Dermatology conditions

Illustration of a boy with a balloonWe treat every skin disorder that occurs in children. For information on specific conditions we recommend the British Association of Dermatologists’ website and the New Zealand Dermatology website. For children who are upset by their appearance because of a skin condition we recommend Changing Faces.

These are the conditions that we see most frequently:

Eczema

This is an intensely itchy skin condition, sometimes associated with asthma, hay fever and food allergies. Patients must use regular moisturising creams, and we advise on the use of steroid and other active creams. We have developed a brief teaching video for parents which is free to download. Some patients with severe eczema require immunosuppressive medicines. Information about eczema is available from The National Eczema Society. We also recommend these brief videos on emollients and topical steroids from the dermatologists at Guys and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.

Psoriasis

This is less common than eczema and sometimes runs in families. It causes red scaly patches on the skin and scalp. Information is available from The Psoriasis Association. We also recommend these brief videos on emollients and topical steroids from the dermatologists at Guys and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.

Skin infections

We regularly see children with common infections such as ringworm, scabies, warts, impetigo and head lice. But these conditions are usually managed by GPs and should be referred to hospital only if they don’t respond to standard treatments.

Hair loss

There are lots of causes of hair loss (alopecia), including fungal infection and an overactive immune system (alopecia areata). Information on alopecia is available from alopecia online which has an excellent website for children and young people. We have produced a storybook for children and young people, which is free to download.

Acne

Most teenagers get a few spots but sometimes they become a problem. The GP will prescribe creams, and maybe antibiotics which must be taken every day for at least three months. If after that the condition is still troublesome the GP may refer the patient to hospital, where we check why the treatment might not have worked and if necessary give something stronger.

Vitiligo

Vitiligo causes white patches on the skin. We don’t know exactly what causes it but it definitely is not catching and is not caused by anything in the diet. It is particularly distressing for children with brown or black skin, especially when it is on the face. Often it gets better by itself, but if not we can prescribe creams that may help. Some people feel happier with camouflage make-up to hide the patches until they go away, but most don’t bother. Information is available from the Vitiligo Society.

Birthmarks

Birthmarks are common and most people have one or more. There are many different types including common 'moles'. Mostly they don’t need to come to hospital, but they should be referred if the GP isn’t sure what it is, if it is growing or bleeding, if the child has other medical conditions which might be connected or if it is affecting everyday life. We can advise on whether or when it should be treated. Some vascular (red) birthmarks can be treated with medicine, cream or laser, but sometimes the only treatment option is plastic surgery. We don’t usually advise removal of a birthmark for cosmetic reasons unless it is a significant problem to the child.

Genetic skin conditions

There are literally hundreds of rare genetic conditions affecting the skin, and we can deal with any of them. Our department is recognised as having special expertise in this area, and our clinics are listed on the international rare diseases website, orphanet. A good source of information on genetic conditions (not just in the skin) is the Contact a Family website.

We give advice to several Patient Support Groups including: