As adults, it’s easy to be a bit jealous of children’s skin. They often have smoother, more supple, wrinkle-free skin that doesn’t show any of the signs of aging the rest of us have to endure. But that doesn’t mean pediatric dermatology isn’t just as important as dermatology for the rest of us! At SKC Dermatology in Paramus, NJ, Dr. Sunny Chun brings both her expertise as a board-certified pediatric dermatologist and her insights as a parent into play as she helps you prioritize your child’s health.
The Importance of Pediatric Dermatology
What Is Dermatology About?
General practitioners have an important place in your child’s healthcare, but it’s also essential to seek out advice and treatment from a specialist when necessary. Primary care doctors are excellent at diagnosing and treating general health issues, but when your child has a skin-specific complaint, dermatology is the right choice.
This branch of medical science focuses on the health of the skin, hair, scalp, and nails. What many people don’t fully realize is that the skin is actually one of our body’s organs: the largest one, in fact. As our largest organ, and one of the most important, the health of our skin has a lot to do with our overall health. When you have a trained professional examining your child’s skin, they can identify issues manifesting in the skin that are clues about your child’s overall underlying health.
Just as important, a pediatric dermatologist has a particular ability to work with children, calming their fears and getting to the root of their skin issues in a way that children and even teens find reassuring and sensitive.
What Kinds of Issues Can a Pediatric Dermatologist Treat?
While many people think of pediatric dermatology as beginning and ending with acne treatments, in reality, there is much more to it. We can treat:
For preteens and teens, acne can be a devastating condition that interferes with social situations and self-esteem. Acne occurs when hair follicles get plugged up with dead skin cells and bacteria and so form pimples.
Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
This chronic and long-lasting form of eczema occurs in nearly 13% of American children. It usually starts in early childhood and is common among children with a family history of asthma and hay fever. This is an immune-system related inflammatory disease, and in some cases, it may be the easiest symptom to identify in an auto-immune disorder.
Allergy/Allergic Contact Dermatitis
When your child’s skin comes into contact with something they’re allergic to, the results can be itching and redness. For children, the problem can be especially difficult because it’s hard to track down what they’ve been touching or communicate to them the importance of not scratching. This makes it even more important to treat children quickly.
Bacterial Skin Infections
Most children suffer from a skin infection at some point in life, and it’s important to discover the source of your child’s infection for the best treatment. Without the right treatment, the condition will only get worse.
Congenital Melanocytic Nevi
Congenital Melanocytic Nevi, or moles, are quite common in children. Fortunately, the vast majority of these are benign. Sometimes, however, they are not, and any mole that is developing or changing should be seen by a pediatric dermatologist. It’s also important to note that the more moles a child has, the greater their associated risk for developing melanoma.
Cradle cap, or infantile seborrheic dermatitis, is a common and usually harmless condition causing scaling and flaking on an infant’s head. It may also present on the groin, nose, eyelids, and ears. In most cases, it’s not itchy or painful. However, if home treatments aren’t working or if the condition seems to be spreading, see a dermatologist.
Genetic Skin Disease
There are many types of genetic skin diseases that can require a complex diagnosis by a qualified professional. In some cases, these conditions require specialized care as they don’t respond to over-the-counter or topical treatments.
This term refers to a number of genetic conditions that tend to manifest themselves as conditions of the skin. They are usually seen at birth or soon after, and they can be an indication of a very serious underlying disorder. It’s important to identify these issues early on and get the right treatment for long-term health.
Hair Loss & Hair Conditions
Hair loss in adults is often accepted as a normal sign of aging, but for children, excessive hair loss could indicate a serious underlying condition. Children do lose hair regularly every day, but if the amount is excessive or if parents are noticing thinning patches, it could be the result of tinea capitis, or ringworm. It could also result from vitamin A overdose, severe emotional distress, or an immune disorder where the immune system attacks the hair follicles. It’s important to get this tested quickly.
