As any parent knows, children present their own set of problems. This holds true in dermatology, too.
There are skin diseases and reactions that occur differently in children than adults. And treatment must necessarily be different, too, even if only because the toddlers are terrified, the little ones can’t stop moving, and so many teenagers don’t seem to take the recommended protocols seriously enough to help with their own cure!
Often, the varied ages and diseases means that there aren’t any significantly sized studies to describe a sure-fire medication for the next child that comes in our door. So, in every dermatologist’s office, a whole range of experience must be brought to bear to apply to treating a child.
Common pediatric skin problems include:
Acne, which affects 85-90% of the teenage population. It is often the cause of embarrassment and low self-esteem. Severe cases are not uncommon, and, untreated, can lead to acne scarring. There are many ways to treat acne, depending on the severity of the case and the individual’s circumstances. It is usually best to try the mildest appropriate treatment first and move to stronger progressively if the acne doesn’t clear. For more on acne, click here.
Eczema can be chronic and can be present since infancy. It can last well into adulthood.
Allergic skin rashes can develop at any time in one’s life but may present when someone is young.
Psoriasis may be lifelong and present when the child is young. Roughly ⅓ of people develop psoriasis before the age of 20.
Infections come in many different types:
Impetigo is a common bacterial infection that is caused by streptococci or staphylococci or both. The disease is more common in infants and children and usually involves exposed body surfaces.
Warts which are caused by the human papilloma virus and can occur on the face, hands, feet, and elsewhere and may require treatment.
Fungal infections can occur anywhere, but are more common on the scalp, hands, feet, and nails. For example, high school wrestlers are at increased risk of several types of infections conveyed by contacting other wrestlers directly or via contact with the wrestling mat. Wrestlers are all too aware of this.
Molluscum Contagiosum is an infection caused by the poxvirus and is commonly seen in school-aged children.
Varicella (chickenpox) is common and scarlet fever (streptococcal infection) can still be seen in the younger population.
Genodermatoses are genetically related skin diseases. They are usually diagnosed when the patient is young, often while an infant or toddler.
Benign (noncancerous) growths may develop in the pediatric population, some can even form at birth. Below is a photo of a child’s hemangioma, which would typically dissipate over several years.
Of course, this is just a sampling of what we see. We try to make each child feel special to ease any fear of a visit. Which trick works best? Whether it’s our lollipops, the M&M’s at the front counter, or the stickers for the younger ones, children feel comfortable in our office and we try to make sure they’re not afraid to return. Our books and Little Tikes corner is always used by the little ones; some stay longer “just to play”.