How to treat child skin problems

From dry skin to cradle cap, we take a look at the most common skin conditions in babies and children – and look at the ways we can treat them at home


What is it?
Eczema is a red, itchy, irritated and rough rash, sometimes with small, fluid-filled bumps that ooze. The skin condition almost always appears by the age of five, but it’s usually much earlier. Typical areas affected during flare-ups include the forehead, cheeks, arms, and legs, and inside creases of elbows, knees, and ankles. It can be itchy, painful,
and sensitive.
Treatment? There is no cure for eczema, but correct treatment can bring the condition under control and minimise flare-ups. There are certain medications you can buy in the pharmacist, whilst your doctor can prescribe topical steroids. Antihistamines can also help with the itching.

What is it?
Ringworm is a mild fungal infection of the skin, which can appear on the child’s body, scalp, feet or groin. It looks like a red circular lesion with a scaly border, which may be itchy. It is quite a common skin condition and is only mildly contagious.
Treatment? Adults and children are treated in the same way – and the best course of action is an anti-fungal cream, which can be purchased at any pharmisist, If the ringworm is on the scalp, it can be harder to treat so you will need to go and see your doctor.

Dry Skin
What is it?
Babies and children are more prone to dry skin than adults, as their skin is more delicate. Constant air conditioning, dips in chlorinated pools and salty seawater, plus the constant desert sun can also contribute. If it gets too dry, you may notice the skin is flaky and the child finds it itchy – but make sure that you are not confusing the symptoms with eczema.
Treatment? Firstly, cut back on bath time as it strips the natural oil in a child’s skin along with the dirt. Limit it to 10 minutes and make sure the water is tepid, rather than hot. It’s also best to avoid soap and use a fragrance-free cleanser. Once they are out of the bath, slather them in a thick moisturiser – the thicker, the better! You can also consider using a humidifier in your child’s room – and make sure they are getting enough water as dehydration is a prime cause of dry skin.

What is it?
Impetigo is a common, but highly contagious skin condition that results in blisters or sores on the face, neck, hands and diaper area. The sores burst and develop crusts, which can be painful. Impetigo is caused by two different types of bacteria (one that is also responsible for strep throat) and can affect both adults and children.
Treatment? Your child will need antibiotics to clear impetigo. The sores remain contagious until 24 to 48 hours after they start taking the antibiotics, so make sure they stay home from nursery or school.

Heat Rash
What is it?
Sometimes known as ‘heat rash’ or ‘prickly heat’, children of all ages can get heat rash, but it’s most common in babies. Caused when your child sweats to cool down but the pores become clogged, it is not serious but is a sign that your child is too hot and shouldn’t be ignored. The rash appears as an eruption of little bumps on the skin (and sometimes tiny blisters), which will appear red if your child has light skin. It can be very itchy.
Treatment? Creams and ointments won’t work, as they will trap the heat. Instead, you need to cool your baby down. Remove clothing, switch on a fan, or give them a lukewarm bath (add a little baking soda to help soothe the skin).
It’s also worth using scratch mitts on babies and ensuring that fingernails are cut short on older children to make sure they aren’t scratching.

Cradle Cap
What is it?
Officially known as ‘infantile seborrheic dermatitis’, Cradle Cap is when your baby has flaky, dry skin on their scalp that looks like dandruff or has a thick, oily, yellowish or brown scaly appearance. It usually occurs in the first few months after birth and clears up after six to 12 months. The good news is that it is very common and completely harmless. Experts don’t really know what causes it, but one theory is that hormones at the end of pregnancy over-stimulate the baby’s oil-producing glands, which results in the condition.
Treatment? There’s no need to do anything, as it should eventually clear up on its own. If it bothers you, however, you can try rubbing a small amount of a pure, natural oil (such as almond or olive oil) into your baby’s scalp and leaving it for 15 minutes. Gently comb out the flakes with a soft brush or fine-tooth comb and then wash with a gentle baby shampoo. You don’t want to leave any oil on the scalp, which could clog the pores and cause the flakes to stick.

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