Healthy skin….. Happiness galore

Dr. Nalika Liyanage
Consultant Dermatologist
Provincial General Hospital Badulla

 

Our skin is our pride. A persons’ appearance and complexion are intricately dependent on his/her skin which may quite often be damaged by various conditions. Yet if proper attention is paid to your skin most of these challenges can be easily overcome. This article hopes to draw your attention towards various skin infections and allergies encountered especially in children.

The skin is the most sensitive as well as the largest organ of the human body. First let us get a brief idea of this organ which acts as a barrier between us and the outside environment.

 

Functions of skin

Our skin protects us from external harmful agents such as ultra violet waves, toxins and micro-organisms.
At the same time it plays a role in temperature regulation and prevents us from getting dehydrated by controlling the amount of water that leaves our body. It is important in maintaining immunity and produces Vitamin “D” when exposed to sunlight.

 

Skin infections in pre- school aged children

Little children are prone to falls which result in damage to the skin which may subsequently get infected.

 

Bacterial infections of the skin

 

In little children bacterial infections can result in pus filled blisters anywhere in the body and even on the head.

A wound with a scab

An infection may begin as a small blister which gradually increases in size and ends up as a wound covered with a scab. The face is a common site and initially lesions may be seen around the nose and mouth and later spread all over the body. They may be painful and at times itchy as well.

 

Viral infections of the skin

 

Warts

There are two varieties of warts commonly seen in children. They mostly appear on fingers, palms, toes and soles of the feet and are small skin coloured growths.

Molluscum Contagiosum

These have a shiny whitish bead like appearance and may appear around the mouth.

 

Fungal infections of the skin

 

Ring worm infections

The cause is a fungal infection and it produces an itchy red ring with blistery and scaly borders.

Dandruff

Dandruff maybe seen in children of this playful age group. In addition to the white flakey appearance there may be a certain degree of hair loss.

Kerion

A kerion is an abscess or pus filled lesion caused following a severe fungal skin infection. They can be multiple and appear on various parts of the body though the head is the commonest site. If it isn’t identified and properly treated it could lead to hair loss and scarring at the site.

 

Germ infections of the skin

 

Itch (“Hori”)

Preschool children who are in close contact with other children their age are prone to get skin infections which result in severe itchiness all over the body, especially in the hands, between finger webs and the soles accompanied by the appearance of tiny blisters which may later spread all over the body. Itching is worse at night. This is a common and highly contagious condition.

 

Allergic skin conditions in children

 

Eczema

It is a common condition with intense itchiness which results in inflamed patches on the skin which may become blistered and weepy. It may occur in any part of the skin but is usually seen on the face, joints of the body such as around the neck, hands, near the elbow joint, behind the knee joint and around the ankle joint. One should expect several flare ups of eczema which would occur from time to time over several years.

Papular urticaria

Preschool children love to play in the sand and mud and hence are prone to insect, ant and tick bites. If this continues for a long time your child may develop an allergic reaction with the appearance of small itchy blisters especially on the hands and feet.

Dry skin

Dry skin is a common problem encountered by many. A persons’ skin may change according to the weather and climate prevalent in different areas.
But some may experience dry skin due to a medical condition which is genetically determined. Commonly known as “fish scales” there can be several varieties. As a whole they are known as “Icthyosis”. The skin will be very dry and scaly and appear as cracked lines usually in the arms and legs.

 

Spots and scars

 

White spots

Are frequently seen on the face and are mistakenly attributed to a worm infection by certain mothers. These white patches on the face are a form of eczema but do not itch. It is not a cause for worry.

Pityriasis versicolor (“Aluham”)

May be seen in children

Patchy hair loss

This is an autoimmune condition seen in some children where certain cells in the skin act against its’ own hair follicles which results in the hair falling off at the level of the skin. Attributing it to an infection is a misconception present among many.
The end results are circular areas of hair loss which might be quite distressing to parents. Proper treatment will result in regrowth of hair while seeking home remedies is not advisable.

What should be done to maintain healthy skin?

The childs’ diet plays an important role in healthy skin. Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables should be added to meals and adequate amounts of water must be taken. Additional vitamins are not needed for healthy and clear skin and shouldn’t be given to children without a proper indication.
Children of this age group are prone to always get themselves dirty hence cleanliness is of immense importance. Unless advised otherwise due to a medical condition, daily baths and washing should be done. Mild baby soaps should be used and the use of moisturizing creams will help prevent drying of skin.
If you see an unusual patch or spot on the skin of your child consult a qualified doctor. Following home remedies such as applying various concoctions produced from leaves of trees etc. is not advisable.

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