Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 
Home Print this page Email this page Small font size Default font size Increase font size Users Online: 504

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-8

Childhood psoriasis - Clinical manifestations

Department of Pediatrics and Dermatology, Manipal Hospital, 98, HAL Airport Road, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication23-Oct-2012

Correspondence Address:
Ravi Hiremagalore
Department of Pediatrics and Dermatology, Manipal Hospital, 98, HAL Airport Road, Bangalore - 560 017, Karnataka
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

Rights and PermissionsRights and Permissions

Psoriasis is a chronic immune mediated inflammatory disease. It has different clinical patterns in childhood. It can vary from as simple as a napkin psoriasis to pustular and erythrodermic forms. The review discusses the epidemiology, trigger factors, clinical features of childhood psoriasis including the differential diagnosis of the various patterns.

Keywords: Psoriasis, childhood, clinical patterns

How to cite this article:
Lokre S, Hiremagalore R. Childhood psoriasis - Clinical manifestations. Indian J Paediatr Dermatol 2012;13:3-8

How to cite this URL:
Lokre S, Hiremagalore R. Childhood psoriasis - Clinical manifestations. Indian J Paediatr Dermatol [serial online] 2012 [cited 2021 Sep 27];13:3-8. Available from: https://www.ijpd.in/text.asp?2012/13/1/3/102798

  Introduction Top

Psoriasis is a chronic immune-mediated inflammatory disease most commonly manifested by well-demarcated erythematous plaques with silvery white scales on the elbows, knees, scalp and trunk. Childhood psoriasis is a well-recognized entity, but its true prevalence is not known. It differs in epidemiology, clinical features, treatment options, and long-term clinical and psychological outcome. [1] This article highlights the various clinical patterns of childhood psoriasis and their differential diagnosis. The authors would like to emphasize the fact that psoriasis should be considered in the differential diagnosis of some common childhood dermatoses.

  Epidemiology Top

Psoriasis represents one of the most common skin conditions with an estimated prevalence of 1-3% worldwide. Psoriasis is a frequent condition in children, but only limited epidemiologic data are available. Various published large series have reported that of all psoriasis patients, 20 - 35% have onset of their disease before the age of 20 years. [2] It accounts for 4.1% of all dermatoses seen in children. [3]

In a study of 419 patients of childhood psoriasis from North India, it constituted 0.3% of all dermatology outpatients and 12.5% of the total psoriasis patients at a tertiary care hospital. [4] Psoriasis comprised 1.4% of all pediatric dermatoses seen in patients less than 14 years of age at a referral hospital in South India. [5]

The peak age of onset in childhood psoriasis varied in different studies. In surveys from India and Denmark, most patients developed first symptoms at the ages of 6 to 10 years, whereas other studies from the Middle East and Australia reported a peak of onset at the ages of up to 4 years. With regards to the sex predilection, studies from Denmark and Middle East have shown a female preponderance, but reports from India and Australia have documented equal sex predisposition. [6]

In children, there is a strong family history of psoriasis than in adults. Worldwide, there is an evidence of family history in 49-89% of cases where as in India, it is as low as 4.5 percent. [4] This could be related to lack of awareness of the condition in Indian patients or there were no cases in the family at the time of interview.

  Environmental Triggers Top

Psoriasis can be precipitated by several environmental triggers such as Group A β-hemolytic streptococcal infections (GABHS), [7] trauma [8] and stress. GHABS infections have been reported to precipitate not only guttate psoriasis but also pustular forms of psoriasis in children. [9] Other infectious agents that have been reported in association with psoriasis include HIV, Pityrosporum folliculitis with guttate psoriasis [10] and candida albicans [11] Drugs have been reported to induce or exacerbate psoriasis in children, such as growth hormone, lithium, β-blocking agents, and recombinant γ and α-interferon.

  Clinical Features Top

Clinical features are based on age of onset, family history and associated genetic markers.

It is classified into two types.

  1. Type I psoriasis, with an early onset, positive family history and association with HLA-Cw6, -B57 and DR7. Patients in this category tend to have more severe disease with large body areas involved and frequent recurrences [12]
  2. Type II psoriasis, with late onset (after 40 years), negative family history, and association with HLA-Cw2.

