COMMON SKIN INFECTIONS IN CHILDREN
What is molluscum contagiosum?
contagiosum is a viral skin infection that involves the outer layer of skin,
causing tiny white bumps. The centre of the bump may have a depression filled
with white material. Molluscum is contagious, but many older children and
adults are immune to it. Infants and toddlers are more susceptible to catching
molluscum. The bumps can appear anywhere, including the face. Usually it causes
no harm, but your child may scratch or pick at the bumps, leading to infection
by bacteria. The infection can also trigger a localised eczematous reaction.
What causes molluscum contagiosum?
contagiosum is caused by a pox virus. It can be transmitted to other areas of
skin or to other children. The molluscum virus hides from the immune system and
natural immunity may take a few years to develop.
Your doctor may try
to treat the molluscum by destroying them by pricking, freezing or applying a
medicated cream to the surface, for example imiquimod cream or tretinoin cream.
Will my child grow out of molluscum contagiosum?
molluscum may last 2 to 3 years. It clears when immunity to the virus develops.
Can my child go swimming?
contagious through skin to skin contact and sharing of clothes and towels. It
is advisable to avoid swimming if your child has molluscum.
What are warts?
Warts are caused by
a virus, the human papillomavirus, that infects the outer layer of skin.
The most common type of wart is
a raised, rough bump which commonly affects the hands and feet. Sometimes warts
are not as raised and rough; these are called flat warts and these are often
seen on the face. Some children may get only a few warts, whereas others may
get dozens. Although warts may
spread and look unsightly, they
are harmless and will usually last 1 to 2 years if untreated.
There is no
treatment that specifically kills the wart virus, so the goal of treatment is
to remove the skin that contains the wart virus. There are many types of
treatment for warts. Common treatment options include freezing, burning with a
laser or applying medication. It usually takes several visits to get rid of the
(freezing) with liquid Nitrogen
Warts that are
frozen may develop a blister within 1 or 2 days. If a large blister develops,
soak the skin in warm water and then gently prick the blister.
lotion or plaster
Wart lotions and
plasters frequently turn the skin white. Every 2 or 3 days, rub off the dead
white skin with a washcloth after bathing.
Are there any problems with wart treatment?
The more warts a
child has, and the larger the wart, the harder they are to treat. It may take
many treatment sessions to eliminate warts and you must follow the directions
of your doctor or the treatment is unlikely to work. Recurrence of warts is
Will my child grow out of warts?
Yes. In most
children the wart virus evades the child’s immune system. It may take 1 to 2
years to develop immunity and the warts will then clear.
Can my child go swimming?
Warts are contagious
through skin to skin contact and sharing of clothes and towels. It is advisable
to avoid swimming if your child has warts.
Impetigo is a skin
infection caused by bacteria, most commonly Staphylococcus or Streptococcus. Impetigo
develops if the bacteria gets into the skin and multiply. Impetigo is more
likely to develop when the skin has a poor barrier function or when its immune
system is impaired, for example in children with eczema. Impetigo may also
develop in children with poor skin hygiene or from contact with someone with
Impetigo may appear as painful
or irritating blisters, sores or yellow crusts stuck to the skin. It appears commonly
on the face and limbs, but can develop anywhere.
Impetigo is treated
with oral antibiotics. It is important to complete the course of antibiotics prescribed
by your doctor.
Discourage children from
touching affected areas of skin and encourage them to wash their hands
frequently. They should not share towels or bedding.
Impetigo is contagious. Children
should be kept away from school or nursery until they have no new skin lesions
and all the old lesions have dried up.
Candidiasis is a
fungal infection which commonly affects the skin folds such as the diaper area.
The candida fungus thrives in a warm and moist environment. Signs of infection
include red areas of skin with small blisters filled with pus.
For children wearing
diapers, frequent changes are recommended. A suggested interval of every two to
three hours, as well as an instant change after every bowel movement.
Your doctor will
prescribe an antifungal cream to be used on the affected areas. The treatment
is usually applied two or three times per day until the rash clears.
Skin barrier ointment or paste
Skin ointments or
pastes which contain zinc oxide, dimethicone and/or petrolatum form a
protective barrier against wetness. These may help to prevent recurrence of the
rash in the diaper area.
Scabies is an itchy
skin condition that can present as red bumps particularly the hands, skin
folds, genitalia and abdomen.
What causes scabies?
The condition is
caused by the scabies mite, which is not visible to the naked eye, and can only
be seen with the help of a microscope. It is transmitted from humans and often
occurs within families. It is easily transmitted during close contact because
people with scabies do not have itch or itchy bumps in the first few weeks of
infection. You should ask if any household member or persons in contact with
your child have itchy bumps.
What treatment options are available?
Your doctor may
prescribe a scabicide to apply, such as permethrin lotion or malathion lotion.
In any infant or toddler, covering the hands with clothing to prevent licking
the scabicide from the skin is recommended. Repeated treatments 1 week apart may
occasionally be required. A follow up visit with your doctor is needed to
confirm that the treatment has been successful.
Are there any problems in scabies treatment?
The lotion should be
applied to the whole body, including the skin folds, nappy area, palms and
If the scalp is
affected, this should be treated as well. Do not apply to the eyes, nose or
mouth. The lotion should be left on for 8 to 14 hours before washing off.
All family members and domestic
helpers who have come into close contact with the child should be treated in a similar manner. The
child’s clothing and bed linen should be laundered.