Skin Allergy Treatment for Children Questions and Answers
The medical professionals at Night Light Pediatrics provide effective treatment for skin allergies and rashes in children. Read our commonly asked questions below.
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What are skin allergies?
Skin allergies are the formation of a red, itchy, irritated rash on the skin’s surface after coming into contact with an allergen that triggers the body’s immune system to fight against. Two of the most common skin rashes that are related to allergic reactions are eczema and hives. Eczema is identified by dry, irritated, red and itchy skin. There may also be small, fluid-filled bumps on the affected area, especially if the area has become infected. Hives can be identified by welts or red bumps that appear on the body. Reactions that last less than six weeks are often caused by an infection or by exposure to an allergen.
What causes Skin Allergies?
While the exact cause isn’t known for why some people are affected by allergies and others aren’t, the reaction itself is caused by the immune system overreacting to contact with an allergen. This overreaction produces antibodies that are sent to fight off the foreign substance and protect the body from it, which results in an itchy, red rash at the contact site. This is called contact dermatitis, which comes in two different types – irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis is the result of contact with an irritant such as chemicals and cleaning supplies that would affect most people. Allergic contact dermatitis refers to the allergic reaction when the skin comes into contact with an allergen. An allergen is often a substance that most people will not have a reaction to that can be found in everyday products.
What are the symptoms of Skin Allergies?
Skin allergies typically present themselves in the form of an itchy, red rash on the skin’s surface at the site of contact with the allergen. This could be from direct contact between the skin and the allergen, or as a transfer of the allergen from another surface to the allergy sufferer’s skin. This is known as allergic contact dermatitis and is the immune system’s way of fighting against a substance that they have deemed harmful. There is also airborne contact dermatitis, where an allergic reaction happens on the skin’s surface, with a similar itchy, red rash, usually found on the eyelids, head and neck. In the case of airborne contact dermatitis though, the allergen that the body is reacting to is something from the air that has settled on the skin. These allergens can include pollen, powders, fibers, chemical sprays or smokes.
What are common newborn rashes I should be aware of?
Newborn babies are prone to all sorts of rashes, most of which are harmless and will clear up on their own without treatment. Babies’ skin can form pink pimples, called neonatal acne, that can last for weeks or months on the baby’s skin, with no treatment needed. Another common newborn rash is erythema toxicum which has red blotches with undefined borders that are slightly raised and possibly a white or yellow dot in the center. This one also resolves itself within a few days or weeks without treatment. Blocked oil glands can cause little white bumps on the nose and face that will disappear as the baby’s oil glands enlarge naturally. Salmon patches can appear on the back of the neck or between the eyes and are the result of blood vessels pooling that is harmless. A greasy, yellowish crust on the baby’s scalp is a sign of cradle cap, which your doctor can tell you how to treat based on the symptoms. Eczema is another rash, this time with red, itchy patches, that your doctor can determine a treatment plan for, if needed. Prickly heat shows up with small red bumps, particularly in areas where the baby overheats, such as the neck, armpits and diaper area, and is treated by keeping the baby’s skin dry. Babies can also get fungal infections on the tongue, in the diaper area and in skin creases. On the tongue, it is known as thrush and appears to be dried milk that can’t be scraped off. On the skin it shows up as an intense red rash with small bumps around the perimeter. It can be treated with antifungal medications.
When to see a doctor?
Rashes on children, and particularly babies, can cause new parents to panic, especially when they appear suddenly and are very vibrant in color. Any rash that is accompanied by other symptoms such as low appetite, lethargy, cough or fever that appears in the first few months of a baby’s life needs to be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. For older children, a doctor visit is in order if the rash is painful, hasn’t improved after a few days or is accompanied by a fever. Following your intuition is not a bad thing when it comes to your child’s health, so if you feel like a rash is out of the ordinary, it is best to get it checked over to ensure it isn’t a sign of something more serious.