Parents face a dilemma when their child with psoriasis is invited to sleepover at a friend's house. On one hand, you want your son or daughter to have a circle of good friends and enjoy social activities. On the other hand, you worry you’re sending them to a home where environmental triggers, like chemicals, dust, pet dander or cigarette smoke, could potentially set off a flare.
So, what can you do to ensure your child will have a fun and safe visit at a friend's house? We asked our friend, Dr. Steven Q. Wang, for advice. He’s the co-founder of Dr. Wang Skincare, maker of natural and non-steroidal ointments for people with eczema and psoriasis, as well as director of Dermatologic Surgery and Dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
Prepare a skin care kit
If your child stays over a friend's house, you can pack a kit containing all of his or her skin-care products and medications. Here are some simple items Wang suggests you pack in the kit:
• Medications – This can include topical medications, such as steroid creams, or oral drugs, such as antihistamine pills, for controlling itch.
• Cleansers – These are bath items that your child will use. “If your child has severe psoriasis, it is advised he or she use his or her own bath soaps and shampoos,” Wang said. “By now, you know which cleansers and soaps are hypoallergenic and good for your child. Your host may not have those same items. Many households use harsh soaps that can make skin worse.”
• Moisturizers – These are lotions, emollients or ointments that your child needs to apply when he or she begins to feel itchy. Again, bring your own moisturizers because you know they work for your child.
• Sleeping Kit – This includes bedsheets, blankets, and pillows that are hypoallergenic. “It is always best for your child to sleep in bedsheets you know will not trigger a flare-up,” Wang said.
Prepare for the environment
“If your child is not old enough to take care of his or herself, it is strongly advised that you speak to the parents or hosts of where your child is staying. Let them know about your child's skin condition and any allergies he or she may have,” Wang said.
Consider suggesting some simple, non-invasive things they can do to make their house more comfortable for your child. For example, in the winter time, most houses turn the heat high for warmth and comfort, but if the temperature is too high, the ambient moisture level in the house can be low. The dry and hot air can trigger a flare. “You can simply suggest placing a humidifier in the kids' room for the night. If the hosts don't have one, you can bring one over,” Wang said.
Prepare the right clothing
Since psoriasis can be triggered by dust, heat, cigarette smoke, pet hair and other allergens, it makes sense that your child wears cool clothing at all times, Wang said. “Long-sleeved pajamas should only be worn if it is not hot and humid. This is great if the child will stay overnight.”
Children can enjoy visiting other places without having to worry about psoriasis, Wang said. All it takes is some preparation. “As a parent, these preparations can be a huge undertaking, time-consuming, and may also be embarrassing to ask for these requests,” he said. “Keep in mind that your patience will pay off once you see that big smile on your child's face.”
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