Psoriasis can be tough to treat in kids

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Hailey Cabral loves her school, and loves participating in class.  But her mother Rebecca can remember a time not long ago when she wasn't so excited.

"She didn't want to go to school anymore and people would just stare at her,” she recalled. 

Soon after moving to Land O' Lakes in 2014, Hailey started getting a terrible rash from head to toe. It was psoriasis and it made her a target at school.

She remembered one incident with a boy on her bus. "He said that I'm ugly. He was bullying me because he was curious about what it was but he was putting his anger on me."

Rebecca says her daughter's self-esteem took a big hit and she was suffering from depression. She brought Hailey to Tampa dermatologist Dr. Seth Forman. He says between two and four percent of the world's population suffers from psoriasis. Treatment for children can be especially difficult.

"One of the major limitations with children, there are very few FDA-approved systemic therapies for children,” he explained.

That forced Dr. Forman to go off-label, using medications not approved for children. When doctors do this, insurance coverage is usually denied.

They tried topical therapies, light therapy, and diet changes, but nothing was working and Hailey’s skin was getting worse.

"She would get to the point where she would itch the spot so badly that she would bleed,” Rebecca continued.

After four failed treatments, including the only FDA-approved one for children, Hailey’s body started responding to a drug called Stelara. Her rashes began disappearing. 

"I really liked it because I didn't want that bullying to happen,” she said.

While Dr. Forman is pleased he found an effective treatment for Hailey, he is still concerned future patients might not be so lucky.  "My plea is that we get more research for psoriasis patients, mainly in pediatric patients."

As for Hailey, she has learned a new lesson to take to school every day. "If there was bullying, I would stick up for them. I wouldn't be a bystander."