Children often itch their skin and it can be something very minor or represent a dermatological condition that needs treating. Itching is usually treatable and when treated, does not lead to a significant problem. However, you should take your child to see a dermatologist in order to diagnose the cause of your child’s itch when;it does not go away quickly
- if you do not know what has been causing it
- if it is severe
- if your child is getting other symptoms as well
When verifying the cause of itching skin in a child, the first step for the dermatologist is to identify the primary skin that are being itched, called the primary lesion. The shape, pattern, location of skin eruptions, and any secondary lesions will also help establish a cause.
These are common causes of skin itching in children:
Urticaria describes a group of conditions in which hives or swelling develop in the skin. It is very common in children and can be very itchy and the skin may have a burning sensation! A hive is a superficial swelling that is typically skin coloured or pale. It is frequently surrounded by an area of superficial skin reddening, usually in patches, and lasts for a few minutes to 24 hours.
Who is at risk of urticaria?
Approximately 15% of all children under ten years old will have at least one episode of acute urticaria. However, if a child has asthma, dermatitis, and allergies, this risk is around 20%. The probability is slightly higher for girls than for boys. It is a form of allergy.
How is urticaria in children treated?
A non-sedating antihistamine syrup or tablets are used to treat urticaria in children. This is not curative but often controls the itch and the spread of hives until the urticaria settles on its own. If a child is unresponsive to antihistamines, oral prednisone may be administered for a couple of days. Children are advised to avoid trigger factors, such as any food or drug causing allergy, as well as extreme hot and cold temperatures. If there is a life-threatening allergic reaction, an intramuscular injection of adrenaline is advised.
One of the causes of itching in children is atopic dermatitis which is a common genetically determined condition. Atopic dermatitis causes the skin to itch, become dry and cracked and affects both children and young adults. Typically, the child presents facial lesions at 4 to 6 months of age. There may be undefined patchy eczema where the skin flexes – elbows, behind the knees and in front of the neck. Although it’s a common form of eczema, it’s also serious and long-lived. Active treatment is advised. When your child has atopic dermatitis, it may improve at times; but it may get worse at other times. Symptoms may taper off as the child grows up, while others will have atopic dermatitis flares into adulthood. Atopic dermatitis can also occur on their eyelids.
How can I manage my child’s Atopic Dermatitis?
To manage your child’s atopic dermatitis, your child should:
- Avoid their triggers (wool, lanolin, washing chemicals, some soaps, perfumes etc)
- Continue a regular bathing and moisturizing routine to protect and strengthen the skin barrier
- Ensure your child gets high-quality sleep
- Is eating a healthy diet.
If these methods don’t work, other treatments offered by our dermatologists include:
- Topical corticosteroids
- Non-steroidal topicals
- Biologics (a powerful drug that slows or stops damaging inflammation)
A small red bump is usually caused by an insect bite. Often, it looks like one large one or several small ones. A small water blister may occur in the centre of the bump. This is common in younger children. Itchy insect bites from mosquitoes, fleas, and bedbugs usually cause itchy, red bumps. The cause of the bumps is the body’s inflammatory reaction to the insect’s saliva.
Treatment for insect bites
Insect bites can be challenging to treat because it is often impossible to identify the biting insect, making only general management measures possible. Attention to the possibility of infected pets is needed to prevent re-infection. Antihistamine cream or steroid antibiotic cream can help reduce itchy symptoms and prevent infection caused by scratching the itching insect bite.
When to seek medical attention for an insect bite
- Past life-threatening allergic reaction to the insect bite
- Trouble breathing or wheezing
- Hoarse voice, cough, or tightness in the throat or chest
- Trouble swallowing, drooling or slurred speech
- Hard to wake up
- Acts or talks confused
- Your child has a life-threatening emergency.
Scabies is a skin problem caused by microscopic mites. The mites burrow into the skin and leave their faeces. Female mites lay eggs in little holes they make, which causes small itchy bumps and blisters. Scabies is easily transmitted by skin-to-skin contact as it is contagious. It is usually spread by contact within families and between friends.
What Are the Symptoms of Scabies?
The usual symptom of scabies is itching. Other symptoms of scabies include:
- burrow tracks
- bumps or blisters
- thickened, scaly, scratched and scabbed skin
- irritability and poor feeding in young children.
Scabies can be seen on any part of the body. However, it is frequently on:
- the hands and feet
- the folds under the arms and the inner part of the wrists
- waistline and private area
- head and scalp of infants.
When your child sees the dermatologist they will take a careful history, examine your child´s skin, often with a dermatoscope. Sometimes they have to do blood tests, check your child´s thyroid function and even do allergy skin tests to help establish the diagnosis. Skin tests nowadays are highly sophisticated and can detect about 30 or 40 different substances common in daily living that cause itching skin.
Rarely, our dermatologists may need to scrape or biopsy the skin if they suspect there may have been an infective cause or a tumour cause.
Once the condition is clearly identified, they will then advise the best medical treatment for your child´s itchy skin.
Book an appointment with one of Clinica’s Dermatologists if you observe any changes to your child’s skin that concern you. Our dermatologists will investigate their skin changes to establish a cause and start treatment.