The Importance of Explaining Psoriasis to Children

With years of explaining and researching psoriasis, I am equipped and ready for most questions a curious adult would ask me about the condition.

When faced with a curious toddler or small child, I have proven myself to be totally useless at explaining myself. I have an amazing little girl who is feisty and currently heading for the beautiful age of five. This age has you encountering a good amount of small people. They are very inquisitive with zero social filters.

Children will say the darndest things about psoriasis

This is actually part of the reason that I adore them so much. I love that kids ask questions and I encourage my daughter to ask questions. I believe it teaches an important lesson in empathy and acceptance of people who look and are different from the societal norms.

In the last week, if I have been asked once, what is wrong with my skin, I have been asked a hundred times. I fetch my daughter from kindergarten daily and every day one or more kids will notice my skin and the questions flow. With the questions come a variety of faces and reactions.

Sometimes I will be honest, sometimes it hurts as their little faces cannot lie and their reactions are pure. I would, however, have that any day over the hushed tones of adults, who in my opinion, should know better.

Finding a way to explain psoriasis

So how to deal with kids and the questions; I start with something simple: like my skin is sick. This has one of two impacts in my experience. They are oftentimes satisfied and will walk away or kindly offer to put a cast on it.

Some are smart enough to tell me that I need to go to the doctor. Other kids will simply duck and run as it is more than they are willing to deal with or they are just grossed out. I have made peace with that. Believe me, they will be back tomorrow to ask again. 

Every now and then I am blessed to be encountered with a little soul that wants to know more. I will then try and explain in an age-appropriate way that my body gets a little confused and makes these spots as a way of showing me that it’s not happy. I will add that my body is asking me to rest and take it easy, this satisfies the vast majority of the curious ones.

How to normalize psoriasis for children

The last question that comes from kids is: “Can I touch it?”. This is my favorite part! My answer is always yes. You heard me, always. I want to normalize how kids see us and I want them to not be afraid.

It is normally quite something to see the reactions, some will stroke my skin over and over and ask if it hurts. If it does, I will answer: "Yes it does, but I do not mind if you touch it." Afterward, I will ask them to look at their own fingers. When they ask why the answer is simple. There is nothing on your skin after touching mine. So you do not need to be scared of it.

I try to approach it with as much kindness and positivity as I can. To change how we are viewed and not just us, anyone with a physical disability. I do believe that allowing children to ask without being scared is key to expanding their knowledge and empathy.

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