Parents with young children tend to have a constant worry in the backs of their minds about their children’s health. How do you know when to actually be concerned? Skin irritation is fairly common in children, but as a parent, you want to know when your child is simply having some temporary irritation that will clear up on its own, and when it’s a potentially more serious problem. And while a pediatrician office can be a great place to start, dermatologists are highly specialized and can offer the most comprehensive and cutting-edge care for skin issues. From our board-certified dermatologists and physician assistants at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta (DAA), below are some of the most common skin conditions in kids so you’ll know what to look for and what steps you should take.
As an incredibly common skin condition, particularly for children, eczema causes inflamed, itchy patches of skin. There are multiple types of eczema, including contact dermatitis (irritation triggered by contact with a particular substance or chemical) and atopic eczema (irritation caused by other factors, not related to chemicals the skin contacts). If this is a continuing problem then your child should be evaluated. Rarely, this is still significant in adulthood, but new medicines are now available.
This skin infection is caused by a virus that can spread from person to person, and it is particularly common in children between ages 2 and 5. It produces dome-shaped, flesh-colored bumps with an indent in the middle. These are relatively easily treated and because of the contagious nature, we tend to opt for treatment.
Warts are caused by certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), and they are typically flesh-colored bumps with a rough surface. While genital warts are a sexually transmitted condition, warts that appear elsewhere on the body (such as the feet and hands) are typically caused when HPV enters a cut or injury. Because children tend to roughhouse and get frequent cuts and scrapes, they are particularly susceptible. While warts are generally harmless, they can spread and can sometimes be uncomfortable, so there are several different treatment options available, like topical medication and cryotherapy.
Impetigo is a skin infection that appears as several lesions with a golden crust. In some cases, it actually begins when another condition like dermatitis weakens the skin’s barrier, allowing the bacteria in. Impetigo is typically treated with topical and/or oral antibiotics, and topical antiseptics can sometimes accelerate healing as well.
This very common condition is caused by a virus called herpes zoster. It appears as a series of itchy, red spots throughout the body, and it is highly contagious. Fortunately, the development of a chickenpox vaccine has significantly reduced this infection.
Tinea Capitis (Ringworm on the Scalp)
Despite its name, ringworm actually has nothing to do with worms—it’s a fungal infection. It can spread rather easily, and while ringworm on the scalp can appear in people of all ages, it is particularly prevalent among children. Ringworm creates round patches of inflamed skin, with a darker red ring around the edge. If your dermatologist suspects ringworm, a test will be performed to confirm it, and if the diagnosis is confirmed, it may be treated with oral and sometimes topical antifungal medication.
This condition gets its name because, after starting with a fever, it causes a child to develop sores on the mouth and a rash that is typically on the hands and feet. Fortunately, this illness typically goes away on its own within a week, so until that time, parents should take steps to limit the spread of it by washing their hands often and preventing the child from coughing and sneezing on others.
As a parent, you always have your child’s best interest at heart, and one of the best ways to protect your child’s health (and your own health, for that matter) is to improve your knowledge. Keep in mind, however, that any time your child has unusual symptoms, it’s best to schedule an appointment at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta in order to get a proper exam, rather than trying to self-diagnose. For more skin health tips, be sure to follow DAA on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.