  Congenital and Infantile Psoriasis Top

Psoriasis can rarely present in infancy. In a study involving 1262 cases of childhood psoriasis in Australia, about 16% of the patients were under one year of age. [13]

In infants, there are 2 patterns of clinical presentation:

  1. Psoriatic diaper rashes - Skin lesions in the diaper area has 2 distinctive patterns: Localized psoriatic diaper rash with well demarcated bright red rashes [Figure 1] and psoriatic diaper rash with dissemination where the initial presentation is well defined erythematous plaques localized to the diaper area slowly progressing to involve other areas. The differential diagnosis includes seborrheic dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis and candida albicans infection. More sharply demarcated lesions, positive family history, presence of lesions in other areas and nail involvement favors the diagnosis of psoriasis. Also, regular follow up over a period of time to note the progression helps in making an accurate diagnosis.
    Figure 1: Psoriatic diaper rash with dissemination

    Click here to view
  2. Psoriatic erythroderma - Psoriasis in infancy can rarely present as a nonspecific erythroderma [Figure 2]. This has been documented in 4% of 51 infants in a case series. [14] Clinically, scalp hyperkeratosis and nail involvement favors the diagnosis of psoriasis. However, other causes of erythroderma have to be differentiated which includes congenital non-bullous ichthyosiform erythroderma, atopic dermatitis, combined variable immunodeficiency and Nethertons syndrome. A skin biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
    Figure 2: Erythrodermic psoriasis. Child developed it from infancy

    Click here to view

  Childhood and Adolescence Psoriasis Top

It is similar to adulthood psoriasis in many ways. As in adults, classical plaque psoriasis represents the most frequent clinical form in children. The initial manifestation of psoriasis if often triggered through an infection. The typical presentation in these cases is guttate psoriasis.

Plaque Psoriasis

Psoriasis in children may present in the typical adult form of the classic plaque type of psoriasis. However, lesions are smaller, scales are often finer in children [Figure 3]. Areas of distribution are like in the adult form with a predilection to the extensor surfaces, knees, buttocks, elbows, and scalp. The frequency of plaque psoriasis in children varies from 34%- 84%. In dark skinned children, the scale may be so subtle that the condition presents as hypopigmentation, and the scale becomes obvious when the lesions are scratched. [13],[15]
Figure 3a and b: Classic plaque type psoriasis

Click here to view

Acute Guttate Psoriasis

It is an eruption of small papules in a widespread distribution, [Figure 4] often preceded by an intercurrent illness, usually a pharyngitis or tonsillitis due to group A β-hemolytic streptococci. Occurrence of acute guttate psoriasis has been reported with frequencies of 6.4- 44%. Streptococci were isolated from throat swabs in 33 out of 34 patients (97%) and serologic evidence of streptococcal infection was demonstrated in 56-85%. [13],[15] Guttate psoriasis may later evolve into the classic plaque form or completely resolve in 3-4 months after elimination of triggering factors. This form of psoriasis has to be differentiated from pityriasis lichenoides chronic which may require a biopsy in some cases.
Figure 4a and b: Guttate psoriasis

Click here to view

Micropapular or Follicular psoriasis

Small follicular papules of 1 to 2 mm size over the extensor aspects of the limbs are found particularly in the dark-skinned children [Figure 5]. Scratching these papules reveals white scale. This form is quiet common and needs to be differentiated from atypical pityriasis rubra pilaris (PRP).
Figure 5: Follicular psoriasis

Click here to view

Facial Involvement

Psoriatic involvement of the face is more common in children than in adults, and was found in 38% of children in a case series. [13] Lesions are erythematous, well defined and less itchy than eczematous patches [Figure 6]. Presence of lesions under the eye is common and often annular forms exist. Facial involvement in Indian children is as low as 4.71%. This could be due to the exposure to intense sunlight all the year around. [4]
Figure 6: Facial involvement in psoriasis

Click here to view

Scalp Psoriasis

The scalp is a common site of disease involvement at the onset and throughout the course of psoriasis. The clinical presentations are highly variable, ranging from mild to severe disease. It is characterized by thick silvery white scale on patches of erythema. It may extend beyond the hairline. Isolated scalp involvement is also common in children. Pityriasis amiantacea is a condition of the scalp characterized by thick yellow-white scales densely coating the scalp and adhering to the scalp hairs as they exit the scalp. They resemble flakes of asbestos and depending on the underlying disorder, the scalp skin may appear normal, or may be deeply erythematous. The condition is associated with hair loss and sometimes it is difficult to comb the hair due to the adherent thick scale at the base of hair shafts. Complications such as secondary bacterial infection can occur and hair loss may be associated with scarring. Tinea capitis is an important differential diagnosis, especially in children.

