Autoimmune Diseases In Children

Childhood may hold some of the best times of our lives, and though much of childhood might seem carefree, when you add an autoimmune disorder into the equation, things tend to get a bit complicated – and scary – for both the child and the parent.

An autoimmune disorder in children is considered rare, but it’s important to know that these diseases are on the rise. As a parent, it’s also important that you’re aware of the signs and symptoms of these diseases so that you can seek a proper diagnosis and treatment for your child. That’s why in this article we’ve included which autoimmune diseases are most common in children and their symptoms. 

If you’d like to learn more, or if you believe that your child may have an autoimmune disorder, schedule a consultation with Dr. Autoimmune today.

Autoimmune Disorders in Children

Aside from Celiac Disease, most pediatric autoimmune diseases are uncommon. However, autoimmune diseases in children often prove to be the most challenging for providers who practice functional medicine.

When treating autoimmune diseases in children, providers often take a collaborative approach with both diagnosis and treatment in order to give a more thorough evaluation. 

The most common autoimmune diseases in children include the following:

Each autoimmune disease referenced above attacks the body in a different way. And in order to know if your child has a specific type of autoimmune disorder, it’s helpful to know a little about each – and its identifying symptoms.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is the most commonly diagnosed autoimmune disease in children – more commonly associated with children aged 3 or under. It’s also important to note that this disease typically occurs after wheat or gluten is introduced to the child – usually when a child is between six to nine months old. However, some children may develop the condition several years later.

If you suspect your child may have celiac disease, he or she may exhibit one or a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Headaches 
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic melancholy
  • Constipation
  • Colic
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain (cramps)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue

Severe cases of celiac disease in children may begin first with diarrhea that persists day after day. Then weight loss or dehydration typically follows. 

If this is the case, it’s important that you take your child in for a medical evaluation as there could be other underlying factors that could be contributing to the condition – and this is where functional medicine can play an important role.

Type-1 Diabetes

Type-1 Diabetes is also sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes and typically manifests during adolescence. However, this condition can also be found in younger children, and it can also affect young adults.

Type-1 diabetes occurs when your child’s pancreas makes little or no insulin, which assists blood sugar upon entering cells for energy conversion. 

It’s also important to note that unfortunately there is no known cure or prevention for type-1 diabetes.

Symptoms of type-1 diabetes in children may include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Stomach pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety

Though a cure is not currently available for type-1 diabetes, if you can handle your child’s diabetes care on a daily basis, your child may still be able to stay relatively healthy. This includes ensuring that they’re eating healthy foods and receiving proper nutrition, keeping up with insulin regimens, and keeping in touch with their healthcare provider frequently.

Juvenile Arthritis

For many years, parents commonly believed that children would eventually outgrow juvenile arthritis. However, this is a myth. Though some cases of remission are evident and have been documented, cases of this autoimmune disorder are typically long-lasting and may require treatment throughout life.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis often causes frequent joint pain, swelling, inflammation, and stiffness. 

Additional symptoms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis often include:

  • Fatigue
  • Warmth or redness near joints
  • Eye inflammation
  • Swollen joints
  • Stiffness

It’s important to know that your child’s symptoms may be the most severe after waking up in the morning, or sometimes after your child has taken a nap. 

Autoimmune thyroiditis

Autoimmune thyroiditis usually occurs in adolescents, but can present even in younger children. This is a common acquired cause of thyroid disease in children. 

AT can be either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Genes and environmental factors cause this disease in children.

Additional symptoms often include:

  • constipation
  • depression
  • enlarged thyroid
  • fatigue 
  • joint stiffness
  • muscle weakness
  • puffy eyes
  • sensitivity to cold
  • slow heart rate
  • swelling in extremities
  • or weight gain


Pediatric lupus is most commonly detected in children just as they begin to enter adolescence – typically around 12 years of age. However, cases of lupus in younger children have also been documented, though this is extremely rare – especially in children under 5 years of age.

When a child has lupus, this can cause severe joint pain, fever, rashes, and organ damage. Though much more severe in children, lupus affects children in many of the same ways that it affects adults. As such, lupus in children can involve multiple organs in more severe cases.

Children with Lupus may experience the following symptoms:

  • Red rash on the cheeks and/or nose
  • Disc-shaped rash with areas that appear raised
  • Skin rash after exposure to the sun
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Joint pain

In more severe cases, fluid buildup around the heart or lungs as well as kidney failure can manifest in children. And if your child is showing any symptoms, getting a professional diagnosis and treatment plan implemented early is going to be key to treating pediatric lupus as your child ages.

Multiple autoimmune syndrome 

MAS is the combination of three or more autoimmune diseases in a person. One of the disorders pertains to skin – either scleroderma or psoriasis

Around 50% of the people suffering from an autoimmune disease are likely to get more autoimmune disorders, especially the longer the disease exists.

Treating Autoimmune Disorders in Children

No parent wants to watch their child suffer from any illness. And with regular treatment, your child may have the chance at living a normal and full life despite his or her condition. But with autoimmune disorders in children, you have to be prepared to care for your child and keep up with any treatment plan that your provider recommends – and prepare to go the distance.

Functional medical practitioners like Dr. Autoimmune focuses on the root cause of a disease. We understand that there may be several underlying factors that contribute to your child’s illness.  

