Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dealing with Common Skin Disorders in Children

Unfortunately for parents, kids don't come with care manuals, and it's difficult to know when something that crops up is a minor affliction or potentially life threatening. This is particularly true with skin disorders. Although we know that most of them - like warts and acne - aren't actually dangerous, we don't really know how to deal with them. Following are some common skin disorders found in children and how best to treat them.

Diaper Rash

Most likely, the first skin problem your child will develop is a simple form of contact dermatitis called diaper rash. Caused by prolonged contact with irritants such as urine ammonia and feces, frequent diaper changes and careful cleaning are the best prevention. Although diaper rash occurs equally among cloth and disposable diaper wearers, harsh detergents used in laundering cloth diapers can exacerbate the condition. The rash starts out as red, inflamed skin, which if left untreated can turn into open sores and pustules. The cure is keeping baby's bum clean and applying an over-the-counter antifungal cream whenever rash occurs. If the rash gets worse or does not respond to treatment, consult a physician!

Acne

Acne in infants usually occurs around two to three weeks of age in about 40% of babies. It's caused by mom's hormones, which are still in baby's bloodstream and stimulating baby's sweat glands. Since infant pores are not fully developed and tend to clog easily, this can lead to acne. Not to worry, however; it doesn't bother baby in the least and usually disappears before six months of age.

Teenage acne is another matter. Drastic hormonal changes brought on by puberty trigger oil production which, combined with a teenage diet of refined sugars or carbs (i.e. bread, chips and candy), clogs pores and causes pimples. The only defense is plenty of cleansing and over-the-counter treatments such as benzoyl peroxide to dry up oily skin and pimples. In rare cases, acne may be severe enough to warrant a trip to the doctor in order to avoid permanent scarring. Your doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics to kill the acne-causing bacteria and prescription-strength topical creams.

Warts

Warts are ugly little bumps on your skin caused by one of 100 different strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Although they are relatively harmless - except for the genital kind that can cause cervical cancer - they are ugly and contagious and should be treated to prevent spreading. There are a number of over-the-counter remedies available at the drug store including freezing treatments and salicylic acid liquids and patches to kill warts. A popular home remedy involves covering the wart for several days with a small piece of duct tape. The duct tape cuts off the wart's supply of oxygen, thus "suffocating it" and causing it to die and be sloughed off.

Cold Sores

Cold sores are red blisters that crop up near the mouth or on other areas of the face, and are painful, unpleasant and extremely contagious. Cold sores are a manifestation of the herpes simplex 1 virus, and once someone acquires the virus, there is no known cure. Cold sores may crop up repeatedly and last for weeks, or the virus may appear to go into remission for years. Cold sores are more likely to appear when the immune system is weakened, such as during illness including the common cold.

Hemangioma of the Skin

A rather unattractive skin anomaly sometimes seen in infants is a skin hemangioma, an abnormal collection of blood cells that may appear as a small scratch or red birthmark at first and then grow larger and start to protrude as the child ages. Hemangiomas are usually small, but in some cases they may grow large enough to require removal. Most will disappear naturally by the time the child is 10 years of age.

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.


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