Herpes Simplex Virus
This very contagious condition easily spreads from adults to children through kissing, sharing towels or cups, and other actions. Once a child has the virus, it can cause cold sores any time they are exposed to hot sun or cold wind or when their immune system is weak after an illness. For infants, cold sores can be especially dangerous and should be treated immediately.
In children, hives often present as welts of swollen patches on the surface of the skin. These often itch and can be easily spread along the child’s body as they itch. Hives aren’t uncommon in children, as they are an immune system reaction and children’s immune systems are in the process of learning how to react. When hives occur often or too frequently, though, it’s important to get a professional diagnosis to relieve the itching and discomfort. In some cases, hives can be a sign of a very severe allergic reaction. If your child is having trouble breathing or if their face is swelling, call 911 immediately.
Infestations & Parasites
Parasites and infestations can occur at any age. Young children who attend daycare are at greater risk for giardiasis, while pinworm is a common infection among young school-aged children. Lice and scabies are also infections to watch out for. These conditions, and more, can be very dangerous if left to themselves, but the good news is that modern medicine can effectively and quickly treat these infestations, so early diagnosis is key.
This harmless hereditary condition causes dry, red, bumpy skin. Mild cases aren’t anything to worry about, but it is important to rule out other, more serious conditions that may look similar. In addition, more severe cases of keratosis pilaris can cause your child to suffer low self-esteem around other children because of the way their skin looks. Pediatric dermatology can help control this condition.
Nail disorders can be completely benign or evidence of a more serious condition. Beau’s lines, for instance, can signal a zinc deficiency, while “spoon nails” can be linked to iron deficiency. Other nail issues come from constant nail biting or thumb sucking, while still others are the result of minor trauma and will go away on their own. We can help you understand what nail condition your child has so you can get them the help they need.
Rosacea is rare in children, but when it does appear, it is important to treat it because it can spread to the eye. When children are diagnosed with rosacea, it’s not uncommon for them to need an eye examination as well. Misdiagnosis of this condition happens often simply because it is less common in children, so it’s always a good idea to seek the advice of a pediatric dermatologist to find out if rosacea is really the culprit.
Normally, skin tags aren’t painful or dangerous. However, just as with adults, children can be very self-conscious about the presence of a skin tag. In addition, if a skin tag appears in a place where zippers and clothes often catch, they can be irritating and painful. A simple treatment at our office can take care of this issue so your child is ready to face the world with smooth skin.
The better you protect your child’s skin from the sun, the healthier they will be. It only takes a few sunburns in childhood to dramatically increase the chance of your child developing skin cancer later on in adulthood. The lighter your child’s skin, and the younger they are, the more protection they need. Come see us so we can give you the best advice about your child’s personal sun sensitivity and how to protect them for life.
Warts in children are quite common, and about 10% to 20% of children will have them at some point. They are contagious, but they are also usually harmless. The biggest problem with warts is usually the social and self-esteem burden they can cause if the warts are noticed by peers or if your child is being teased.
Warts are caused by the HPV virus and easily contracted by various daily activities. If your child has warts, and particularly if they are in obvious places where they can cause unwanted attention, we can help.
The Benefits of Early Dermatological Intervention
By treating your child early, you can identify potential problems before they become serious issues and set your child up for a lifetime of healthy skin. But there are some other key benefits to pediatric dermatology:
The scars we develop as children and teens can cause self-esteem and confidence issues in adulthood. They can make it harder to form relationships and even interfere with career opportunities. By treating issues early, you minimize the possibility of scaring.
Protect From Serious Illness
Our skin is meant to protect our whole body, providing a barrier against bacteria, viruses, and more that can cause serious illness if they get past the skin barrier. By having your kids treated early, you can be sure they’re protected for life.
Prioritize Your Child’s Health
Visit us today at SKC Dermatology in Paramus, NJ and see how caring for your child’s dermatological health can improve their overall physical and emotional health and set them up for a successful future. We’re looking forward to meeting your family!