• Anna Solana, science journalist

    Children: When Things Get Itchy

    Their skin is immature and more susceptible to aggression from the world around them, which makes it easier for them to get scratches, rashes and infections. They run, jump, play and sometimes get hurt. Their skin breaks out, they scratch it and don't want to apply cream. But it seems like everything they get eventually goes away and they go back to normal. But children's skin also needs basic care.


    Once they get past the nappy rashes and unexplained red patches of their baby years that finally disappear with patience and the application of moisturizer and repair cream, it seems like the only thing to worry about to keep a child's skin healthy is daily hygiene and sunscreen. You might also remember to cut out the labels from their clothing, since they are usually made of scratchy, synthetic material.


    In general, everything will go smoothly if you're careful about using a mild shower gel and shampoo with a neutral pH that meets European Union safety criteria, as well as a body milk with simple active ingredients such as urea, glycerol and lactic acid. No matter how neutral your soap is, it will tend to dry out the skin, so it’s essential to moisturize the skin after cleaning.


    Applying cologne as a final touch is not essential, but if you do, it should always be applied to clothing and not on the skin or hair. On the other hand, sunscreen should never be forgotten when children go outdoors because the skin has a memory of negative sun exposure events. Once again, it's best to buy special products for children that don't contain irritating agents.


    It itches!

    Despite all the basic precautions, it's still inevitable at one time or another for children to get rashes and red patches, with or without bumps and blisters, and for them to become infected if scratched, which is also nearly inevitable because they itch so much! Relief can come from emollient products that repair the skin's barrier function. In some cases, these sores can reappear at times of stress, at extreme temperatures or when associated with bacterial infections.


    Now it's time to talk about atopic dermatitis, a disorder with a hereditary component that can last into the teens and even adulthood. It's the paediatrician's job to determine the appropriate treatment in each case. Some professionals prescribe antihistamines, steroid creams, antibiotics and topical immunomodulators (TIMs).


    Meanwhile, mothers keep applying the moisturizer they've always used, based on the recommendation of other mothers. Dermatitis is incredibly annoying, but it gets better with age. In fact, only 20% of children over age 7 continue to show symptoms.


    Wash your hands

    However, it's still important to check on the development of this disorder because children with dermatitis can also develop impetigo, a highly contagious infection that causes blisters to form around the nose and mouth and requires treatment with local antibiotics or topical antiseptics and good hygiene standards.


    In other words, it's important for children to get used to washing their hands before eating, when they come in from outdoors and before going to bed, and to keep their fingernails short and clean.


    Molluscum contagiosum

    Another typical skin infection in infants is Molluscum contagiosum, a virus that causes small wart-like bumps to appear on different parts of the body. These bumps don't hurt and aren't important.


    In fact, in most cases, the sores go away naturally after six or seven months. But other treatment options are available that can speed up the cure, such as applying topical drugs and surgically removing the sores.