Inverse Flexural Psoriasis

Inverse psoriasis is located on genital, perianal, axillary, inguinal, or periumbilical areas. It usually appears as well-demarcated glazed erythematous lesions lacking the psoriatic scale. Local factors such maceration, bacterial or fungal infections may modify or aggravate psoriasis in these locations. [13]

Palmoplantar Psoriasis

Palmoplantar psoriasis comprises approximately 4% of all psoriasis in children. Presentation varies from thick scaling with fissuring to a glazed erythema. [13],[15] This type of psoriasis is very common among Indian children which can be explained by the practices of walking barefoot and increased incidence of injuries [Figure 7]. Important differential diagnosis includes PRP, tinea pedis and dyshidrotic eczema. Lack of symptoms, nail changes and well demarcated lesions helps in the diagnosis. PRP can be differentiated on a biopsy.
Figure 7a and b: Palmoplantar psoriasis

Click here to view

Psoriatic Acral Dermatitis

This peculiar presentation of psoriasis was first described by Zaias in 1980. It is characterized by cutaneous involvement of the digits without the typical nail dystrophy of psoriasis. Features are erythema, scaling and fissures of the distal phalanges associated with shortening of the nail bed. [16]

Nail Involvement

Psoriatic nail changes have been reported in 7- 40% of children with psoriasis. Nail pitting (87%) was the most common change noted followed by onycholysis (10%), subungual hyperkeratosis (8%), and nail discoloration (5%) in one study. [17] It can be an isolated finding or associated with other forms of psoriasis [Figure 8].
Figure 8: Nail involvement in psoriasis

Click here to view

Pustular Psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis is rare and occurs more frequently in the adult population. Four forms have been described: Generalized pustular psoriasis [Figure 9], sub acute annular pustular psoriasis [Figure 10], palmoplantar pustular psoriasis [Figure 11] and pustular acrodermatitis of Hallopeau. The sub acute annular form is the most common form in children, and is characterized by annular plaques with a pustular margin. [18] Generalized pustular psoriasis of von Zumbusch is a type of acute erythroderma with diffuse pustules all over the body associated with high grade fever and constitutional symptoms. It resolves spontaneously with frequent recurrences as waves of pustules or the more classical plaque forms. It may be triggered by streptococcal infection. Localized pustular psoriasis of the palms and soles (acropustulosis) has been noted to occur rarely in children. It was found in 4.7% of childhood psoriasis cases in one study. [13]
Figure 9a and b: Generalized pustular psoriasis with erythroderma

Click here to view
Figure 10: Annular pustular psoriasis

Click here to view
Figure 11: Palmoplantar pustulosis

Click here to view

  Mucosal Involvement Top

Mucosal lesions were seen in 5.6% of children with psoriasis in one study. [17] Mucosal patches in oral or genital mucosa, oral erosions and geographic tongue were noted. It may cause a burning or stinging sensation after contact with certain foods, such as spicy or citrus foods.

  Psoriatic Arthropathy Top

It is a rare condition in children. The peak age of onset is 9-12 years, and there is a slight female predominance. [11] The pattern of arthritis and course is similar to adults. The International League Against Rheumatism [19] has proposed the following diagnostic criteria for psoriatic arthropathy in children:

  1. Arthritis and psoriasis or,
  2. Arthritis and
    1. Family history of medically confirmed psoriasis in parents or siblings
    2. Dactylitis
    3. Nail abnormalities (pitting or onycholysis)
  3. Exclusions include positive rheumatoid test and presence of systemic arthritis.
In general, skin lesions precede the onset of arthritis in 80% of cases. In children, psoriatic arthritis is initially oligoarticular involving mainly the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints of the feet and proximal interphalangeal joints of the hands and the knees and ankles. In the late stages, it tends to be polyarticular. Presence of blue discoloration over the affected joints is an important clinical clue to diagnosis. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is an important differential diagnosis. The course of psoriatic arthropathy in children is unpredictable. However, prognosis is good with minimal disease activity in adulthood.

Comorbidity of Psoriasis in Children

The overall rate of co morbidity in subjects with psoriasis aged less than 20 years was twice as high as in subjects without psoriasis. Childhood psoriasis was associated with increased rates of hyperlipidaemia, obesity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn disease. In a study examining children with at least one of 12 different skin diseases, children with psoriasis reported the greatest impairment to quality of life. Additionally, the study found that psoriasis impacts health related quality of life more than other chronic childhood conditions including epilepsy, diabetes and alopecia. [20]

The Psychosocial Impact of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis on Children

Nearly half of children with psoriasis reported being bullied in a survey conducted by the National Psoriasis Foundation. Children experience teasing, being excluded by peers, name calling, intimidation, and in some cases physical violence. The emotional impacts reported include anxiety, crying, trouble in school and difficulty in sleeping. Children with psoriasis face significant emotional and physical challenges. Compounding this, as in adults, individuals with psoriasis have an increased risk of depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies. [21]

  Conclusion Top

Psoriasis in children is not very rare and has varied clinical presentations. Each type should be differentiated from other common pediatric dermatoses. At times, skin biopsy may be needed to establish definitive diagnosis. Hence a strong index of suspicion and knowledge of the clinical patterns in children is needed for accurate diagnosis and management.

