Emotional Impact

More than skin deep.

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (together called psoriatic disease) affects your child physically and emotionally. Talking about feelings is just as important as managing the physical aspects.

 
A young girl sits at a table doing homework looking frustrated.

What Can I Do?

Be supportive, but don’t focus too much on the disease.

If you use embarrassed or negative tones, your child may feel that psoriatic disease is something to be ashamed of. It isn’t.

Acknowledge the management aspects of the disease, but focus more on your child as an individual and their day-to-day accomplishments, such as “What happened in school today?” or “Wow, you played a great game tonight.”

Help your child identify and express feelings. Depending on the age, emojis may help. Does your child feel anger, frustration, or confusion as to why psoriasis is flaring again, or like it is their fault because they did something to cause the flare? Does your child ask, “Why me?”

Reassure your child that these emotions are normal. They did not do anything wrong. Talk about potential triggers and make journal notes in a symptom tracker to discuss with your child’s doctor. You could say, “Having psoriasis is just like having blue eyes or brown hair. It’s part of who you are. It’s not your fault,” or “It’s not clear why some people have it and others don’t.”

Be careful what you say about your child covering up signs of psoriasis. Encouraging your child to cover up may make your child feel different and that you are embarrassed by how they look. Let your child decide if they want to flaunt their flares and teach others about the disease. If your child feels more comfortable covering up, let that be their choice to do so. Be patient and encourage your child to build self confidence in who they are as an individual who happens to have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Talk with your child about how to tell others about their psoriatic disease.

A teenage girl in the foreground looking upset while a teenage boy and girl in the background point and laugh while looking at a cell phone.

Bullying

Sometimes kids with psoriasis become a target for teasing or bullying because they’re perceived as being different.

A teenage girl looks out the window looking sad.

Depression

People with psoriatic disease are at higher risk for developing depression. It is important as a parent to recognize the signs of depression and obtain help for your child. Depression in youth is often misdiagnosed.

Dealing With Your Own Emotions

Sometimes the biggest hurdle in dealing with your child’s psoriatic disease is your own emotions about the diagnosis. You could be feeling a sense of guilt or anger, fear of complications, or what this means for your child’s future. These are valid feelings, but it is the perspective you bring that can make a difference for how you, your child, and your family cope with psoriatic disease.

Here are some of the best tips from families that successfully cope with psoriatic disease:

  • Learn to accept the diagnosis. Move on, however long it takes. Your attitude can affect your child if they sense frustration, negative thoughts, or guilt. Focus on what you can do to keep your child as healthy and happy as possible.
  • Siblings have feelings too. They may feel scared that they will get psoriasis. Or jealous and angry about the extra attention their sibling is receiving. They may also feel upset if their sibling is teased. Have an honest conversation about what having psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis means for the whole family. Answer questions and listen to concerns. Discuss how you can all help your child with psoriatic disease.
  • Learn to divide tasks. Take turns going to the doctor for appointments or involve siblings in tasks. Also, with a little education about the disease, there is no reason why your child can not sleep over at a friend’s house or stay with grandparents for the weekend.
  • Do not lose sight of your own needs. Maintain meaningful relationships with other adults, family, and friends. To be strong for your child, you must have a strong inner self. Take care of yourself before you start to feel resentment and anger.

Resources

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Patient Navigation Center

The Patient Navigation Center offers free, personalized guidance and support for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Contact the PNC
Teenage girl looks in the mirror at herself and is upset.

What is Body Dysmorphia?

If your child is struggling with how their body looks and psoriasis, listen to this Psound Bytes™ podcast episode with psychiatrist Dr. Vanessa Cutler. Learn about body dysmorphia symptoms and its relationship to psoriatic disease and self-esteem.

Listen now
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Connect with Other Parents

Talk to a parent whose child has psoriatic disease through our One to One program.

Get connected

Care Partner Booklet

Find more advice on how to best support your loved ones with psoriatic disease in NPF's free Care Partner Booklet.

Get your booklet

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