begin during childhood. Psoriasis affects nearly 1 percent of children, according to care guidelines published in the Journal of the Academy of Dermatology. The authors of a 2016 study in the journal Psoriasis: Targets and Therapy reported that the most common types of psoriasis in children are:

  • Plaque psoriasis
  • Guttate psoriasis
  • Scalp psoriasis
  • Pustular psoriasis

One of the most common forms of psoriasis in children is guttate psoriasis — patches that are round or oval and discolored (pink, red, purplish, or dark brown, depending on natural skin tone). The rash often follows a viral infection and goes away within a few months. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ/DermNet)

The rate of psoriasis in children more than doubled between 1970 and 2000. Researchers believe a mix of biological and environmental factors is responsible for this increase.

Risk Factors for Developing Psoriasis in Children

Like psoriasis in adults, psoriasis in children is caused by an overactive immune system. A ramped-up immune response causes the body to make too many skin cells and leads to skin inflammation. Psoriasis in children also has a hereditary component. According to a study in the journal Psoriasis: Targets and Therapy, more than 50 percent of children with psoriasis have a family history of the condition.

Risk factors for psoriasis in children include:

  • Viral infections such as strep throat
  • Stress
  • Skin injury
  • Obesity
  • Secondhand cigarette smoke
  • Discontinuation of corticosteroid use

How Does Psoriasis in Children Differ From Adult Psoriasis?

Psoriasis has similar characteristics in children and adults, but there are several differences. For example, guttate psoriasis is a more common type of psoriasis in children than in adults. Guttate psoriasis is linked to infections such as strep throat. Obesity and psoriasis are also more closely connected in children than adults.

Psoriasis plaques in children are often smaller and thinner than those in adults. Plaques are also more likely to develop on the face, the back of the knees, and inside the armpits, elbows, and groin in children.

The Bottom Line

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that can have a significant impact on a child’s quality of life. Parents or caregivers and health care providers need to work together to develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses the physical and emotional needs of the child. With continued research, dermatologists can better understand the causes of psoriasis and work toward more effective treatments and improved outcomes for children with this condition.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 116,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Do you have a child with psoriasis? When did their symptoms first appear? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Updated on April 6, 2023

A MyPsoriasisTeam Member

Oh dear. It’s so hard to see your son with psoriasis. My son has it badly too. Cosentyx cleared it, but he’s had a gap when changing jobs and insurance and it’s coming raging back. Poor thing, right… read more

posted May 16, 2022
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

We'd love to hear from you! Please share your name and email to post and read comments.

You'll also get the latest articles directly to your inbox.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

Subscribe now to ask your question, get answers, and stay up to date on the latest articles.

Get updates directly to your inbox.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Diane M. Horowitz, M.D. is an internal medicine and rheumatology specialist. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about her here.
Candace Crowley, Ph.D. received her doctorate in immunology from the University of California, Davis, where her thesis focused on immune modulation in childhood asthma. Learn more about her here.

Related Articles

When you donate plasma, you might literally be saving someone’s life — getting plasma at the righ...

Can You Donate Plasma if You Have Psoriasis?

When you donate plasma, you might literally be saving someone’s life — getting plasma at the righ...
Using vaping devices — also known as vapes or electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) — has become a...

Vaping and Psoriasis: Is There a Connection?

Using vaping devices — also known as vapes or electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) — has become a...
Many babies have sensitive skin and rashes that come and go. If you have a family history of psor...

4 Facts To Know About Psoriasis in Babies: Early Symptoms and Treatments

Many babies have sensitive skin and rashes that come and go. If you have a family history of psor...
Scientists have found environmental factors and triggers — such as smoking, specific infections, ...

Is Psoriasis Genetic? A Deeper Look at Genes and Passing It On

Scientists have found environmental factors and triggers — such as smoking, specific infections, ...
Psoriasis isn’t contagious — it doesn’t spread from one person to another — but on your own body?...

Can Psoriasis Spread? 5 Facts To Know

Psoriasis isn’t contagious — it doesn’t spread from one person to another — but on your own body?...
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and the accelerated production of skin ...

10 Facts About Psoriasis You Should Know

Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and the accelerated production of skin ...

Recent Articles

There are now more effective treatments for psoriasis than ever before. Some treatments are appr...

6 Types of Treatment for Psoriasis: What’s Best for You?

There are now more effective treatments for psoriasis than ever before. Some treatments are appr...
Autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and thyroid eye disease (TED) occur when a person’s immune ...

Psoriasis and Thyroid Eye Disease: What You Should Know

Autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and thyroid eye disease (TED) occur when a person’s immune ...
MyHealthTeam does not provide health services, and if you need help, we’d strongly encourage you ...

Crisis Resources

MyHealthTeam does not provide health services, and if you need help, we’d strongly encourage you ...
Dermatologists often prescribe steroid treatments — also called corticosteroids — for psoriasis b...

Fluocinonide for Psoriasis: Can It Help With Itching and Swelling?

Dermatologists often prescribe steroid treatments — also called corticosteroids — for psoriasis b...
4 Early Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis​​​​​1:21This video highlights some early signs of psoriatic...

Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms (VIDEO)

4 Early Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis​​​​​1:21This video highlights some early signs of psoriatic...
If your finger ever gets stuck in one position and you can’t move it, you might have a condition ...

Psoriatic Arthritis and Trigger Finger: Causes and Symptoms

If your finger ever gets stuck in one position and you can’t move it, you might have a condition ...
MyPsoriasisTeam My psoriasis Team

Thank you for subscribing!

Become a member to get even more:

sign up for free

close