Lauren Henry, age 10, has lived with severe psoriasis, a chronic, genetic disease of the immune system that covers her body in painful lesions that crack and bleed, since age 6. She is one of the roughly 1,250 Kirkland residents suffering from this disease, which is the most common autoimmune disease in the country. It’s not contagious, but many people fear it is.
For Lauren, daily life involves aggressive treatments: she uses steroid lotions that burn her skin, sits under a light box several times a week, and treats her lesion with laser therapy for hours each week. “I feel mad and irritated sometimes because my skin hurts. I wish it would just disappear. And I want to find a cure.”
That’s why Lauren is raising awareness as the Youth Ambassador for Saturday’s Walk to Cure Psoriasis in Seattle. She wants to meet other kids with this disease, help fund research for a cure and tell others what psoriasis is really like.
“It’s not something you catch and it isn’t who you are,” she says.
Lauren, and others in Kirkland with psoriasis, not only face physical pain, but often feel embarrassed and self-conscious. This emotional impact is particularly traumatic for children, and kids with psoriasis are more likely to be bullied in school. Studies suggest that these negative experiences in adolescence may have long-term negative effects on self-esteem and anxiety levels in adulthood. Because of her psoriasis, Lauren’s also at increased risk for other serious medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity and depression. In fact, children with psoriasis have greater risk for developing heart disease later in life.
As the Youth Ambassador this weekend, Lauren leads hundreds in the movement for awareness and a cure.
Fore more information, please visit www.psoriasis.org/seattle-walk.