Like adults, kids can be affected by many different skin conditions. Often appearing as an unusual rash or growth on the skin, these conditions are rarely serious and actually very common during childhood as kids are constantly exposed to a variety of illnesses.
By learning how to recognize common skin conditions, parents can help identify the cause of their child’s skin irritation and then determine the best course of action. This may include a visit to the child’s pediatrician or dermatologist, who can then prescribe the appropriate treatments.
Common childhood rashes include:
Ringworm is a skin infection that appears as a ring-shaped lesion. The fungus that causes ringworm is highly contagious and is commonly passed by direct contact. Household pets can also carry the fungus and pass it to the child. Ringworm is very preventable and in the majority of cases very easy to treat.
Chicken pox appears as a red, itchy, blister-like rash that can affect all areas of the body. The highly contagious illness is very common in kids—especially those under the age of 12—and is often accompanied by flu-like symptoms and a fever. In many cases the rash goes away without treatment. Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). The AAP recommends a first dose of the chickenpox vaccine at 12 to 15 months of age for all healthy young children who have never had the disease. A second dose is recommended at 4-6 years of age.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, refers to a number of different skin conditions in which the skin is red and irritated. Eczema can either be a short-lived temporary reaction to something in the child's environment, or it can be a chronic condition lasting for years. Most children diagnosed with eczema have a family history of the condition or other allergies. The majority of babies who have it will outgrow it. While there are many treatments available for managing eczema, there currently is not a cure.
Roseola is one of the most common causes of rash and fever in infants and young children. The viral illness begins with a sudden, high fever that lasts for several days with no other symptoms. Once the fever breaks—usually abruptly—the infant develops a distinctive rash, which often appears and spreads as red spots and bumps. In most cases roseola does not require professional treatment, but high fevers should always be monitored closely.
When to Visit Your Dermatologist
Whenever your child’s rash lasts for several weeks, becomes worse or does not respond to home treatment, contact your pediatrician or a trained dermatologist. Dermatologists are experts in treating all childhood skin conditions from infancy through the adolescent years. After evaluating a child's skin and determining the cause, your dermatologist will provide both education and an appropriate treatment plan for your child's skin condition.