Functional medicine excels at this aspect of determining the root cause and how to rehab the immune system. If you suspect that your child may have an autoimmune disorder, or if they’ve exhibited any persistent symptoms consistent with an autoimmune disease, schedule a consultation with Dr. Autoimmune today! 

Call us today at 303-882-8447 or click here to get your child started on the journey back to optimal health. We are 100% remote so your child can heal from anywhere!

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Could Your Dry Skin Be a Sign of Autoimmune Disease?

Have you got dry skin that seems to need a ton of moisturizer to stop it from cracking and flaking? There can be a few factors involved in causing dry skin but sometimes, it can be linked to autoimmune disease

In this article we go over how to know if your skin could be one of the signs of an autoimmune condition and what to do about it.


Psoriasis is one example of an autoimmune condition that mostly affects the skin (although it can sometimes affect the joints too). Dry skin can also be a symptom of other autoimmune conditions. 

Psoriasis is caused by an overproduction of skin cells, which turn over a lot faster than they normally would. These new skin cells build up more quickly than your body can shed them and that results in raised areas of dry, red and itchy skin. This can happen anywhere on the body. Some people with psoriasis will go on to develop a type of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis.

Other symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • Dry skin that is prone to cracking and bleeding
  • Itching and burning feelings on affected areas
  • Thick, pitted nails


There has been some debate as to whether eczema is an autoimmune condition but research has started to suggest that it is. Like psoriasis, it’s an exaggerated inflammatory response that triggers symptoms. This inflammation results in red, dry, itchy and scaly skin. 

Eczema symptoms can be reduced a lot through medications that target the immune proteins that target healthy tissues and set the scene for the autoimmune reaction. Eczema can occur anywhere on your body but it’s common for it to affect the elbows, backs of the knees and hands.

Symptoms of eczema include:

  • Skin that is dry, red, itchy, sore and prone to cracking
  • Very itchy skin that may also burn
  • Oozing and crustiness that can often occur if you scratch affected areas


Patches of thick, hard and dry skin can be a symptom of scleroderma, which develops due to hardening of the body’s connective tissues. An autoimmune response means that collagen is produced to the same extent that it would if there was an injury to the skin.

Depending on how severe the condition is, it can potentially be pretty serious and sometimes even life threatening. This is because it can go far deeper than just the localized type that affects the skin. The systemic sclerosis type of scleroderma can also affect the blood vessels, muscles and vital organs.

Other Autoimmune Conditions That Can Affect the Skin

Some other autoimmune conditions can cause dry skin, although this is rarely their only symptom. Some of these include:

Thyroid problems can cause dry skin, especially hypothyroidism. 90% of hypothyroidism is actually due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition.

Type 1 diabetes is another autoimmune condition that can affect the skin. It can cause dry and itchy skin that is also prone to infections, especially on your feet. Other symptoms include being thirsty a lot, needing to go to the bathroom frequently and feeling tired.

Sjogren’s syndrome can cause dry skin. It also tends to make your eyes and mouth dry and affects the joints, muscles and salivary glands. You can be more likely to develop Sjogren’s syndrome if you already have an autoimmune condition such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Natural Relief for Dry Skin

If autoimmune conditions such as psoriasis or eczema are the reason for your dry skin, you’ll often be given medications and topical creams to tackle the inflammation and make symptoms less severe. These can have side effects and you may wonder if you can get some natural relief for symptoms instead. The answer is definitely “yes!” and here are a few options that you can try out:

  • Olive oil can be used as a natural facial cleanser and also helps to nourish dry skin.
  • Sunflower seed oil (organic) has also been tested in studies and was shown to be a great option for moisturizing dry skin on the body.
  • If you want to get the effects of using petroleum jelly in a more natural form, studies say that coconut oil works in much the same way. This is because the fatty acids give it emollient properties.
  • An avocado face mask can soothe dry skin on your face. It’s simple to whip up too. Just mash up half an avocado and mix with a teaspoon of olive oil. 
  • For dry skin that affects the rest of your body, try adding oatmeal to a warm (but not hot!) bath. It can help to soothe the discomfort of dry skin and is also moisturizing. Oatmeal can also be used as a face mask too. To use it in your bath, whizz up some oatmeal in a blender or food processor and mix it into warm water.
  • Applying honey to your skin helps to soothe and hydrate it. Adding a teaspoon of honey can also work for very dry skin. Leave it on your skin for up to 20 minutes and wash off with warm water. Don’t use very hot water to wash it off as this can dry the skin out even more. It’s also anti-inflammatory, which can be great for autoimmune skin conditions such as psoriasis. 

How Can Dr. Autoimmune Help?

It can be frustrating trying to find help with chronic and complex conditions, which is why we have chosen to dedicate our practice to exactly that. Instead of treating the symptoms, our functional medicine approach focuses on finding the causes.

Discovering the root cause of any skin condition is the only way to truly recover. And the best place to start is with a functional medicine practitioner like Dr. Autoimmune.

Our specialty is autoimmunity and our clinic is 100% remote! So whether you know or suspect that you have an autoimmune condition, we can help you achieve your wellness goals from anywhere in the world.

Start your journey with us and request your patient exam by clicking here

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