Your guide to common childhood skin ailments
Skin diseases in childhood are a common occurrence. Many skin ailments can be easily treated by a topical or oral prescription from a physician. However, skin conditions that are foreign to you may leave you feeling nervous or confused. Here's an overview of how to identify the more common childhood skin rashes and how to go about receiving treatment. Always be sure to consult with a physician for further information.
Eczema is a common skin condition that causes the skin to become red, itchy and irritated and sometimes results in small, fluid-filled bumps. Scientists believe that eczema may be inherited and is also related to certain allergies.
Eczema is commonly found on the elbows, ankles, wrists, face, neck, chest and backs of knees. If you think your child has eczema, the best thing to do is visit your doctor. Eczema treatment includes medication (either corticosteroid ointment or antihistamine pills) that will control the flare-ups.
There is no cure for eczema, but flare-ups can be prevented or reduced by:
- Wearing non-irritating fabrics, such as cotton
- Keeping the skin dry and clean
- Not scratching
- Keeping cool
- Reducing stress
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition. There are five different types of psoriasis, but plaque psoriasis is the most common. Symptoms include raised patches of itchy, red skin with the appearance of white-silvery scales. The condition frequently occurs on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back.
Psoriasis is a lifelong condition because, currently, there is no cure. The cause is still unknown, although some scientists believe it may be an inherited disease. Psoriasis treatment usually involves topical ointments or oral medication that works to control the itch and reduce flare-ups.
Skin cancer is probably the scariest of all skin disease, and it's also the most serious. Skin cancer is characterized as the uncontrolled growth of skin cells. When left unchecked by a physician, it can spread from the skin to other organs of the body.
Basal cell carcinoma is a common type of skin cancer. It develops in the lowest layer of the epidermis. Melanoma is less common but more dangerous. It develops in the melanocytes (cells that produce pigment) and is the leading cause of death from skin disease.
Skin cancer can have different appearances depending on the individual. Here are some common features to check for:
- Asymmetry – Cancerous moles or blemishes usually have an asymmetrical shape.
- Borders – Irregular borders around skin bumps may be a sign that they're malignant.
- Color – Skin cancer is typically a shade of brown, tan or black.
- Diameter – A cancerous blemish is usually larger than 6mm in size.
With melanoma, the cancerous skin cells have to be surgically removed. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are also usually required in order to fully get rid of the cancer.
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun. Always wear sunscreen when outdoors, and consider sun-protection swimwear in addition to hats and sunglasses.