skin allergies in kids

Common Skin Allergies in Kids (and How to Treat Them)

While you may think of allergies causing your children to sneeze and have itchy eyes, allergies in kids can also affect the skin. Skin allergies are actually the most common type of allergies in kids and are more prevalent in younger children. 

What are the Different Types of Skin Conditions Related to Skin Allergies in Kids?

There are several forms of skin conditions that can alert you to skin allergies in kids. Common skin conditions in kids related to allergies can manifest as eczema, an allergic rash, or hives and swelling. Eczema can be found in at least 10% of children around the world. Your child is more likely to have eczema if they have asthma, food allergies, or have a fever. It is often found on a child’s face or head, as well as the arms and torso. With eczema, a child’s skin is often itchy, dry, and easily irritated.

An allergic rash, also known as allergic contact dermatitis, occurs when your child’s skin comes into contact with something they are sensitive to. This rash will appear immediately following contact with the allergen. Some people become sensitized to an allergen, such as poison ivy, after one exposure, while other allergens may require repeated exposures before it causes a reaction.

Hives and swelling occur following some type of trigger. Hives can occur for a few minutes or hours and even up to a few days. While hives are not dangerous, if your child has swelling that affects their breathing, throat, or tongue, seek emergency medical help immediately.

What are the Most Common Skin Allergies in Kids?

While there are many common skin allergies in kids, the most common allergens are: latex, dust mites, and animal dander. Eczema can be triggered by sweating, rough fabrics, and certain soaps and detergents. Contact dermatitis can be triggered by nickel, plants, cosmetics, and medicines, as well as chemicals and dyes in clothing. Latex and pet saliva or dander can cause hives to occur.

What Does an Allergic Reaction Look Like in Children?

While many of the skin allergies in kids cause similar reactions, there are some differences to note. Eczema can often be identified by skin that is dry, itchy, and easily irritated. Other eczema symptoms include a red rash and thick, leathery patches that occur from frequent scratching and rubbing. These patches often appear on the cheeks, skin creases, neck, and trunk. Scratching can also lead to damaged skin that leads to more itching, as well as infections from open wounds.

Contact dermatitis can be identified by severe itching, red skin, or a rash that occurs after exposure to specific allergens. Thick, leathery patches of skin can develop over time if not treated properly. Other symptoms include a rash that is bleeding, oozing, draining, crusting, or blistering. The most affected area will be the area with the most contact with the allergen.

While eczema and contact dermatitis have similar symptoms, you can rule out one or the other based on how often the symptoms occur. If they occur after contact with the same thing over and over, it is more likely to be contact dermatitis. If it occurs randomly or after exposure to the heat, it may be eczema. It is best to schedule an appointment with your dermatologist to accurately identify the cause of a rash.

Three hives symptoms that are easy to identify include red welts, angioedema/swelling, and itching. Red welts are the most common symptom. However, angioedema/swelling can occur in addition to welts. These areas may feel warm to the touch. You may also experience an itching and stinging sensation with the areas of skin that are affected by welts or swelling.

How Do You Treat Skin Allergies?

There are many treatments for skin allergies in kids, including home remedies or prescribed treatments from a pediatric dermatology office. Most eczema treatments will consist of at-home remedies. One of these remedies, moisturizing the skin, also acts as a preventative measure. Keep your skin moisturized by applying moisturizer immediately after showering or washing your hands. Using lukewarm water, rather than hot water, can also help keep skin moisturized. Other aspects of at-home eczema treatment includes using a humidifier and using mild skin products on your child.

Over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines and pain relievers, are often used to treat ecezma. Your pediatric dermatologist may also prescribe topical or oral medication, such as a topical steroid cream, to help treat eczema. This cream reduces inflammation and itchiness, allowing the area to heal.

Treatment for contact dermatitis will vary depending on the severity and cause of the rash. The first aspect of treatment is to wash your child’s skin with soap and water. Wash all of your child’s skin, not just the affected area. Applying cold compresses to the area will also help to relieve the symptoms. 

To lessen the itching due to contact dermatitis, apply corticosteroid cream or ointment to the affected area, as well as the skin surrounding the affected area. If your child’s reaction to the allergen is severe, contact your healthcare provider. They can prescribe corticosteroid pills or liquids to alleviate more severe symptoms.

Hives treatment ranges from letting the hives run their course to prescriptions to alleviate itching and swelling. Medications prescribed to aid with itching and swelling include dapsone, omalizumab, and corticosteroids. Additional medications are prescribed if hives last longer than six weeks. While waiting for medications to take effect, you can have your child sleep in a cool room and wear loose clothing.

A Pediatric Dermatologist Can Help

Our pediatric dermatologist, Dr, Elizabeth Froelich, is one of the few pediatric skin specialists in the Pittsburgh area. She is board-certified in pediatric and general dermatology. If you’re seeking treatment or diagnosis for skin allergies in kids, you can contact our office to schedule an appointment. 

Vujevich Dermatology Associates offers medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology from some of the most highly trained physicians and clinicians in the greater Pittsburgh area.  You can reach our team at 412-429-2570 or visit our contact page to see all of our locations. You can also follow us on Facebook to see what’s new in the world of dermatology. 

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