Thursday, December 8th, 2011
I recently watched I’m Just Like You: Children With Psoriasis, a documentary that followed five families who are dealing with this skin condition. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when skin cells multiply up to ten times faster than normal, leaving those who are affected with painful, scaly lesions on their skin. Writer/director Fred Finkelstein–who’s had psoriasis his whole life–created the film to shine a light on the impact such an illness can have, specifically on young kids.
Before watching the film, I had no idea psoriasis was such a life-changing issue. I remember watching Kim Kardashian find out she had it during an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. I didn’t feel pity; I took her crying as an overreaction for obvious reasons (hello, spoiled celebrity!). But having the opportunity to follow young sufferers dealing with this disease daily really opened my eyes to how serious psoriasis really is. Every year, roughly 20,000 children under age 10 are diagnosed with psoriasis. The children in the film, although as young as age 6, were totally aware of the disease. They knew that one “great” week, where they had only one spot near their belly button, could drastically turn into one where they’re dealing with a fever and a dozen spots. The children shared how they were struggling with psoriasis—how they would sometimes get made fun of at school and how annoying (and smelly) applying the topical treatments really were. Six-year-old Logan describes the condition this way: “It itches and my skin bleeds a lot.”
Another girl in the movie, a high school junior named Lauren, really surprised me. At first, Lauren was introduced to us as a daughter of a dad with psoriasis. Her father struggled with the disease and feared that his teenage daughter would one day develop it. Midway through the film we find out that she does have psoriasis–but Lauren handles it in a really admirable way. She spearheaded a psoriasis-awareness walk and regularly visits elementary schools to educate young kids on the issue. She’s the perfect example of how to make the best out of an unfortunate diagnosis.
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Image: Baby hand holding mother finger via Shutterstock.