As a kid, it seemed like my siblings and I were always coming down with some sort of rash. Granted, we were allergic to basically everything, so many of those rashes could be chalked up to allergic reactions. But it’s also true that children develop skin conditions more often than adults. This is because their still-developing immune systems and more sensitive skin make them more susceptible to skin infections and irritants.
Nevertheless, seeing your child break out in a rash of unknown origin can be a scary experience for a parent. So, to take some of the mystery out of these typical childhood ailments and hopefully allay parents’ fears, here is a rundown of common skin conditions in kids:
Hives – Raised, red bumps that are usually itchy. Hives can be caused by exposure to an allergen, the sun, a virus, or an infection. If the area affected is large or a child’s entire body, it’s likely to be a serious allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention. Hives may be treated with an antihistamine or a steroid for more serious cases.
Dermatitis – Red, itchy, dry patches of skin that may ooze when scratched. Dermatitis, or eczema, is caused by exposure to an irritant of some kind. It could be anything from poison ivy and poison sumac to certain types of materials, soaps, creams, or detergents. In mild cases, the doctor may prescribe a medicated cream. For more serious cases, an oral medicine may be prescribed.
Ringworm – A red ring on the skin that may be itchy. Ringworm is caused by a fungal infection and is spread by contact with other infected people or animals. It usually clears up quickly with a few weeks treatment with anti-fungal cream.
Heat rash – Small, red bumps, usually found on the neck, armpits, under the breasts, or the groin. Heat rash is caused by sweat being trapped under the skin and blocking the sweat glands. Heat rash will clear up on its own over time and can be prevented by not overdressing your child.
Warts – Small, raised bumps. Warts are caused by either the human papilloma virus (HPV) or the pox virus. They can spread through direct contact or exposure in moist environments like showers, pools, and locker rooms. They are treated by over-the-counter wart removal products that use salicylic acid to soften and dissolve the abnormal skin cells. Or, a dermatologist may freeze the wart off with liquid nitrogen, destroy it with chemicals, burn it off with a laser, scrape it off, or prescribe a cream or oral medication.
Chicken pox – Blister-like, itchy, red bumps, typically all over the body and accompanied by fever, headache, sore throat, or stomachache. Chicken pox are caused by a virus, though it’s less common now that a vaccination has been developed. However, even vaccinated children may still develop chicken pox, though it’s usually a milder case. The doctor may prescribe an anti-viral medication if your child is at risk for complications, or an anti-biotic if the bumps become infected due to excessive scratching. Other than that, treatment usually consists of reducing the itch with calamine lotion, cool, wet compresses, oatmeal baths, and over-the-counter itch treatments. As the chicken pox are highly contagious, it’s important to keep your child home from school and away from others who haven’t had the virus until the blisters have dried and started to crust over.
Does your child come down with one or more of these conditions often? Tell us about it below.
Sources: clevelandclinic.org, livestrong.com, and kidshealth.org