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For Kids

Welcome to Our Spot! We hope you’ll take time to look at all the information we’ve put together just for you. Whether you’ve had psoriasis for a while or were just diagnosed, Our Spot teaches you about psoriatic disease and how to care for it, while having fun along the way.

Check back often to see what’s new and to hear what other kids have to say about psoriatic disease. You can submit your story, too. We want to hear from you and hope you’ll join our community.

 

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What’s psoriasis?

  • Does your skin have areas of red patches with dry skin and white flakes? Does it have small red dots?
  • Does it have pain with the red patches?
  • Does it itch?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you may have been told you have psoriasis. (That’s pronounced “sore-EYE-ah-sis.”)

So what is psoriasis?

Psoriasis happens when skin cells grow faster than usual. In people who don’t have psoriasis, skin cells fall off after 28 to 30 days. Can you guess how fast skin cells grow in psoriasis?

That’s right! In psoriasis, skin cells grow in three to four days. (Wow, that’s more than 7-10 times faster!) This happens so fast that old skin cells mix with new skin cells as they reach the surface. This causes raised red patches of skin with silvery white scales known as plaques or scale. (“Plaques” is pronounced “plaeks.”) Redness and itching happen when all the extra skin cells pile up making the skin under it become inflamed (sore and swollen).

Psoriasis tends to come and go. Learn what causes your psoriasis to flare.

There are five different types of psoriasis.

  • Plaque psoriasis
  • Guttate (“GUH-tate”) psoriasis

Psoriasis can show up anywhere on the body. But most often it’s on the elbows, knees and scalp. Sometimes it happens on the palms of your hands, bottom of your feet, lower back, face or private parts of your body.

Why do you have psoriasis?

Scientists have been studying psoriasis for a long time, but they still don’t know why psoriasis happens. They do know it has something to do with your immune system.

The immune system is the parts of your body that work to fight sickness and prevent diseases. These parts of the body work to send out and receive signals to keep you from getting sick. It’s your defense system. Your skin is part of your immune or defense system. Your skin protects the inside of your body from germs and a lot of other things on the outside.

In psoriasis, your immune system changes its signals and instead sends out signals that speed up the time it takes to grow skin cells. This happens so fast that the old skin cells don’t have time to fall off.

What is skin?

Your skin covers your body to keep it safe. It has four layers. The top layer you see every day is called the keratin (“ker-atin”) layer. This is where the dead skin cells occur. They protect the layers underneath. The dead skin cells are always being replaced with new cells that move up from the layer below. (In psoriasis, this is where the old cells pile up and mix with the new cells.)

The layer where the new skin cells grow is called the epidermis (“epi-dermis”). This is also the layer that gives your skin color. This layer is fed by blood vessels from the layer below, which is called the dermis.

The dermis is a lot thicker than the epidermis. This layer is very elastic, which is why your skin can stretch and move. The dermis contains sweat glands with tiny tubes leading to the surface that help you sweat and cool your skin. This is also the layer where hair on the skin grows from and where there are nerve endings that sense heat, cold and pain.

The last layer is called subcutaneous (“sub-qu-tey-nee-uhs”) tissue, which is where fat is stored to keep the body warm if it’s cold or cool when it’s hot.

You didn’t catch psoriasis from anyone. It’s not an allergy. And you didn’t do anything to make psoriasis happen. Psoriasis usually runs in families. Just like you have your mother’s eyes or grandmother’s nose, you might have a cousin, aunt or uncle, brother, sister or parent who has psoriasis. Psoriasis is now just another part of you. There are actions you can take to live in your skin and be happy! Learn more about what you can do.

The good news is you’re NOT alone. There are nearly 8 million people with psoriasis in the United States and about 20,000 kids are diagnosed with psoriasis every year.

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What’s psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis (pronounced “sore-ee-AT-ic ar-THRI-tis”) is a disease that causes joints (the places where bones connect to each other) to swell and ache. Almost one out of every three people with psoriasis also develops psoriatic arthritis. Some people have psoriatic arthritis and never get psoriasis.

Swollen joints hurt, making it hard to move. In the morning, joints hurt more and feel stiff because you haven’t been moving around much while sleeping. With psoriatic arthritis, you can’t stretch as far or move as much. You may also feel tired all the time. Activities, such as playing outside, running, walking or lacing your shoes, can become harder.

What causes psoriatic arthritis?

Scientists are not exactly sure why it happens. Here’s what we know about psoriatic arthritis:

  • For the most part, psoriatic disease is genetic, meaning it runs in the family. Sometimes people without a family history also have it.
  • Psoriatic arthritis is caused by an overactive (too active) immune system, which makes joints swell up and hurt.
  • Something inside or outside your body may trigger psoriatic arthritis. Examples include the weather or stress (constant worry).