  References Top

1.Hamm H, Benoit S. Childhood psoriasis. Clin Dermatol 2007;25:555-62.   Back to cited text no. 1
2.Faber E, Nall M. The natural history of psoriasis in 5600 patients. Dermatologica 1974;148:1-18.   Back to cited text no. 2
3.Beylot C, Puissant A, Bioulac P, Saurat JH, Pringuet R, Doutre MS, et al. Particular clinical features of psoriasis in infants and children. Acta Derm Venereol Suppl (Stockh) 1979;87:95-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Kumar B, Jain R, Sandhu K, Kumar B. Epidemiology of childhood psoriasis: A study of 419 patients from northern India. Int J Dermatol 2004;43:654-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Karthikeyan K, Thappa DM, Jeevankumar B. Pattern of pediatric dermatoses in a referral center in South India. Indian Pediatr 2004;41:373-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Nyfors A, Lemholt K. Psoriasis in children. A short review and a survey of 245 cases. Br J Dermatol 1975;92:437-42.   Back to cited text no. 6
7.Wilson JK, Al-suwaidan SN, Kriowchuk D, Feldman SR. Treatment of psoriasis in children: Is there a role for antibiotic therapy and tonsillectomy? Pediatr Dermatol 2003;20:11-5.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Melski JW, Bernhard JD, Stern RS. The koebner response in psoriasis: Association with early age at onset and multiple previous therapies. Arch Dermatol 1983;119:655-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Cassandra M, Conte E, Cortez B. Childhood pustular psoriasis elicited by streptoccal antigen: A case report and review of literature. Pediatr Dermatol 2003;20:506-10.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Elewskii B. Does pityrosporum ovale have a role in psoriasis? Arch Dermatol 1990;126:1111-2.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Maroux D, defrost Y. Pediatric psoriasis revisited. J Cutan Med Surg 2002;(3 Suppl):22-8.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Henseler T. The genetics of psoriasis. J Am Acad Dermatol 1997;37:S1-11.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Morris A, Roger M, Fisher G, Williams K. Childhood psoriasis: A clinical review of 1262 cases. Pediatr Dermatol 2001;18:188-98.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Pruszkowski A, Bodemer C, Fraitag S. Neonatal and infantile erythroderma: A retrospective study of 51 patients. Arch Dermatol 2000;136:875-80.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Al-fouzan AS, Nanda A. A survey of childhood psoriasis in Kuwait. Pediatr Dermatol 1994;11:116-9.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Patrizi A, Bardazzi F, Neri I, Fanti PA. Psoriasiform acral dermatitis: A peculiar clinical presentation of psoriasis in children. Pediatr Dermatol 1999;16:439-43.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Nanda A, Al-Fouzana AS, El-Kashlan M, Al-Swieh N, Al-Muzairai I. Salient features and HLA markers of childhood psoriasis in Kuwait. Clinical Exp Dermatol 2000;205:147-51.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Liao PB, Rubinson R, Howard R, Sanchez G, Frieden IJ. Annular pustular psoriasis-most common form of pustular psoriasis in children: Report of three cases and review of literature. Pediatr Dermatol 2002;19:19-25.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Ramsey SE, Bolaria RK, Cabral DA, Malleson PN, Petty RE. Comparison of criteria for the classification of childhood arthritis. J Rheumatol 2000;27:1283-6.  Back to cited text no. 19
20.Beattie PE, Lewis Jones MS. A comparative study of impairment of quality of life in children with skin disease and children with other chronic childhood diseases. Pediatr Dermatol 2006;155:145-51.  Back to cited text no. 20
21.National Psoriasis Foundation. Nearly half of kids with psoriasis surveyed report being bullied. Available from: http://www.psoriasis.org/netcommunity/news/kids-with-psoriasis-report-being-bullied.  Back to cited text no. 21


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8], [Figure 9], [Figure 10], [Figure 11]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
Environmental Tr...
Clinical Features
Congenital and I...
Childhood and Ad...
Mucosal Involvement
Psoriatic Arthro...
Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded1644    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal