Bryn Mawr Dermatology

Villanova, PA | Collegeville, PA
Chesterbrook, PA

Pediatric Dermatology: 10 Common Skin Conditions in Children


Did you know that 70.24% of patients that present with skin diseases are children aged 0-5 years? Dermatologists see all kinds of skin conditions in their practices. Some are more common than others, and pediatric dermatology experts see unique issues when working with children. This article will discuss the 10 most common skin conditions in children and how to manage them.

While this article spells out some important information about pediatric dermatology, we highly recommend you read the full article, here are the key points we will focus on:

Table of Contents

What is Pediatric Dermatology?

 Pediatric dermatology is a subspecialty of dermatology that investigates, prevents, and treats skin conditions that occur in children. According to a study of school-aged children aged 5–14 years,  90.2% had at least one skin disease.

 Any parent will tell you that their kids’ skin is different from their own — it’s innately sensitive, susceptible to rashes, irritation, eczema, and inflammation. Due to hormonal fluctuations and growth spurts during ages 8-12, and then puberty around 13-15, a child’s skin struggles with moisture control, and can often be painfully dry or excessively oily. During those teen years, pediatric skin is particularly prone to acne breakouts. Less commonly, but still of note, pediatric skin can be affected by vitiligo (a pigment disorder), irregular moles, and viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Fortunately, most skin problems are minor annoyances that clear up on their own within a few weeks as their bodies regulate.

At Bryn Mawr Dermatology, we routinely diagnose and treat children with these conditions, knowing that it can take a bit of extra patience and poise to put each patient (and thier parents) at ease.

Main Symptoms of Skin Conditions in Children

Skin conditions in children vary widely depending on the cause. It’s important to note that not all skin problems result from a skin disorder. Here are some typical symptoms of skin conditions in children:

  • Red or white raised bumps. They commonly result from infections or allergic reactions.
  • Painful or itchy rash. Irritated or swollen patches of skin on the body that last longer than 24 hours.
  • Scaly or rough skin. Textural changes can be due to dryness, inflammation, or an accumulation of unshed skin cells.
  • Discolored skin patches. Post-infection skin pigmentation is common in children.
  • Changes in mole color or size. If a mole changes in size or color, it warrants an appointment with a pediatric dermatologist.
  • Excessive flushing. Flushing of the skin is transient redness of the skin without an apparent cause. Consult a pediatric dermatologist in case of recurring flushing.
  • Cracked skin. It commonly occurs as a result of dry skin.
  • Sores or ulcers. This refers to areas of skin where the protective barrier has been damaged.

Main Causes of Skin Conditions in Children

Skin conditions in children may have various causes. Some of the most common skin conditions in children include rashes, hives, and warts. These may be caused by:

  • Dermatitis (generic term for irritation of the skin)
  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections

10 Most Common Skin Conditions in Children

Skin conditions in children can be an ordeal to manage, simply because it is difficult for the patient to express themselves. In this article we discuss 10 common skin conditions that occur in children.

1. Verruca Vulgaris (a.k.a. warts)

Although people of any age can contract this virus, it is particularly prevalent in children because a child’s immune system is not yet fully developed. Warts are spread through direct contact, from person to person, and are the second most common dermatological complaint in children (right behind acne). The growths usually do not hurt or itch but can be unsightly and continue to enlarge if not treated.

2. Eczema

Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is common in infants and children with family members who have allergies. Eczema presents as itchy, red, scaly patches that often do not resolve on their own. If your skin is sensitive or young, or you live in a particularly dry climate, you may be more susceptible to developing this rash. It is most commonly found on the hands, feet, knees, elbows, face and behind the ears. While it is not clear exactly what causes eczema, research suggests that it is related to a person’s unique sensitivities and genetic predisposition.

3. Acne

Acne is the most common skin condition in American teens, and has been since the 1940s. Studies suggest that nearly 80% of adolescents have acne at some point. Acne is often triggered by hormones that prompt oil glands in the skin to make more sebum. Although it is often considered more of a nuisance than a medical condition, if acne breakouts are persistent or severe, they can lead to permanent scarring and should not be left untreated.