As with psoriasis, you can’t catch psoriatic arthritis from anyone. Psoriatic arthritis can develop at any age, but typically happens during adulthood. Not everyone with psoriasis will get psoriatic arthritis. For people who eventually develop both, psoriasis usually comes first.

If you have psoriatic arthritis, you are NOT alone. Other kids – and lots of adults – have psoriatic arthritis, too. If you know three adults with psoriasis, chances are one of them will get psoriatic arthritis.

You can still be active even if you have psoriatic arthritis. Learn more about the activities you can do.

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I’m OK living in my skin

Not only does psoriasis affect your skin, it can also affect how you view yourself. You might feel like you’re different from everyone else because you have psoriasis. You may feel scared or even mad. These are normal feelings to have. Learning to live with – and accept your skin – can make a big difference in how you feel about your psoriasis.

Let’s take a look at how you’re feeling today. Which emotion best describes you?

  • Joyful
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Awful
  • Confident
  • Lonely
  • Embarrassed
  • Anxious
  • Disappointed

Each of these feelings is part of who you are.

You may feel joyful on days when your psoriasis is improving. Other days, when your psoriasis is flaring, you may feel sad and want to hide. You’re embarrassed and you think everyone’s staring at you. You’re afraid nobody will want to be your friend. You don’t feel normal.

But you are normal. Every person is different. Some are short, and others are tall. Some wear glasses or braces. Psoriasis is just part of who you are. It’s what makes you unique. Here are some tips to help you accept yourself.

  • Look for reasons to like yourself! Do you have a good sense of humor? Are you kind to others? Do you do well in school or sports? Don’t focus on your psoriasis. Focus on your strengths instead.
  • Find ways to express yourself. Write in a journal, draw a picture or scream into a pillow to release the bad feelings. If you like music, try playing an instrument or writing a song.
  • Turn bad thoughts into good ones. Learn to spot and stop bad thoughts. Don’t hide your psoriasis. Use it as a chance to educate others. Here’s an example about getting invited to a sleepover at a friend’s house.

Bad thought: You’re worried your friend will look at you differently when he sees your psoriasis. You feel sad and don’t want to go.

Good thought: You can still have fun with your friend. If you haven’t already, tell your friend you have psoriasis. (Your parent should also talk with your friend’s parent before you go.) Let him know that you have to bring medication and explain why. This way, you can focus on having fun instead of focusing on your psoriasis.

  • Don’t let anyone (except your parents or doctor) tell you how you should look or feel. Don’t doubt yourself based on what other people say. Surround yourself with positive friends and relatives who accept you. Stay away from the negative people who don’t support you.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself! Don’t assume other kids will stay away because of your skin. It could be your attitude or maybe they don’t know what to say. Take the time to explain to others why your skin is different and they might understand better than you expect them to. If someone is not understanding, then he isn’t worthy of your friendship.
  • Try not to focus on your skin. The less you focus on your skin, the less others will focus on your skin. Don’t be afraid to show people who you are on the inside.

Your feelings are real. Don’t ignore them. Know that you’ll be OK living in your skin.

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What Can I Do?

If you are new to psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, you may be wondering what you can do. Even though your parents will keep up with most of your care, there are a few things you can do to take care of yourself. As you grow older, you’ll become more active in your own care. For now:

Take your medicine as your doctor requested.
No matter what the medicine, if you don’t use it, it won’t help clear your psoriasis or reduce the swelling and joint pain from psoriatic arthritis. The medicines you take for psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis act differently. They can help do all of the following:

  • Slow skin cell growth
  • Control the soreness and reduce redness on the skin.
  • Remove the white, silvery scale
  • Stop the itch and make the skin feel smooth
  • Decrease joint swelling and pain

Your parents will work with your doctor to decide the best medicine for you based on how much psoriasis you have and if you have psoriatic arthritis. They will also help you when it’s time to take your medicine as your doctor requested. Some medicines, like shots, will be given by your parents or doctor.

Medicine takes time to work, so stick with it. It may take up to three to six months before your skin or joints feel better. At some point, you may need to change your medicine to one that is stronger or that works in a different way. Your parents and doctor will help decide that with you.

See your doctor as asked
When you see your dermatologist (a special doctor who takes care of skin, hair and nails), he will decide how often you need to visit to talk about your psoriasis and medication options. Usually visits occur every three to six months.

Your dermatologist will study your skin closely and ask lots of questions. He may do some tests to see how you are doing on the medicine. As you grow and understand more about psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, talk with your dermatologist about your medications and what to expect, as well as your feelings. Your dermatologist can work with you to help clear your skin.

If you have psoriatic arthritis, your parents may take you to see a rheumatologist (a doctor who takes care of joints and muscles that are sore and painful). Your rheumatologist will also ask questions and run tests to decide how best to help you. Medication used to treat psoriatic arthritis may also be used to help clear your skin.

