There are many common skin disorders that require the clinical care of a physician or other healthcare professional.
Common skin conditions are grouped into the following categories:
Skin fungi live in the top layer of skin cells in moist areas of the body, such as between the toes or in the groin and diaper area. Sometimes, the normal balances that keep fungi in check are upset, resulting in an infection.
Some fungal infections cause only a small amount of irritation, while other types penetrate deeper and can cause itching, swelling, blistering, or scaling.
In some cases, fungal infections can cause reactions elsewhere on the body. A child can develop a rash on the finger or hand associated with an infection of the scalp or foot, for instance.
Different fungi, depending on their location on a child's body, cause ringworm. Ringworm is characterized by ring-shaped red, scaly patches with clear centers. The risk of contracting ringworm increases if the child:
The most common types of ringworm include the following:
Ringworm resembles many skin conditions. Always consult a physician for a diagnosis.
Ringworm is usually diagnosed based on a medical history and physical examination of the child. The lesions of ringworm are unique, and usually allow for a diagnosis simply on physical examination. The physician may also order a culture or skin scraping of the lesion to confirm the diagnosis.
Because the fungi can live indefinitely on the skin, recurrences of ringworm are likely, and treatment may need to be repeated. Specific treatment will be determined by the physician based on:
Treatment for scalp ringworm (tinea capitis) may include the following:
Tinea versicolor is a common fungal skin infection characterized by lighter or darker patches on the chest or back. This infection, which prevents the skin from tanning evenly, occurs most often in adolescence and early adulthood.
Typically the only symptom of tinea versicolor is white or light brown patches. The patches may scale slightly, but they rarely itch or hurt. Other common characteristics of the infection include:
The symptoms of tinea versicolor may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult a physician for diagnosis.
Tinea versicolor is usually diagnosed based on a medical history and physical examination of the child. The patches are unique, and usually a diagnosis can be made on physical examination. The physician may also use an ultraviolet light to see the patches more clearly or take skin scrapings of the lesions to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment usually includes the use of dandruff shampoo on the skin as prescribed by the physician. The shampoo is left on the skin overnight and washed off in the morning, and may be required for several nights.
Tinea versicolor usually recurs, requiring additional treatments, and sometimes improves temporarily. The physician may prescribe topical creams, oral antifungal medications, or monthly shampoo treatments.
This infection can also cause a change in skin color, which can take several months to return to normal.
Many childhood viral infections are called viral exanthems. Exanthem means rash or skin eruption. Childhood viral exanthems include the following:
Three main groups of viruses cause the majority of viral skin infections, including the following:
Other childhood viral skin infections include the following:
Herpes zoster, or shingles, is a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox). The virus causes a painful rash of small blisters on a strip of skin anywhere on the body. On some occasions, the pain may continue for a prolonged period of time even after the rash is gone.
After a person has had chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in the nerves. If the virus reactivates, however, it causes shingles. Herpes zoster is more common in people with depressed immune systems or over the age of 50. It is very rare in children, and the symptoms are mild compared to what an adult may experience.
Children who have weakened immune systems may experience the same, or more severe, symptoms as adults, however.
Herpes zoster most often occurs on the trunk and buttocks, but can also appear on the arms, legs, or face. Each child may experience the symptoms differently. The most common symptoms may include:
The symptoms of herpes zoster may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult a physician for a diagnosis.
Diagnosis usually involves obtaining a medical history of the child and performing a physical examination. Diagnosis may also include:
Specific treatment for herpes zoster will be determined by a physician based on:
Medication may help alleviate some of the pain, but the condition has to run its course. Immediate treatment with antiviral drugs may help lessen some of the symptoms. Use of medication will be determined by a physician based on the age of the child and the severity of the symptoms.
Pityriasis rosea is a mild, but common, skin condition that is characterized by scaly, pink, inflamed skin. The condition can last from four to eight weeks but usually leaves no lasting marks.
The cause of pityriasis rosea is not known, but it is likely caused by a virus. It usually occurs in children, adolescents, and young adults (more than 75 percent of people with the rash are 10 to 35 years of age.) In addition, pityriasis rosea is more common in spring and fall.
Pityriasis rosea usually starts with a pink or tan oval area (sometimes called a herald or mother patch) on the chest or back. The main patch is usually followed (after a few weeks) by smaller pink or tan patches elsewhere on the body, usually the back, neck, arms, and legs. The scaly rash usually lasts between four to eight weeks and will often disappear without treatment.
Each child may experience the symptoms differently. Common symptoms include:
The symptoms of pityriasis rosea may resemble other skin conditions or medical problems. Always consult a physician for a diagnosis.