If your child has been diagnosed with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis (PsA) you may have questions about who should be on your child’s health care team.
Given psoriasis and PsA are chronic (lifelong) diseases, it’s important to build a health care team who will work with you and your child to help manage symptoms and treatments to keep your child healthy.
In addition to your child’s primary care provider (PCP) or pediatrician who is responsible for your child’s overall health, your child’s health care team may need to include health care providers such as:
A dermatologist: a doctor specializing in the diagnosis and care of diseases that affect the skin, scalp, hair, and nails. You may also work with a Nurse Practitioner (NP) or Physician Assistant (PA) who specializes in dermatology.
A rheumatologist: a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases that impact the joints, muscles, and bones. If your child experiences inflammation, pain, and fatigue in those areas, consider asking for a referral to a rheumatologist. You may also work with an NP or PA who specializes in rheumatology.
A mental health care provider such as a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health diseases such as anxiety and/or depression. Children with a chronic, visible disease such as psoriasis are at higher risk of anxiety or depression. You may also work with social workers, nurses, nurse practitioners, or school counselors who deal with issues of mental health.
NPF recommends finding a health care provider who has experience in treating psoriasis and/or PsA in children. Since psoriatic disease can cause inflammation in other areas of the body, you may need to ask your child’s PCP for a recommendation to additional specialists (for example a gastroenterologist, who specializes in diseases that affect the stomach and intestines) to add to your child’s health care team as needed.
If you need help finding a health care provider for your child’s health care team:
After your first visit, ask if telehealth visits are available for subsequent visits if travel to the health care provider’s office is an issue.
Tips on Building Communication Between Health Care Providers
Adding health care providers to your child’s health care team may bring communication issues. You can help promote regular communication between your child’s health care providers by:
Make a list of your child’s health care providers and give each provider the list of names and contact information. By developing such a list and keeping it up-to-date you also have the contact information available should you need it for an emergency. Be sure to include your pharmacist’s name and contact information along with your child’s school nurse. They are part of your child’s health care team too.
Sign the appropriate consent forms from your child’s health care clinic giving health care providers permission to communicate and share health records with each other when needed on behalf of your child’s care.
While communication may come naturally between some providers, thanks in part to the use of electronic medical records (EMR), sometimes you may need to take a more active role on behalf of your child’s care. For example, ask the rheumatologist to speak with your child’s dermatologist to ensure your child is receiving treatment that effectively manages both psoriasis and PsA. Encourage your child’s health care providers to work together as a team to help provide the best care possible.
Preparing for Your Child’s Health Care Visits
Psoriasis and PsA are complex, chronic conditions that require lifelong disease management. Working as a team you can help your child manage their disease and live a healthy life.
Tips to help make the most of your time with your child’s health care provider(s) include:
Discuss With Your Child
Before the appointment, discuss any new symptoms or concerns your child may have to help identify issues that impact your child’s life. Ask: • Do you have any joint pain or skin lesions in new locations? • Does the itch or pain interfere with school, activities, or sleep? • Are you embarrassed by your symptoms? • Do you have friends you feel comfortable being around? • Do you have the energy to do the activities you love to do? • Have you been feeling down or sad in the last two weeks?
Keep a Symptom Journal
Use the journal to track your child’s symptoms, including changes, triggers, and treatment outcomes. This information can guide the development of your questions and helps assess how effective your child’s treatment plan is. Take this journal to your child’s health care appointments. Download your free Symptom Tracker for Youth.
Identify Your Priority Questions
Use the journal to identify and write down questions you and your child may have. Keep in mind your time is limited so you may need to prioritize your top three questions.
If a new treatment is suggested, ask your child’s health care provider when and how the medication is to be taken, how quickly it works, and what the common side effects will be.
Bring a List of Medications
Take a list of your child’s current and past medications and any over-the-counter products your child uses to the appointment (especially if you are seeing a new health care provider). Be sure to identify treatments that didn’t work and any adverse effects that your child experienced. Also include treatments for other health conditions beyond psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis to help avoid any issues between prescribed medications. Such information will help as you discuss a new treatment plan or if changes need to occur.
Identify a Treatment Goal
Talk with your child and your child’s health care provider about setting a realistic goal about how much improvement to expect from the treatment choice after a certain amount of time. Setting a treatment goal helps to determine if the treatment is working or if another treatment needs to be considered. Be open with your child’s health care provider about any concerns you have and if you feel you and your child may not be able to follow the treatment plan.
Appointment Prep Kit
Request your Appointment Prep Kit to learn more about what you can do to prepare for your child’s health care appointments.