Common dermatological conditions in kids and teens
As a parent, you are probably used to finding an irritation, cut, or bump on your child's skin, but some may be more worrisome than others. Therefore, we put together a basic list of common dermatologic conditions children and teens experience to help you determine the best course of action. As always, if there is any concern, you should consult with a board-certified dermatologist.
By mid-teens, more than 40% of kids have acne or scars from acne that need to be treated by a dermatologist according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Many teens and their parents brace themselves for this common skin condition, but a growing number of pre-adolescents are also experiencing acne. Dermatologists believe an earlier onset of puberty may be to blame, causing hormones to trigger the start of acne sooner. But as many of us know all too well, acne can continue to affect people into their 20s and beyond.
In addition to causing scars, acne can also cause poor self-image, depression, and anxiety. Studies have also reported teens being bullied because of their acne. Board-certified dermatologists can prescribe medications and products to help treat and prevent acne; however, it may take up to 4-8 weeks for these to take effect.
According to the National Eczema Association, as many as 10% of all infants have some form of eczema. There are a few different types of eczema, so it can look different on different children. A child could have red bumps that are scaly and feel rough/dry, oozing skin, or itchy skin with no visible signs.
Unfortunately, eczema is a chronic condition and currently there is no cure, but about half of children with eczema will outgrow it by the time they become an adult. A board-certified dermatologist can prescribe corticosteroids (and other treatment options for more severe cases) to treat the condition. The doctor can also provide tips for relief during flare-ups and other methods to best help your child.
Most people are familiar with these pesky little critters – in fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, 6 to 12 million children between 3 and 12 years of age get head lice each year. Lice spread from head-to-head contact with someone who has lice. Commonly, lice are spread through schools and sports teams (be sure to regularly disinfect those little league helmets).
Lice need blood to survive, so while they are not known to spread disease, they do make your scalp extremely itchy. Over-the-counter medications can be used at home to treat lice, but if a child scratches a lot, it can cause sores that can lead to infection. If a child develops sores or an infection, they should immediately seek care from a board-certified dermatologist.
Warts are benign (non-cancerous) skin growths that appear when a virus infects the top layer of the skin. Children and teens are more prone to getting a wart virus because it is quite easy to catch a virus when you have a cut or scrape on your skin.
Warts can spread from person-to-person or from touching something that another person's wart touched (like a towel). A person with warts can also spread them from one place on the body to another. In many cases, warts take a few months to grow large enough to see. In children, warts often go away without treatment; however, a board-certified dermatologist should treat warts that hurt, bother the child, or quickly multiply.
Although it may seem like a temporary condition, sunburn – the result of the skin receiving too much exposure from ultraviolet rays – can cause long-lasting damage to the skin. This damage increases a person's risk of getting skin cancer. In fact, sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) risk by 80%, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
If your child gets a sunburn, the most important step is to go indoors immediately. Dermatologists recommend taking frequent, cool baths or showers to help relieve pain from sunburn. In addition, your child should pat dry, but leave a little water on the skin. Immediately applying moisturizer will help trap the water in the skin. Blisters mean second-degree sunburn. You should not pop blisters, as blisters form to help skin heal and protect from infection.
If you are concerned about your child's skin, hair, or nails, the DermatologistOnCall network of board-certified dermatologists is always available for an online review*. You can simply create an account for your child, upload photos of the condition, and a doctor will respond (typically within 24 hours) with a diagnosis and treatment plan. If any prescriptions are necessary, they automatically will be sent to your preferred pharmacy.
*DermatologistOnCall offers care for non-emergent conditions. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.