Common Skin Problems of Children
Springtime is a time for fun and relaxation. People spend a great deal more time outdoors, which can be rough on the skin. During the warmer months children especially become more vulnerable to skin problems.
Reviewing the common skin problems of children may lessen your anxiety if rashes or growths appear on your children.
Atopic dermatitis (eczema): the childhood form of eczema may start at any age, but often has its onset between 2-10 years with the development of itchy red areas on the wrists and ankles and on the flexural surfaces of the arms and legs (elbows and knees). The skin may be thickened, shiny and oozing and is usually very dry. Treatment requires daily use of moisturizers and prescription steroid creams during breakouts. This is often a chronic problem that will continue to improve with careful treatment adjustment by parents properly instructed by their dermatologist on the safe and effective use of their medication. Medication by mouth may be needed in most severe cases.
Impetigo: Also known as Indian fire. A skin infection caused by a bacteria that begins as a tiny red bump and quickly turns into a honey-colored crusted plaque. It is most commonly found around the nose, but can occur on any area of skin that has been damaged. Impetigo is treated with antibiotics. For minor infections a topical antibiotic cream can be used, but more extensive cases will require an oral antibiotic.
Infections: rashes are commonly associated with many different types of viral infections, including roseola (causes high fever for 3-5 days and then once the fever goes away, small red bumps appear on the trunk that spread all over the body), fifth disease (causes red cheeks and then a fine lace-like red or pink rash on the arms), and chickenpox (causes small red bumps that turn into blisters that crust over).
Keratosis pilaris: causes small pinpoint size red bumps and rough and dry skin on the cheeks and the back of the upper arms and legs. It is a chronic condition that is easy to treat with properly adjusted topical lubricants, keratolytics, and steroid creams.
Molluscum contagiosum: this is a type of wart caused by a virus. The rash consists of small flesh colored, dome shaped bumps with a crater in the center. They can be grouped on any skin surface, but are usually located on the head, neck, trunk and underarms. Treatment is simple and optional. This type of wart will go away on its own over several months to years. When treatment is desired, warts can be treated with a medication applied to the wart in the doctor’s office.
Many simple treatment options are available for these skin problems. The treatment results, mainly relief of discomfort and anxiety, will lead to a happier child and a more productive school year. As an educated parent, you can play an important role in improving the health of all children.
Dr. John Jones is a board certified dermatologist and an Associate Professor of Dermatologic Surgery and Dermatology at LSU Medical Center in New Orleans.
John J. Jones, Jr. M.D.