Psoriasis is caused by excessive inflammation in the skin. This causes rapid growth and shedding of skin cells, which build up into thick, red and scaly patches.
Psoriasis is a genetic condition, which means it runs in families.
It isn’t contagious.
The symptoms of psoriasis are red patches of skin that have silvery-white scales. These patches aren’t usually itchy.
Psoriasis can come up anywhere on the body, but it most often comes up on the scalp, knees, elbows, belly button and between the buttocks. Psoriasis also affects fingernails and toenails. If you get it on your nails, they might look pitted, discoloured or thickened.
You can get psoriasis at any age, although children get it less often than adults. In young children it might come up in the nappy area, and you might think it’s nappy rash.
Your child might get a spotty type of psoriasis (called guttate psoriasis) after a mild respiratory infection – for example, tonsillitis. This type of psoriasis usually lasts for a few months before fading.
Some people can develop psoriatic arthritis, but this is uncommon in children.
When to see your doctor about psoriasis symptoms
If your child has a rash, see your GP. The GP can advise you on the right treatment.
The GP might refer your child to a paediatric dermatologist for further assessment.
There’s no cure for psoriasis, but there are many treatments that can make the rash go away and reduce symptoms.
The right treatment for your child will depend on her age, the area of her body that’s affected, and how bad her symptoms are.
Treatment involves ointments and creams, including corticosteroids (cortisone), tar preparations and vitamin D creams (calcipotriol). If your child has widespread psoriasis, a course of ultraviolet B light might help.
In very severe cases your doctor might prescribe an immunosuppressant or biological drug.
If the psoriasis has appeared after a recent bout of tonsillitis, your doctor might also consider prescribing antibiotics.
It’s essential to moisturise your child’s skin. Use simple moisturisers like Vaseline, Dermeze, aqueous cream and sorbolene cream. This will help the skin growth and shedding rate come back to normal levels.