Diagnosing common skin conditions in babies and children« Back to Articles
Like adults, babies and children can suffer from a variety of skin conditions that bring on rashes, itching, sores, blisters and inflammation.
Whilst often unpleasant, these symptoms aren’t generally dangerous to the child. However, further investigation will be required if the child is unwell, lethargic or has a high temperature.
Common skin conditions in under 10s particularly include:
- Hand, foot and mouth
- Chicken pox
- Slapped cheek syndrome
This one needs flagging up as although most skin conditions in children are benign, meningitis clearly is not. If meningitis is suspected, urgent treatment is required. Although meningitis can strike anyone at any age, it’s particularly common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults.
Meningitis rashes typically begin as small, red pinpricks. However, very quickly the pin pricks ‘join up’ to create angry looking red or purple blotches. When a clear glass is pressed against the rash, if it doesn’t fade then alarm bells should ring. For bacterial meningitis, a course of intravenous ceftriaxone is the usual treatment pathway, depending on the course of the illness and other symptoms.
Other concerning signs of meningitis include a stiff neck, high temperature, a loud, high-pitched cry, headache, confusion, drowsiness, vomiting, unusually cold hands and feet and light sensitivity.
Common causes of skin conditions in babies and children
Most skin conditions in babies and children are the result of a combination of factors, including:
- Allergies to pollen, house dust mites, saliva, pet hair and certain foods (for example eggs, cows’ milk, gluten, soya, peanuts and wheat)
- Weather which is particularly dry or cold
- Certain shampoos, detergents, bubble baths and household cleaning products
- Dampness and mould
- Some clothes fabrics (for example synthetic materials and wool)
- Chlorine and other chemicals added to swimming pool water
Diagnosis and treatment
When a baby or child is ill or in distress, the parents or caregivers for that child will be looking for reassurance. So it’s important to offer that reassurance whilst carrying out a thorough examination of the skin and taking a full patient history. It’s also essential to ascertain whether anything in the child’s environment has changed recently, for example is a new washing powder being used or has the child been swimming recently. Any medication the child is currently taking should also be considered before further treatment is considered.
Most types of skin conditions will respond to a steroid cream or emollient. However, further investigation should be undertaken if the skin doesn’t clear up following treatment, if there are other concerning symptoms, or if the child’s condition deteriorates.
Learn the essentials around the management of minor illnesses in babies and children with our online CPD course
Do you feel confident in diagnosing and treating childhood skin conditions, while offering parents the reassurance they need? Can you spot the minor skin problems versus something more serious?
Designed specifically for nurses and other front line allied health professionals, PDUK is pleased to offer its highly popular CPD course: Paediatric minor illness.
Held online via Zoom, the course looks in detail at childhood minor illnesses from infancy to late teens. It’s ideal for healthcare professionals who are already confident with physical examination and history taking but who now wish to explore a variety of paediatric conditions in an evidence based context. It’s the perfect chance to learn remotely and network with others whilst building on your expertise.
Like all our courses, this one tends to fill up quickly so why not look through the course details and secure your place today.