Children and infants have young developing immune systems. As the system matures gradually, it faces various challenges from infective agents and allergens. This sometimes predisposes young children to a range of skin diseases.

Dr Heah Sheau Szu, Consultant Paediatric Dermatologist at Sunway Medical Centre, Sunway City (SMC), shares, “Every skin condition has its unique management approach. Inaccurate diagnosis can lead to improper treatment which may be ineffective, delay recovery or even be potentially harmful.”

Common skin diseases among children

There are various types of skin diseases and some are more common than others. A few simple examples are:

  • Atopic Dermatitis (AD) – AD/eczema is a very common skin disease causing inflammation and irritation with itchy, red, and dry patches. It is the most common type of skin disease in children, impacting up to 13% Malaysian children.
  • Sebaceous gland hyperplasia – presents as clusters of small white yellowish pimple-like lesions around the nose and cheek areas of infants which happens due to maternal or endogenous androgenic stimulation of the sebaceous gland growth.
  • “Salmon patch”/“Angel kiss”/“Stork–bite mark” – these are interesting names given to benign vascular lesions usually at the forehead, glabella and nape of the neck. This birthmark is asymptomatic and will fade with time.
  • Bullous impetigo – is an infectious skin condition presented as fluid-filled blisters often on the chest, back, shoulders, abdomen, arms and legs of children below 5 years old. It commonly occurs following secondary bacterial infection of insect bites, chicken pox, scabies and eczema.
  • Molluscum contagiosum – It is a viral skin infection that leads to small, flesh-coloured dome shaped like skin bumps which are near together.
  • Scabies – A contagious parasitic infection that causes severe itching and scaly rash on fingers, web spaces, wrists, axilla and groin.
  • Diaper rash – A common skin condition at diaper area resulting from prolonged skin irritation from exposure to faeces, urine and friction.

Importance of correct diagnosis

“All medical conditions, including children’s skin conditions, need to be managed with correct diagnosis followed by appropriate treatment and management plan. Some skin conditions, like atopic dermatitis, can have various presentations, and might be confused with other conditions. Similarity of many skin conditions can make diagnosis difficult sometimes.”

“The treatment for skin diseases in children will vary depending on the specific conditions. For example, skin conditions like salmon patch and sebaceous gland hyperplasia are not infectious and can resolve naturally while scabies is infectious and the whole family needs to be treated,” said Dr Heah.

Managing skin diseases

Dr Heah also shared general guidelines in managing skin diseases, “Know the common skin conditions. These conditions are largely mild and benign, though rarely it can be serious with occasional systemic involvement.”

“It is advisable for caregivers to refer to a medical doctor for the correct diagnosis and treatment whenever they are uncertain. Once diagnosed, patients are advised to follow the treatment plan given by the doctor. Avoid scratching, as this can worsen the infection and remember to always keep the infected area clean and dry. It is also best for the child to be dressed in comfortable, loose-fitting outfits to avoid friction to the infected area,” continued Dr Heah.

As the country’s largest private quaternary hospital with 22 paediatric subspecialties, the most among private hospitals in Malaysia, SMC believes in the importance of continuous medical education among the paediatric fraternity. This was shown when the SunMed Paediatric Symposium 2023 held by SMC attracted over 4,200 healthcare professionals. Participants from Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand, amongst other countries, joined the event physically and virtually to gain updated knowledge on incorporating a multidisciplinary approach in paediatrics disease management.

All children deserve the best expert care for their diseases. Children’s skin disorders can be managed with accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

This article is contributed by Dr Heah Sheau Szu, Consultant Paediatric Dermatologist at Sunway Medical Centre, Sunway City, and does not represent the views or opinions of Health Matters Malaysia.

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