Like adults, children also suffer from skin issues, many of which are unique to the stages of infancy, childhood and early adulthood. Pediatric skin conditions can range from common problems such as acne, eczema and diaper rash to more rare conditions such as genetic skin disorders to vascular and pigmented birthmarks.
There are a variety of skin issues that children and teenagers can experience as they grow, including:
Over 85% of teenagers experience acne, some more severe than others. Acne can range from clogged pores to larger painful pimples and cysts that can leave permanent scarring. There are many factors that contribute to acne, one of which is hormonal changes that occur during puberty. Increased hormones, known as androgens, can cause oil glands to enlarge and become overactive, ultimately leading to the blockage of pores and overgrowth of bacteria, resulting in acne.
Birthmarks are any type of lesion or growth present since birth or within the first year of life. These include congenital nevi, which are birthmarks made up of pigment-producing cells, or melanocytes, as well as vascular lesions including hemangiomas and vascular malformations such as a port-wine-stain. Birthmarks come in many shapes and colors. Birthmarks are typically harmless, but it’s still wise to have a dermatologist examine them, to verify the birthmark isn’t the first sign of another skin issue.
Hemangiomas are collections of blood vessels in the skin that are most often present within the first week or two after birth. They can look different depending on where they are in the skin, but most often present as a bright red growth. These lesions follow a natural time course where they rapidly enlarge over the first 2 to 6 months of life before they stabilize in size, and ultimately self-resolve. Depending on the location of the hemangioma, these growths may need to be treated with a medication called a beta blocker, which can help slow and prevent further enlargement before they ultimately start to go away on their own.
Molluscum is small skin-colored to pink bumps on the skin caused by a virus. Occasionally molluscum can become inflamed, presenting as red angry bumps that can resemble pimples; this often signals the body’s immune system to recognize the virus and “clear” the bumps. While molluscum will eventually resolve on its own, there are several ways that we can treat these lesions, but this often requires multiple sessions.
Warts are growths on the skin caused by a virus in the HPV family. The majority of warts on the skin are typically caused by harmless strains of the virus. Many warts go away without treatment, but it may take months or years. Warts can be treated with over-the-counter medications, but we also have a variety of in-office procedures and prescription treatments to treat your child’s warts.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition that causes dry, scaly patches of skin that are often red, inflamed and very itchy. While eczema commonly affects infants (less than 1 year of age) and children, it can present at any age. Eczema is the result of genetic changes that affect the skin’s barrier properties in combination with environmental irritation. When this skin barrier is compromised or “broken down,” it makes it easier for the skin to become more easily irritated, which often can trigger the immune system to be over-reactive in the skin. This ultimately presents as the characteristic red, itchy and scaly plaques of eczema.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition marked by pink to red plaques on the skin covered by thick white scales. Psoriasis can present at any age, with a third of patients developing the rash before age 20. Psoriasis is triggered by certain arms of the immune system being overactive in the skin, resulting in the abnormally fast growth of skin cells that result in the characteristic thick scaly plaques of skin.
Alopecia areata is a condition marked by round patches of hair loss. This is an autoimmune process where the immune system, which normally fights off “foreign invaders” such as infection, instead fights our own cells, in this case, the hair follicle.
Children can develop skin a variety of skin infections. These include bacterial skin infections like impetigo and cellulitis, fungal skin infections like ringworm and diaper rash, and viral skin infections such as molluscum contagiosum and herpes. Certain skin conditions such as eczema can make children more prone to infections.
Other Common Conditions We Treat
Many different types of rashes can affect your child, including diaper rash, cradle cap (seborrheic dermatitis), contact dermatitis and many others.