Psoriasis is commonly seen in the 15 to 35 age groups but it can occur at any age including infants. It is rare but babies have been born with psoriasis. It is more common however to see skin conditions that are similar to psoriasis in the young baby. Skin conditions that may mimic psoriasis are: cradle cap, diaper rash, ringworm and eczema.
If a baby does have psoriasis you will notice skin cells in the affected area maturing every 3 to 4 days instead of monthly. Your pediatrician can make a diagnosis and recommend treatment.
Scientists and researchers believe that an abnormal immune system may be the cause of the rapidly growing skin cells and possibly a genetic connection as well. A child may have other family members with psoriasis or the child may be the only known individual in the family with psoriasis.
An illness such as a cold, or tonsillitis, skin injuries from scratching or rubbing can trigger childhood flare-ups of guttate psoriasis. Mittens or socks place over the baby’s hands, especially during sleep will help to prevent these types of skin injuries.
Psoriasis can feel uncomfortable even painful for your child if the affected area is itchy and the child scratches it and causes it to bleed. The dry skin can crack and bleed also.
Psoriasis can sometimes be confused with eczema. The way to tell the difference is that psoriasis looks worse than eczema and is more red and scaly. Eczema is usually pink in color and less scaly but it is usually rougher in texture. Your pediatrician will examine the baby’s skin and may even take a skin biopsy if necessary to determine the diagnosis.
Psoriasis is not contagious and cannot spread to other family members or to other children in daycares, church nurseries etc. and it does not spread to other areas of the child’s own skin.
Once you baby is diagnosed with psoriasis, your baby will always have flare-ups as he/she goes through life. Different conditions (weather, environment, emotions, chemicals) can trigger flare-ups. The condition will clear up for a while (remission), only to reappear later in response to a condition such as weather changes, stress, skin irritants.
A dermatologist or your pediatrician can help you to soothe your babys skin during flare-ups and design a treatment plan around your babys needs. As your baby grows the triggers may change and so will the treatment. There are many community and online sources for support and information. Your pediatrician or dermatologist can lead you to good sources of information.
School aged kids and teens will need to cope with fielding questions from peers as to what is wrong with their skin. They may feel isolated if others reject them or tease them when they have flare-ups. Group meetings for kids or private counseling sessions may help your child learn coping skills that will assist him/her in dealing with social situations at school at elsewhere.