Global Health Asia-Pacific March 2022 March 2022 - Page 11

Q

: What are the most common skin allergies you see in children and what are their symptoms ?

A

: The most common skin allergies I often encounter in the clinic are eczema , contact dermatitis , and hives . They often cause the skin to be very itchy and are disturbing to the child and the family . With a thorough medical history taking and careful physical examination , a doctor can usually differentiate these conditions and treat them accordingly . Photos of past rashes can be very helpful in the doctor ’ s diagnostic process .

Q

: What are the major causes of skin allergies and what can parents do to prevent their children from getting them ?

A

: Skin allergies in children , such as contact dermatitis , are commonly caused by irritating compounds in cleansers or creams applied on their body . However , for eczema , the contributing factors can be multiple and complex . Basically , genetic factors can play a big role , while sometimes environmental allergens , like hot weather or house dust mites , can also trigger eczema . In very young children , occasionally food allergies can worsen eczema .
For hives in children , infections are often the cause of this “ skin allergy ”, though sometimes it can be caused by insect bites , drugs , or food as well .

Q

: Should parents always consult a paediatrician when their children have a skin allergy or can they treat minor problems themselves ?

A

: Well , first of all , the need to see a doctor depends on how severe the condition is . Definitely when a child has a skin rash , one might not know whether it could be a sign of severe infection , so always seek medical attention to be safe . However , if this is something already diagnosed and recurring , especially if the parents are told by the child ’ s doctor what to do about it , go ahead and treat at home first and observe closely . The doctor might have prescribed oral antihistamine , some topical soothing moisturiser , or anti-inflammatory cream . Always remember to watch out if the child shows warning signs like fever , lethargy , widespread rashes , poor oral intake , or vomiting .

Q

: What are the most effective treatments for common skin allergies like eczema , contact dermatitis , and hives ?

A

: Across the board , oral antihistamines are helpful in relieving the itch from allergic skin conditions , though not totally .
Importantly , if there is a trigger or even triggers , these have to be avoided . Sometimes an allergy test can be done to try to confirm the suspicious allergens , for example a blood allergy test , a skin prick test , or a skin patch test . In a young child suspected of food allergy , a carefully documented food diary can be helpful in narrowing down the possible allergens .
A good and suitable moisturiser is also vital in treating skin allergies as it will help sooth the skin and repair the skin barrier . This is especially true in eczema and contact dermatitis .
For faster and better improvement , a topical antiinflammatory cream is usually prescribed , which can be a steroidal or nonsteroidal cream , depending on the skin condition , age group , and location of the skin lesion .
So the effective treatment of skin allergies is always a combination of the above steps .
Dr Heah Sheau Szu
Dr Heah Sheau Szu is a paediatric dermatologist at Sunway Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur .
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com MARCH 2022
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