4. Cradle Cap

Cradle cap is one type of seborrheic dermatitis that can occur in infants. It appears as scaly, yellowish patches on the scalp, and usually goes away on its own within a few months. However, cradle cap can be treated with medicated shampoos if it is severe or does not resolve on its own.

5. Diaper Rash

Diaper rash is a condition that no infant or parent wants to deal with. This tender, irritating rash that develops due to chronically damp skin, can make your baby uncomfortable and cranky. Although diaper rash is usually treatable at home, in persistent cases, or if open wounds form, you should call your child’s doctor.

6. Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

This condition is caused by a type of virus that commonly infects kids under five years old. It causes painful, red, blister-like lesions to develop on the hands, feet, and/or inside the mouth. In addition to skin symptoms, this illness can be accompanied by fever, sore throat, and loss of appetite. Contact your doctor if symptoms do not resolve within a few days, or pain in the throat deters your child from eating and drinking.

7. Psoriasis

This condition affects an estimated 8 million people in the U.S. and shows up as silvery, scaly patches on elbows and knees, but can also affect the scalp, hands, and other body parts. It is caused by a buildup of excess skin cells that are not sloughed off at a regular rate, and can be itchy and embarrassing. Of all the people that develop psoriasis in their lifetime, 40% of them start having symptoms before they turn 16.

8. Tinea Versicolor

This fungus commonly shows up as scaly patches of discoloration on the chest, back, neck, and hands. Some people may also see patches on their faces and upper arms. Common treatments include topical creams and shampoos.

9. Impetigo

This highly contagious bacterial infection is commonly seen in infants and young children. It usually starts as red, irregularly shaped sores that form around the nose and mouth, or the hands and feet. The sores will proceed to ooze and develop a honey-colored crust, but symptoms like pain and itching are usually very minimal. Because impetigo is caused by bacteria it is treatable by topical or oral antibiotics.

10. Molluscum Contagiosum

This virus causes an unpleasant but painless skin rash consisting of small, raised, warty bumps. The lesions are pinkish-white in color with indentations in the center, and typically form on the torso, buttocks, arms, and legs. Although not hazardous to your child’s health the bumps can take months, or even years to resolve if left untreated. A Bryn Mawr Dermatologist can evaluate your concerns and provide a tailored management plan suited to your needs. 

When Should Children Go to a Dermatologist?

Most childhood skin conditions are harmless and are likely to go away on their own. However, there are some skin conditions that warrant a doctor’s visit, preferably an skin expert in pediatric dermatology.

  • Allergic conditions that continue to recur or worsen
  • Autoimmune conditions such as psoriasis
  • Contagious skin conditions such as impetigo and molluscum contagiosum
  • Pigmented marks that are changing in color, shape or size (moles, freckles, other growths)
  • Eczema that continues to spread or is not controllable with OTC medications
  • Open skin (sores, cuts, or abrasions) that are not healing as expected

If your child has any of the above conditions, the experts at Bryn Mawr provide individualized treatment to meet the patient’s unique needs and challenges.

Why Choose Bryn Mawr for Pediatric Dermatology?

Bryn Mawr Dermatology is committed to providing the highest level of patient-focused care, pursuing cutting edge medical technology and procedures. We have Board-Certified dermatologists who have extensive experience treating pediatric patients, and who are all mother’s themselves. We are proud to provide the latest advances in skin care to patients of all ages, resulting in more accurate diagnoses and better treatment of conditions that affect one’s skin, hair and nails; sun protection and skin cancer prevention.

When it comes to skin conditions in children, it’s best to talk to a skincare expert specialized in pediatric dermatology. Book an appointment at Bryn Mawr Dermatology where care providers put empathy at the core of their practice.

Related Content

Bryn Mawr Dermatology

Content Review Committee at Bryn Mawr Dermatology

Led by Board Certified Dermatologist, Christine Stanko, MD, FAAD, Bryn Mawr Dermatology incorporates a patient-focused outlook in every decision since we first opened our doors on the Main Line in 2005.

By: Bryn Mawr Dermatology, Published: July 27, 2022
Medically Reviewed By: Christine Stanko, MD, FAAD – June 25, 2024

Your Skin is Our Business.



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