Discussing psoriasis with children

Discussing psoriasis with children

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Despite your child or younger family member not being the one suffering with psoriasis, they can still have questions and it can still impact them in different ways,  I want to help you give them the knowledge and confidence to speak about psoriasis with informed, educated facts.

Turning ignorance into knowledge - by sharing experiences and teaching the younger generation about psoriasis will hopefully help to raise awareness from a younger age.

Psoriasis can have a great physical, emotional and social impact on it’s sufferers. The physical itch and soreness can be relentless; the emotional implications on your confidence and self esteem can be unsparing and the social impact can affect friendships, intimate relationships and how you face the outside world.

Children don’t need to know all of the ins and outs of the condition for it to be explained to them.

Keeping things simple will mean they have a better understanding and will more likely treat the person suffering with empathy and kindness. It will also help them explain it simply to their peers.

Children are inquisitive. Anyone who has had the pleasure of having a conversation with a toddler will know the word ‘why’ is a recurrent reply. Like little sponges they notice differences around them and they want these things explained in a way they understand. Well, dear friends, that we can do. We can use that inquisitiveness to our advantage.

Answers to prep them if other people ask them about it? Teaching understanding, acceptance and giving them a way to confidently talk about it, even if they’re not the one who suffers from psoriasis. Turning ignorance into knowledge helps to breed tolerance and spread awareness.

Some things to educate children about psoriasis:

  • Psoriasis is not contagious, you can’t catch it like chicken pox.
  • Psoriasis can affect the whole body, the scalp, hands, feet, even your nails.
  • Psoriasis can be managed with medicine and taking care of yourself but currently there is no permanent cure. 
  • Psoriasis can come and go, sometimes you’ll see lots of it and other times it might be all gone.
  • Psoriasis is just skin that grows too fast.
  • Psoriasis can make the skin really itchy and sore so the sufferer might be unhappy or not feel up to playing or going out but they still need a friend and kind words to make them happy.
  • Everyone is unique and different and everyone has things that make them stand out, focus on the things the person living with psoriasis can do well, something they know lots about or why you really love them.
  • Explaining psoriasis to children

    As a community, I like to think we psoriasis sufferers are a hardy bunch. Of course it helps to have a supportive community, especially online to turn to when things get tough. In my experience the longer you suffer, over the years, you learn to ignore the stares or brush off rare, nasty comments; like brushing flakes off a black jumper.

    But how do the stares and mean comments affect the people not covered in scales and spots? Perhaps it may not be your own children but younger family members, or your friends’ kids.

    Let’s be honest - some children can be cruel. Being 'different' can lead to nastiness or in modern terms can turn into a nasty social media DM. So what if the ‘different’ thing about them isn’t theirs at all, but the skin condition of someone close to them? How do we protect the children who don’t suffer from psoriasis themselves but still get taunted or questioned about? We give them ready-made answers and facts and give them the confidence and words to speak about it.

    Being open and honest

    If children ask about psoriasis, tell them about it.  Use the proper medical terms, kids love using big, fancy words. You can also simplify it for younger children and refer to ‘special skin’ or ‘special spots’.

    Speak Positively

    How you refer to yourself or the person with psoriasis may impact how the children view it and how they speak about it to others. Try to be mindful of the language you use when referring to the skin, psoriasis or their appearance. The more positive you are, the less notice children will take. This will make them more likely to brush it off when someone else mentions it.

    Celebrate Differences

    Most children hate to be different or stand out from the crowd. So helping younger ones to spot similarities and differences and celebrate them; allowing them to see all individuals as unique and special from a young age could help them, to not only embrace their own differences, but other peoples too.

    Until there is a superhero or a princess in an animated movie proudly showing off psoriasis, we’ll have to do with educating them one child at a time! 

    UK/IE MAT-25420 Date of Preparation: May 2019

    Blog post developed in partnership with LEO Pharma.

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