Common Skin Infections in Children
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Patient Guide

 Common Skin Infections in Children

 Common Skin Infections in Children

Molluscum contagiosum

What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum 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.

What causes molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum 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.

Treatment

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?

Left untreated, molluscum may last two to three years.  It clears when immunity to the virus develops.

Can my child go swimming?

Molluscum is contagious through skin to skin contact and sharing of clothes and towels.  It is advisable to avoid swimming if your child has molluscum. 

Viral warts

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.  It commonly occurs on the hands and feet, but may infect other parts of the body.  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 one to two years if untreated.

Treatment

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 warts. 

 

Cryotherapy (freezing) with liquid Nitrogen

Warts that are frozen may develop a blister within one or two days. If a large blister develops, soak the skin in warm water and then gently prick the blister.

Salicyclic acid lotion or plaster

Wart lotions and plasters frequently turn the skin white. Every two or three 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.

Will my child grow out of warts?

Yes. In most children the wart virus evades the child’s immune system.  It may take one to two 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

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 infected skin.

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. 

Treatment

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

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.

Treatment

For children wearing diapers, frequent changes are recommended.  A suggested interval is every two to three hours and immediately after every bowel movement.

Antifungal creams

Your doctor will prescribe an antifungal cream to be used on the affected areas.  Antifungal creams may include nystatin, clotrimazole, miconazole, or ketoconazole. 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

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 one 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 soles. 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.

Last updated on 31 Oct 2016

Last updated on 31 Oct 2016