Many skin conditions are common in young kids. Dr. Anatoli Freiman, dermatologist and medical director at the Toronto Dermatology Centre shares his expertise on the topic in Parents Canada magazine.
“We see a lot of eczema, moles that develop, rashes and skin infections, like warts and molluscum,” says Dr. Freiman. Since it can be hard for parents to determine what, if anything, is wrong, speak to your family doctor if you have concerns. If more specialized treatment is required, you will be referred to a dermatologist. Different conditions can look very similar, so it’s important to show your family doctor early on. If things are left untreated, it can get out of hand. Here’s his primer to help you know what kinds of skin conditions to look for in your preschoolers:
Moles: “Some conditions, like skin cancer, are genetic, so take your kids to a doctor if you notice moles that are asymmetrical, have an irregular border, are discoloured, are larger than six millimetres or are changing. This is cause for concern.” A doctor will assess moles and monitor them over time.
Warts: These are common and contagious bumps that are often found on the bottom of feet or tops of hands. They can be treated with liquid nitrogen and a prescription preparation.
Eczema: This common skin condition is characterized by red and itchy rashes. Because of the itch, children may rub their head, cheeks, and other inflamed patches. In many cases, eczema disappears before age two. In the meantime, proper treatment can help. See your dermatologist for advice on avoiding irritating ingredients in creams and lotions, rough, scratchy, or tight clothing and woolens. Proper bathing and moisturizing can help. A cool mist humidifier in your child’s bedroom is also a good idea. For stubborn cases, a cream may be prescribed.
Molluscum: Molluscum are little bumps that look as though they have a whitehead in the middle. It spreads easily and it’s important to diagnose and treat this early. “When you’re covered in molluscum, it’s hard to treat,” says Dr. Freiman. Repeated treatments of cantharone or liquid nitrogen may be required.
Sunburn: To prevent your kids from developing skin cancer, sun protection is key. “Doctors recommend that kids over six months use sunscreen,” says Dr. Freiman. Make sure you’re using a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) with SPF 30+. “Be sure to look for the Canadian Dermatology Association symbol on the bottle so you know dermatologists recommend it.” He also reminds parents to have their children wear sun-protective clothing, sunglasses, and try to stay out of the sun during the peak hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.