Of course, they can. I got psoriasis at 5 years old. This is a picture of me and my younger sisters one year before I was diagnosed with psoriasis. Picture left is baby sister Carolyn, middle sister Sylvia and myself Diane to the right. This is year 1962.
Reddened, inflamed, itchy areas on the children’s skin usually suggest neurodermatitis, and doctors often don’t even suspect these symptoms to be a form of psoriasis. This means a delay in the right therapy and a lot of unnecessary suffering for children affected.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease, which is characterized by sharply, reddened, thickened skin areas covered by silvery scales. The symptoms of psoriasis in children are often not as typical as in adults. Dandruff is often less found, and the inflamed, often itchy skin areas resemble eczema, which is characteristic of atopic dermatitis. Unlike adults, in whom psoriasis plaques often occur on the elbows or knees, psoriasis-like neurodermatitis – can also affect the flexor side of the arms or the back of the knees in children.
The risk of confusing psoriasis in children with eczema is high. If an alleged neurodermatitis does not respond to the prescribed therapy, this can be an important indication that it is actually psoriasis. If psoriasis is mistaken for neurodermatitis and is therefore not adequately treated, this can unnecessarily prolong the suffering for those affected – and the whole family as well.
The dermatologist knows that the noticeable skin changes in psoriasis often mean a real stigma. Children are often subjected to bullying and peer pressure and they are ashamed to show skin in the swimming pool or during sports activities. Adolescents fear that they will be mistaken for contagious or dirty, so they will avoid making new contacts and their first intimate relationships will be burdened by the fear of rejection. This affects the development of self-confidence and self-esteem. It can be difficult to start your professional life if the changes to your nails and hands impair fine motor skills or are a reason for you to be rejected by customers, or if dandruff on your jacket or blouse disturbs your well-groomed appearance.
In addition, the inflammatory processes underlying psoriasis affect not only the skin but the entire organism. Even in childhood, so-called psoriatic arthritis can be accompanied by painful inflammation of the joints. The risk of concomitant diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or lipid metabolism disorders is increased, especially in moderate and severe forms of psoriasis. Overweight, on the other hand, which is further promoted by avoiding sporting activities, has an unfavorable effect on skin disease, but is also an additional risk factor for comorbidity. Depression and anxiety disorders are also more common in people with psoriasis than in healthy people.