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Are Certain Populations At Risk for Psoriasis?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: July 2016.

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that can cause symptoms called plaques to develop on the skin. Plaques are patches of skin that are raised, red, and covered in a layer of silvery scale. Psoriasis is a common condition that is estimated to affect more than 7 million people in the United States. Men and women are affected by psoriasis at roughly equal rates, and a person of any age can develop psoriasis, although most people first develop symptoms between the ages of 15 and 35 years.1

Can children and teens develop psoriasis?

Psoriasis that affects children and teens is called pediatric psoriasis. Although psoriasis is more common among adults, around 1 in 3 people are diagnosed before the age of 20 and 1 in 4 are diagnosed before the age of 2. The average age of onset of pediatric psoriasis is 8-11 years, and it is relatively rare among very young infants.2

Although children present with the same types of psoriasis seen in adults, the distribution and size of lesions may differ, and symptoms are more likely to be seen on the face and skin fold areas. The scalp is often the first area to be affected in children. Many children and teens who develop psoriasis will continue to have periods of flare-ups (when symptoms get worse for a time) that cycle with periods of remission (when symptoms get much better). A small percentage of children and teens will have symptoms that go away completely after a few months and do not come back.2

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Children who have family members with psoriasis are more likely to develop psoriasis during their lives. If a child has one parent with psoriasis, then the child has a 10% chance of developing it as well. If the child has two parents with psoriasis, then the risk increases to about 50%.3

Children and teens with mild to moderate psoriasis are usually treated with topical medicines applied directly to the skin; if they have more severe disease, they may need to have treatment with light therapy or stronger systemic medicines that affect the entire body to reduce psoriasis symptoms.3

Read more information about psoriasis in children and teens.

What should you know about pregnancy and psoriasis?

Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant may wonder about the effect that having psoriasis may have. The good news is that for both men and women, psoriasis does not usually affect fertility, or the ability to become pregnant. However, there are things that women with psoriasis need to be aware of if they are pregnant, try to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.4

Being pregnant will not usually cause a woman to develop psoriasis for the first time, but the average age at which women are diagnosed with the condition (around 28 years of age) also happens to be around the age when many women are thinking about having children.

Pregnancy can affect a woman’s psoriasis in different ways. Some women find that their psoriasis symptoms improve during pregnancy, and other women have the opposite experience of their symptoms getting worse4. Experiencing a psoriasis flare-up shortly after giving birth is relatively common. Women with psoriasis symptoms that affect their genitals will need to talk with their healthcare providers about the possible effects of a vaginal delivery.

Certain types of systemic psoriasis medications can be very dangerous if a woman takes them while pregnant. They can cause birth defects or miscarriage. It is extremely important to talk with your healthcare provider if you are taking any type of psoriasis medications and you are thinking about trying to get pregnant.4