Children might be free of some of the worries and burdens of adult life, but when it comes to skin, they have issues of their own! Pediatric skin is often sensitive and delicate, so we recommend treating some conditions differently than we might in adult skin.
Let’s look closer at a few common child skin problems to better understand how to identify them and how to treat them.
Atopic Dermatitis: This is a type of eczema in which there is loss of skin barrier. This can create inflammation in the skin, resulting in an itchy rash or multiple rashes. Atopic dermatitis often presents on the face or at the bend of the elbow or knee, but it can occur anywhere. Sometimes environmental allergens can play a role in flares, and this requires an allergist to help manage.
This skin condition can affect individuals at any age, but it often starts early in childhood. Kids with atopic dermatitis tend to have more sensitive skin and need to avoid products with added fragrance. Atopic dermatitis can also get worse when the skin comes into contact with irritating substances like saliva, harsh soaps, and scratchy, tight-fitting clothing. Friction can also contribute, especially when affected children start to crawl. Treatment can vary, but topical steroids are usually a first-line treatment.
Fungal Infections: Fungus lives all around us, making it fairly easy to pick up a fungal infection. The most common childhood fungal infection is ringworm, which often causes a red, circular raised lesion that itches. In infants, fungal infections can often occur in areas exposed to prolonged moisture, especially the diaper area in infants. Frequent diaper changes and cleaning can help prevent fungus and yeast infections from occurring. If you do suspect your child has a fungal infection, visit your dermatologist for a diagnosis and the best treatment.
Warts: Warts are skin growths that occur as a result of Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Although this skin condition affects children more than adults, it can develop at any age. Warts are contagious and can spread to other body parts. Treatment can vary, but your provider can discuss the best course of treatment with you and your child.
Molluscum contagiosum: This is a common viral infection caused by pox virus. Molluscum appears as pink or flesh-colored bumps and can occur on any part of the body. They are not harmful and will generally go away on their own in a couple of years, but treatment can help them go away more quickly. As the name suggests, they are contagious, so early treatment is advisable to help stop the spread.
Head Lice: Lice is a very common back-to-school problem. Despite its reputation, lice does not signal uncleanliness; anyone is susceptible to the parasite. Head lice are transmitted mainly through close head-to-head contact, but can also be transmitted by sharing personal items such as combs, brushes, towels, and hats. It is very important to treat lice as soon as you notice the infestation to limit spreading.
Impetigo: Impetigo is one of the most common skin infections in children. Impetigo, which is a bacterial infection, is contagious and can be spread to others through close contact or by sharing towels, sheets, clothing, toys, or other items. The infection is usually mild, and can occur anwhere on the body but is most common around exposed skin, especially the nose, mouth, arms and legs. Impetigo starts as a red sore, which is very itchy. A crusty yellow scab will usually form as the spot starts to heal. Scratching can spread the sores to other parts of the body.
These bacteria often enter the body when the skin has already been irritated or injured because of other skin problems such as eczema, poison ivy, insect bites, chickenpox, burns, or cuts. Children may get impetigo after they have had a cold or allergies that have made the skin under the nose raw. However, impetigo can also develop in completely healthy skin. The best course of treatment is usually antibiotics, so be sure to visit a dermatologist if you suspect impetigo.
Our providers at Northeast Dermatology can develop the right treatment plan for your child if you spot any of the above conditions. We also have an allergist on-site, so can be your one-stop shop for most childhood skin and allergy concerns. We can’t wait to see you in the office!