Keep track of what makes your psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis worse.
Psoriasis tends to come and go. There are some things that can make your psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis worse, or flare. A flare means something that suddenly burns or increases in strength.

Another word for flare is “trigger.” Some things that can make your psoriasis and/or your psoriatic arthritis worse include:

  • Strep throat, colds or flu
  • Stress (constant worry)
  • Being mad or upset
  • Cuts, scratches, sunburns, rashes or rubbing
  • Injury to a joint area
  • Changes in the weather

Tell your parents if you think something has caused your psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis to flare. They can keep track of this in the Symptom Tracker Journal that is free with the Our Spot Welcome Kit. This information will help your doctor as you discuss your medication options.

Eat right and play by making good choices
Tell your parents if you think something has caused your psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis to flare. They can keep track of this in the symptom tracker that is free with the Our Spot Welcome Kit. This information will help your doctor as you discuss your medication options.

Talk about your feelings
Do you feel embarrassed, alone or afraid? These are all feelings that other kids who have psoriasis feel. It’s OK to feel this way. You can feel great when your psoriasis isn’t flaring. But when psoriasis does flare, you may feel embarrassed. You might not want to show your psoriasis and cover it up with long sleeves or pants. That’s your choice. Talk with your parents, a friend who understands or your dermatologist about how you feel about your psoriasis. They can help you see what really matters – YOU! Psoriasis is not who you are. Talking about how you feel about your psoriasis will help you feel better!

Learn more and educate others
The more you learn about psoriasis, the more you’ll learn what to do to help yourself. Learn from other kids who have psoriasis. Read what you can here at Our Spot and come back as new information is posted. Don’t forget to educate others, too. The more they know about psoriasis, the more accepting they’ll become.

Talk with your parents about what to tell your friends and others about your psoriasis. Most people just want to know what it is, how you got it and if they can get it. You can share as much or as little information as you want.

By taking these actions, you can help your psoriasis when it flares. You can help it get better and keep your stress down. In time, these actions will become easier and you’ll feel stronger about yourself and dealing with your psoriasis.

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Telling My Friends

It’s up to you if you want to tell your friends you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. You can choose when and how much to tell them. Or you can choose not to say anything. Most people, though, want to know how psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis affects you and what they can do to help you.

If you choose to say something you can say something like “I have a skin disease called psoriasis that causes my skin cells to grow too fast. It itches and sometimes hurts, but I use medicine to help my skin get better. It’s something I was born with. Don’t worry, no one can catch it from me.” And then move to something like “Hey, do you want to go shoot some hoops?”

If you have psoriatic arthritis, try “I have a skin disease that also makes my joints hurt. Sometimes it takes me longer to walk to the classroom or I can’t do some of the things you do because of the swelling and stiffness. It’s not like this all the time. I take medication to help me feel better.”

If friends want to know how to help you, tell them what they can do to help you without making you feel helpless. Let them know you can still go skateboarding, go to the park or other activities, but some days you may not be as active as other days.

You can learn tips from “Bernie’s Secret” about how he let classmates know about his psoriasis.

Remember, you can be friends with whoever you want. A true friend is someone who is there to talk with and tells you, “You can do anything you want to.”

Here’s some good advice from Andy M., who was diagnosed with psoriasis at age 4: “Surround yourself with friends who accept and support who you are. Ignore the ones who want to bring you down because of your psoriasis.”

Bullying

Sometimes people who don’t know about psoriasis jump to conclusions about your skin and may make fun of you. This isn’t fair and it doesn’t make sense. For some people, you can try to teach them about psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis and they’ll understand and stop. But sometimes that doesn’t work and teasing occurs. You now find yourself being bullied. What is bullying?

Bullying includes:

  • Teasing
  • Talking about hurting someone
  • Spreading rumors (saying something about you that isn’t true)
  • Leaving you out of something on purpose
  • Hitting or yelling

If this is happening to you, how does it make you feel?

  • Different
  • Weak
  • Not popular
  • Sad, lonely or nervous
  • Sick
  • Not want to go out to play or go to school
  • Unsafe
  • Like you want to hit back

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, there are some actions you can take. First, keep in mind that bullying is never OK and it’s not your fault. Kids who bully have problems, too. Some bullies think it will help them fit in. For others, it’s all about feeling better than others. Or perhaps they are being bullied, too, and need help. Whatever the reason, it’s not OK.

What actions can you take?

