The most common skin problems in children are things we already recognize: bug bites, scrapes, and bruises. However, eczema and infections are also up there with the rest. Here is a quick summary of what each condition is and how to treat them:
Bug bites: Children are more likely to get bigger reactions to bug bites. Typically children will get much bigger bumps from a bite than an adult would. For mild mosquito and ant bites, you can generally apply anti-itch hydrocortisone cream, which can be found at any drug store. For more severe bites such as spider bites and bee stings, apply an ice pack right away to prevent swelling (make sure to alternate on and off to prevent tissue damage) and apply antibiotic ointment and hydrocortisone cream. If the bite doesn’t seem to be getting better, consult a doctor right away.
Scrapes: Since children spend a good chunk of time playing outdoors, it is very common for them to get scraped and bruised. The best way to care for a scrape or cut is to follow this procedure: clean, treat, protect. First, clean off the cut with water and soap or antiseptic fluid. Second, treat the cut with antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin. Lastly, protect your cut with a Band-Aid and give it time to heal.
Bruises: Bruises occur when the body is hit by a blunt force. The blood vessels under your skin tear and blood leaks, causing them to look reddish purple in color. How to treat: rest the bruise, apply an icepack to prevent the bruise from spreading, and elevate the bruise area above heart level. You can also rub ointments containing Vitamin K to help the body’s blood absorption since less blood will reduce the size of the bruise. Other than that, the bruise should go away on its own in a couple of days.
Eczema: a skin condition that causes the skin to become inflamed and irritated. Causes of eczema are unknown, but it has been linked to an overactive response by the body’s immune system to unknown triggers. Affected areas usually appear very dry, thickened, or scaly. To treat eczema, lotions and creams are prescribed to keep the skin moist. There are also topical steroids, immunomodulators, antihistamines, to name a few. Consult a doctor to know what treatments are best for your child. The good news: many children either outgrow their eczema or it will get better as they get older. Many children find it soothing to substitute oatmeal baths and cleansing bars (Aveeno et. al.) for soaps, and shampoos at bathtime.
Bacterial Infections: humans are natural hosts for many bacterial species that colonize the skin. Predisposing factors to infection include minor trauma, preexisting skin disease, and poor hygiene. One generally effective way to treat infections is with topical treatment, either bacitracin (Neosporin) or mupirocin (Bactroban), applied frequently throughout the day for 7 days.
Rashes: the most common rashes are called dermatitis, which is the inflammation of the skin. It results in redness and change in texture, as well as itching. One effective way to treat a common rash is to apply aloe vera. There are other options as well, such as Vitamin E and cod liver oil moisturizers. Another option is preparing Chamomile tea, pouring it over the affected area, and allowing it to dry.
Some children might have a sensitivity to Neosporin, or hydrocortisone, so be sure to consult with your pediatrician about other options and substitute products.