3 Common Childhood Skin Conditions No One Talks About

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University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children'sExperts in Children's Health
childhood skin problems

Oozing sores, speckled bumps, and itchy groins might not come up in conversation with other parents. But annoying and embarrassing skin conditions affect many children. It’s time to break the silence about three icky problems and how to solve them.

According to Sonal Shah, MD, a pediatric dermatologist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, parents should keep an eye out for these three common skin conditions.

Cold Sores

What it is: A type of herpes virus that causes small, clustered, fluid-filled blisters often noted around the lips and mouth. The blister fluid is contagious, and the virus spreads easily through skin-to-skin contact and even by sharing utensils or towels. They often appear by age 5.

Home remedies: When they appear, try prevent scratching and picking. Ease pain and itching with ice or chilled treats. Wash hands, and clean toys, regularly.  Avoid sharing utensils and towels.

See a pediatrician the first time cold sores develop. Also call if they don’t heal after about a week; approach the eyes; are wide spread or if they involve an area of eczema; or have red, swollen, or hot skin around them.

Warts

What it is: Caused by human papilloma viruses, about one in 10 kids will grow these small, raised bumps – commonly found on the hands and feet. They’re often skin-colored, sometimes with black spots that look like seeds.

Home remedies: Over-the-counter medicine with 17- 40 percent salicylic acid applied daily to the wart can help to resolve them over time.  To speed the process, cover with duct tape.

Seek treatment if they are multiple warts, or if they are located on the face, genitals or if any are painful. 

Ringworm

What it is: Ringworm comes from fungus, not a parasite. But the name rings true in a different way: the itchy, red circles it causes. Ringworm can appear almost anywhere on the body, including the face and groin. Fungus can also appear on the hands and feet where it tends to look more red and scaly and often does not have a ring-like appearance. It spreads through contact with people or animals, or in places like locker rooms and shared showers.

Home remedies: Most cases resolve with over-the-counter anti-fungal creams, lotions, and powders. Avoid sharing personal care items such as towels and hair brushes as this can spread the fungus.

See a pediatrician if your child has ringworm on the scalp. This location usually requires a prescription.

Helping Kids Cope

“It’s normal for children to feel self-conscious about skin conditions,” Dr. Shah says. “It is important to validate their concerns as a parent or a medical provider, but also to provide children with tools that they can use to cope with these feelings.”  

Dr. Shah advises involving kids in treatment and teaching them simple ways to answer others’ questions.

“They might educate their friends and explain, ‘This is a wart; it’s a skin condition that many people also have.’” Dr. Shah says. “Many times when children ask questions about visible skin conditions they do not have ill intent, they are just genuinely curious.

Preparing your children to answer questions in an age-appropriate manner can help ease any anxiety about the topic coming up in conversation.

"Above all, remind children that beauty and confidence come from inside," Dr. Shah says, "regardless of what their skin looks like and that each person is different and special in their own way.”

Related Links

UH Cleveland Medical Center's Department of Dermatology is recognized as a global center of excellence in all issues related to the skin. The Pediatric Dermatology team applies the department’s expertise and research in clinical care from basic science of the skin to clinical trials of the most advanced medications and therapies. Learn more about pediatric dermatology services at UH Rainbow.

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