  1. Realize you are not alone. If you are being bullied, talk with an adult you trust. There are lots of adults who are willing to help you – and yes, you should say something to an adult. Talk with your parent(s), grandparents, aunts/uncles, teachers, counselors or doctor. Find someone who is willing to take action. Telling someone is not bad. If the bully threatens you, it’s because he/she doesn’t want to be in trouble. If you don’t say anything, the bullying will continue.
  2. Feel good about yourself. Stand tall! Feeling good about yourself and how you look can make you feel strong. Psoriasis is just one part of you, like the color of your eyes. It doesn’t make you who you are. Stand tall and you’ll send a message, “Don’t mess with me.” Bullies tend to bully kids who don’t stick up for themselves.
  3. Get a buddy (and be a buddy). Two is better than one. Plan to walk with a friend on the way to school, recess, at lunch or wherever you think the bully might show up. Offer to do the same for your friend if they have bullying trouble, too.
  4. Don’t be a bully back. Even though you might want to, don’t hit, kick or push the bully. This might make the bully want to do more to you and someone could get hurt. You’ll also get in trouble. If you feel angry or upset, find a way to distract yourself such as count backwards from 100. Bullies want a big reaction. Don’t give it. Walk away and stay with others. Stay safe and get help from an adult.
  5. What if you see someone being bullied and you don’t know what to do? The best thing to do is go and get an adult who can stop the bullying. Sometimes bullies stop once a teacher finds out because they don’t want their parents to find out.

You can also work with your parents to come up with an action plan against bullying. Describe what’s happening, who’s involved and the location. Now discuss what you would like to do about it and what steps you can take to help make your plan happen, including who can help and what they can do.

If you want to practice how you’ll react to a bully, try Cool School (requires Adobe Flash Player). Cool School will place you in different situations. You choose how to respond.

Remember: Bullying is wrong! Nobody should be mean to anyone. Everyone is different. Everyone deserves respect!

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Eat Right and Play

Taking medication for your psoriasis isn’t the only thing you can do to help your body feel good. Eating right and being active every day can help your body feel good inside and out. The types of foods you eat and the activities you choose to do can help your body:

  • Grow
  • Build strong bones and muscles
  • Think better
  • Produce more energy
  • And lower the chance of other diseases later in life, like heart disease or diabetes.

You might be wondering, OK, well, what can I do? There’s a lot you can do!

Eat more fruits and vegetables

You’ve heard this before, but its’ true: Eating more fruits and vegetables really does help! Fruits and vegetables help give your body the vitamins it needs to do everything we listed above.

Other games to play

MyPlate Grocery Store Bingo

MyPlate Kid’s Place

Eat fewer snacks and make good choices

Snacks between meals help you keep up your energy, but too many of the wrong kinds of snacks aren’t good for you. When you’re young, you have a smaller stomach. You need to eat every three to four hours. However, what you choose to eat can make all the difference. Snacks made from fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy or whole grains are good choices. Limit snacks that are high in sugar or fat, and watch the amount of sugar in drinks, too.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are great snacks, and they’re quick. Here are a few to try. Be sure to ask an adult for help!

Taste the rainbow! Choose vegetables in many colors, such as slices of cucumbers, yellow or orange peppers, broccoli, carrots or celery. Ask an adult to help you make the slices. Dip in low-fat dressing or hummus.

Create a fruitsicle!

Be sure to ask an adult for help! All you need is your favorite fruit and vanilla yogurt.

Instructions:

  1. Fill popsicle molds halfway with yogurt.
  2. Press fruit into the molds until the yogurt reaches the top.
  3. Place popsicle sticks in the molds and freeze overnight.

Email your favorite fruit and veggie snacks to [email protected] and we’ll place your ideas on Our Spot!

Ever wonder how much added sugar is in your favorite drink? Try this experiment to find out. Don’t do this without help from an adult!

Instructions:

  1. Pour your favorite drink into a pot and boil on the stove. Don’t use a lid!
  2. When there’s very little liquid left, turn the heat down and allow the rest of the liquid to boil out until only hard crystals remain.
  3. This is how much sugar is in your drink! Try it with some others to compare the amount of sugar.

This is why you should drink more water. Water can help get rid of your thirst and it doesn’t contain any of the added sugar.

Ever wonder what’s in your food? Try the Smash Your Food app!

Be active every day

Here’s a list of activities to do with friends:

  • Tag. If you get tagged, you’re it!
  • Duck, Duck, Goose
  • Simon Says
  • Build an obstacle course
  • Capture the flag
  • Be competitive: See who can do the most push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks and more!
  • Jump rope or hopscotch

Mix it up

Sure, playing a computer game or watching TV can be fun, but it’s not the same as moving your body. If you do want to play computer games, spend no more than two hours a day. It’s best to mix it up between playing indoors and outdoors to help your body grow as strong as it can be.

Here’s a great way to combine both – watching TV and being active to build strength and balance. Try an adventure with Cosmic Kids Yoga Harry Potter or go on a bear hunt!

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