From birth to kindergarten, rashes are a common, if not annoying, part of raising a child. Here are five common skin conditions, symptoms to look for and how they are treated.
Ringworm – Don’t’ look for an actual worm for this infection! Ringworm is actually tinea, which is a medical name for skin infections like athlete’s foot, jock itch and ring worm. Tinea infections are caused by fungi that feed off dead tissues in a person’s body. Ringworm starts as a red, scaly bump, and soon transforms into a ring or series of rings with a raised, scaly boarder and a clear center. Ringworm is extremely contagious, and can even be contracted from animals! Ringworm is treated easily with a prescription antifungal medication in ointment or cream form, or an oral antifungal medication for ringworm of the scalp or nails.
Chickenpox – A childhood right-of-passage just a few years ago, chickenpox is less prevalent now due to childhood immunizations for the illness. It’s still very common among children under 12, especially due to the highly contagious nature of the illness. Chickenpox starts with a fever (typically 101 to 102 degrees), headache, sore throat and other flu-like symptoms that last 2 to 3 days. The next stage of the illness includes a red, itchy skin rash (the first blisters that pop up start as small, pimple-looking spots) that covers the entire body, starting on the abdomen, back or face. Chickepox spots fill with clear fluid, break, and scab over, usually within 2 to 4 days. Because it’s a virus, doctors won’t prescribe anything for it, but if scabs become infected, antibacterial medicine may be required. Chickenpox treatment focuses on alleviating the symptoms with calamine lotion, oatmeal baths, and Tylenol for pain and fever.
Heat rash – Many parents mistake almost any rash that children get when it’s outside for heat rash, but heat rash is actually a very specific type of rash that’s common in children, especially babies and young infants. Also known as prickly heat, this type of heat rash occurs when the sweat duct becomes red and inflamed, creating a prickly stinging sensation and itching in the child. A heat rash goes away in a few days without medical intervention, and treatment includes giving the child a cold compress to affected areas, adding calamine lotion and coating areas with over-the-counter medications like hydrocortisone for itching and redness.
Eczema – This common skin care issue in children actually an umbrella term for many skin conditions that result in red, irritated, itchy skin that result in fluid-filled bumps. One of these conditions (and one of the most common) is called atopic dermatitis, which means a child is overly sensitive to environmental factors (fragrances, pet dander, mold and certain foods) and this oversensitivity results in red skin. Eczema is very common, non-contagious and usually goes into remission after about age 6. Reoccurring eczema is difficult to diagnose, and allergists may be involved. Eczema is treated using over-the-counter topical ointments like hydrocortisone and occasionally oral antibiotics and antihistamines.
Hand-Foot-Mouth disease – Hand-foot-mouth disease (or HFM) comes from a virus that lives in the digestive track and can spread from person-to-person through contact with unwashed hands. Young kids under the age of 4 are most susceptible to this condition, which causes blisters in the throat, tongue, gums, cheeks as well as on the soles of a child’s feet. Flu-like symptoms, like muscle aches and fever, might also be present. The condition runs its course without treatment, but over-the-counter pain relievers, cold foods like popsicles and ice cream and some old fashioned TLC can help kids feel less uncomfortable.