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8 common skins conditions in kids: A parent’s guide

Skin is a big deal. It’s not only the body’s largest organ, but it also serves a multitude of functions from protecting against germs, toxins and the elements to regulating body temperature.

The skin is also a canvas for an assortment of itchy and irritating conditions, ranging from mild and ordinary to painful and serious. Children are especially susceptible to bumps, blotches and rashes – which can be worrisome and confusing for parents.


How common are skin conditions in children?

Skin conditions are one of the most common reasons people bring their kiddos to urgent care.

According to a recent study, more than 90 percent of school-age children have had at least one skin condition. Here’s why:

  • Because their immune systems aren’t fully developed, children are more sensitive and susceptible to viruses, allergens and bacteria that can cause rashes, irritation and inflammation.
  • Despite their compact size, children have more skin in relation to their overall size compared with adults. More skin means more opportunities for skin issues.
  • Hormonal fluctuations during growth spurts and puberty can cause skin to be excessively dry or oily.


What are the main causes of skin conditions in children?

There are many different types of skin issues that can affect babies, toddlers, children and teens. The most common causes are:

  • Dermatitis. This general term covers a range of ailments that can cause red, dry and itchy skin. Serious cases of dermatitis can result in crusty scales, painful cracks or oozing blisters. The most common types of dermatitis include.

    • Contact dermatitis: A skin rash caused by contact with a certain substance.
    • Atopic dermatitis: An itchy inflammation of the skin.
    • Seborrheic dermatitis: A skin condition that causes scaly patches and red skin, mainly on the scalp.
  • Viral infections. Along with sniffles, aches and fever, rashes are also a common sign of a viral infection. The rash can start anywhere on the body, often on the face or trunk, and spread.

  • Bacterial infections. When bacteria penetrate the skin, various skin conditions can occur, including hives, rashes, boils and more. Bacterial skin conditions often begin as small, red bumps that slowly increase in size.

  • Fungal infections. If harmful fungi lands on your skin, you may develop a rash or feel itchy. Athlete’s foot, ringworm and jock itch are common fungal skin infections.


What are the most common skin conditions in children?

There are several skin conditions that can affect children. Here are eight of the most common:

  1. Eczema. Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a common inflammatory condition in infants and children. At least 1 in 10 children have eczema.

    Eczema appears as red, itchy and scaly patches. In babies, eczema typically starts on the scalp and face. In young school-age children, the rash is most commonly on the elbow creases, around the eyes, on the neck and on the backs of knees.

    While the cause of eczema is unknown, health experts believe genetics and environmental factors play a large role. Children with family members who have allergies, asthma or hay fever are more likely to develop eczema.

    Prognosis and treatment: Most children will outgrow eczema or have significant improvement as they get older. There is no cure for eczema, but flareups can be managed by a health care provider.


  1. Diaper rash. This tender, irritating infection is marked by patches of inflamed skin. Diaper rash is typically related to wet diapers, skin sensitivity and chafing.

    Prognosis and treatment: Most diaper rashes will improve within a few days with over-the-counter ointment and more frequent diaper changes. Seek medical treatment if the rash is severe, persistent or open wounds appear.


  1. Cradle cap: This form of dermatitis most often appears in babies in the first two months. It appears as rough, scaly, yellowish patches on the scalp.

    Prognosis and treatment:  Cradle cap will typically go away on its own within a few months. If it is severe or persists, it can be treated with medicated shampoos.


  1. Warts. This common skin condition is caused when the human papilloma virus (HPV) enters a cut in the skin and causes a wart to form. Warts affect 1 in 5 children. While harmless, warts are very contagious and spread through skin-to-skin contact.

    Prognosis and treatment: While there is no cure for warts, most will go away on their own within several months to a couple of years. An Indigo provider can offer guidance on treatment options.   


  1. Hand, foot and mouth disease. This mild and contagious viral infection is common in kids under the age of 5. In addition to a fever and flu-like symptoms, children also develop painful, red blisters in the mouth and throat. Spots also appear and on the hands and soles of the feet, but may also pop up on the arms, legs and buttocks.

    Prognosis and treatment: There is no cure for hand, foot and mouth disease. Symptoms will typically go away on their own within 7 to 10 days. Anti-itch lotion, such as calamine, can help relieve rash discomfort.


  1. Impetigo: This highly contagious bacterial infection is common in infants and children. The main symptom of impetigo is red sores that form around the nose and mouth. When the sores rupture, a crusty, yellowish scab forms.

    Prognosis and treatment: Oral or topical antibiotics can help shorten the infection and prevent the spread to others.


  1. Psoriasis: An estimated 8 million people in the U.S. have this itchy skin condition, and 40 percent develop symptoms before the age of 16. Psoriasis causes patches of thick red skin and silver scales, which can be found on the elbows, knees, scalp, hands and other body parts. While the cause isn’t fully understood, psoriasis is thought to be an immune system problem triggered by infections, stress and cold.

    Prognosis and treatment: There is no cure for psoriasis, and it can come and go throughout your life. Topical ointments, light therapy and medications can improve symptoms.


  1. Acne. This common skin condition is caused when hair follicles under the skin become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Acne affects 9 out of 10 teenagers. Symptoms range from blackheads to pus-filled pimples or large, red and tender bumps. Acne most common appears on the face, forehead, chest, shoulders and upper back. Persistent or severe acne can lead to permanent scarring if left untreated. Severe acne is also linked to increased depression, anxiety and poor self-esteem.

    Acne can also occur in babies. About 20 percent of newborns have neonatal acne, which causes small facial bumps and pimples. Baby acne is usually temporary and will usually go away on its own.

    Prognosis and treatment: If an at-home skin care routine isn’t effective, a health care provider can recommend and prescribe appropriate treatments. Learn more about adolescent acne and when your teen should be seen by a doctor here.


Indigo is here when your child needs relief

While most skin conditions that happen during childhood aren’t a reason for concern and will improve on their own, Indigo is here to help when medical care and treatment is needed. Indigo makes it easy and convenient to get the urgent care you need when you need it.

Simply walk in or book an online appointment at one of our convenient neighborhood locations if your child’s skin condition:

  • Is accompanied by a fever or other symptoms, such as a sore throat, headache, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Covers the entire body.
  • Progressively enlarges or multiplies.
  • Causes moderate to severe discomfort.
  • Does not improve in two to three days.
  • Looks like a bruise without a history of trauma.
  • Is in or around sensitive areas like the eyes, ears, mouth and genitals.
  • There are signs of an allergic reaction or bacterial infection.

You can also schedule an online care visit to meet face-to-face with an Indigo provider. We’re here 8 am to 8 pm every day.

We’ll assess your child’s symptoms, provide a prompt diagnosis and treatment plan, and follow up to see how they’re doing. And if your child needs to see a specialist, just leave the referral to us.

In some cases, your child’s rash could be a sign of a life-threatening allergic reaction. Visit your nearest emergency room or call 9-1-1 if your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Wheezing, coughing or difficulty breathing.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Swelling in the tongue or face.

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