Psoriasis is a chronic scaly skin disorder characterized by frequent remissions and recurrences. The skin--especially of the scalp, elbows, knees, chest, back, arms, legs, toenails, fingernails, and the fold between the buttocks -- is involved. Psoriasis begins in late childhood or young adulthood and continues throughout life.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Psychotherapy or counseling (sometimes) to help in adapting to the disorder.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSSkin areas that are slightly raised, have red borders, and are covered with large white or silver-white scales. The areas crack and become painful.
Unknown, but probably caused by autoimmune disorder.
RISK FACTORSRheumatoid arthritis.
Infections (viral and bacterial) elsewhere in the body.
Family history of psoriasis.
Genetic factors. Persons with psoriasis have HLA antigens, and the incidence is highest among Caucasians.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCECannot be prevented at present.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood tests.
Secondary bacterial infection in the affected areas.
Generalized secondary bacterial infection--sometimes fatal--characterized by the eruption of many pustules, fever, and joint pain.
Your child's symptoms can be controlled but not cured. The disease may have long periods of inactivity. In females, severity decreases during pregnancy.
HOME CAREInstructions for your child:
Maintain good skin hygiene with daily baths or showers.
Avoid skin injury, including harsh scrubbing, which can trigger new outbreaks.
Avoid skin dryness to decrease the frequency of recurrences. To reduce scaling, use non-prescription waterless cleansers and hair preparations containing coal tar or cortisone.
Expose skin to moderate amounts of sunlight as often as possible.
Oatmeal baths may loosen scales. Use 1 cup of oatmeal to a tub of warm water.
Move to a warm climate, if possible. Severity increases during cold weather.
MEDICATIONOintments containing coal tar.
Topical cortisone drugs to use under plastic dressings.
Immunosuppressive drugs (severest cases).
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your doctor may prescribe the following to decrease inflammation and scaling:
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes. Encourage your child to stay in life's mainstream.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of psoriasis, or symptoms recur after treatment.
During an outbreak, pustules erupt on the skin, accompanied by fever, muscle aches, and fatigue.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.