Common Hair, Skin and Nail Conditions that Affect Children

Skin, Hair and Nail Conditions that Affect Children

By Nnenna G. Agim, MD, Pediatric Dermatologist

As parents, we prioritize our children’s health and well-being, often focusing on their physical health through diet and exercise. However, it’s equally important to pay attention to their hair, skin, and nails, as these can show the first signs of underlying health issues. In this blog, we’ll explore the most common hair, skin, and nail conditions that affect children, along with their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Skin Conditions:
  1. Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis): Eczema is a prevalent skin condition affecting many children worldwide. It presents as red, itchy, and inflamed patches on the skin, often found behind the knees, inside the elbows, or on the face, hands, and feet. A combination of genetic and environmental factors contributes to eczema. Triggers include allergens, irritants, weather changes, and stress. Treatment includes moisturizing and protecting the skin barrier, avoiding irritants, and using prescribed topical and/or oral medications.
  2. Diaper Rash: Diaper rash is a type of skin irritation that commonly affects infants and toddlers in the diaper area. It occurs as a result of prolonged exposure to wetness, friction, and irritants from urine and feces trapped in diapers. To prevent diaper rash, regular diaper changes are essential to keep the area dry and clean. Applying diaper rash creams as a protective barrier can soothe the skin. Allowing the diaper area to air dry during diaper changes is another effective preventive measure. When choosing products for diaper care, look for options without fragrance, preservatives or dyes to minimize irritation.
  3. Contact Dermatitis: Contact dermatitis is a common skin condition caused by the skin’s reaction to irritants or allergens, such as certain soaps, detergents, fabrics, plants like poison ivy, or metals like nickel. When the skin comes into contact with these substances, it becomes inflamed, leading to symptoms like redness, itching, and sometimes even blistering. Managing contact dermatitis primarily revolves around avoiding the irritants or allergens that trigger the reaction. Identifying and eliminating contact with the specific substances irritating is crucial for preventing further flare-ups. Additionally, using soothing topical creams or ointments can help alleviate discomfort and promote healing of the affected skin. We offer patch testing to help identify allergens underlying this condition. People with atopic dermatitis (eczema) are more susceptible to allergic contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis, on the other hand, can happen to anyone.
  4. Warts: Warts are skin growths caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and can manifest on various parts of the body, including the hands, feet, and face. While most warts are benign and tend to go away on their own over time (months to years!), some may persist and require medical intervention for treatment. Cryotherapy, a procedure where the wart is frozen using liquid nitrogen, is a common medical option. Additionally, topical treatments, such as salicylic acid or other medications, can be used to help the body eliminate warts. Removing the visible bump may not clear the wart. The virus is more reliably eliminated by encouraging the body’s immune system to attack and destroy it. Seeking medical advice is essential, especially if the warts are painful, growing, spreading or causing distress to the child.
  5. Hives (Urticaria): Hives are a skin condition characterized by raised, itchy bumps that appear on the skin. They can vary in size and shape and may be red or skin colored. Hives are often triggered by allergic reactions to certain foods, medications, insect stings, or other allergens. In children, viral infections are a common cause. To provide relief from the itching and reduce the rash, antihistamines are commonly used. Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamines, alleviating the symptoms of hives, and providing comfort to the skin. If your child experiences hives, it’s important to identify and avoid the triggering cause and seek medical advice if the hives persist or worsen.
Hair Conditions:
  1. Head Lice (Pediculosis Capitis): Head lice are microscopic parasites that infest the scalp and hair, leading to intense itching and discomfort. They spread through direct head-to-head contact and can easily affect children in close contact settings like schools or daycare, or after a sleep-over. To treat head lice, lice shampoos or lotions specifically kill lice and their eggs. Carefully follow the instructions on these products and repeat the treatment if necessary, to ensure complete eradication. Educating children and parents about preventive measures can also play a crucial role in preventing the spread of head lice. Early detection and prompt treatment are key to managing head lice infestations effectively and reducing their impact on children’s well-being.
  2. Tinea Capitis (Ringworm of the Scalp): Tinea capitis, also known as ringworm of the scalp, is a fungal infection that affects the scalp and hair shafts, resulting in characteristic circular patches of hair loss and scaling. It may also present as scaling throughout the scalp or scalp swelling when severe. This condition is more common in children and can cause itching, hair loss and discomfort. To effectively treat tinea capitis, oral antifungal medications are effective in treating the infection. It is imperative to complete the full course of medication as prescribed by a healthcare professional to ensure complete eradication of the fungus and prevent the infection from spreading or recurring. If you suspect your child has tinea capitis or any other skin condition, seeking medical attention for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment is important for their overall health and well-being.
  3. Alopecia Areata: Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition causing patchy hair loss due to the immune system attacking hair follicles. involves countering the body’s autoimmune attack on the hair using a variety of medications such as topical or injected corticosteroids, oral prescriptions, or immunomodulatory therapies, in addition to options like minoxidil to stimulate hair regrowth. Seeking medical evaluation and personalized treatment is important for children with alopecia areata, considering the emotional impact of hair loss. Early intervention and appropriate treatment can enhance hair regrowth and help improve the overall well-being of the child.
  4. Dandruff (Seborrheic Dermatitis): Dandruff is a prevalent condition causing a flaky, itchy scalp leading to an overgrowth of yeast on the scalp and the body’s inflammatory reaction to this organism. It is common in infancy and again at puberty. To manage dandruff effectively, over-the-counter shampoos containing ingredients like zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole can treat the concern. These shampoos help to control yeast growth, reduce flaking, and alleviate itching. Regular use of these medicated shampoos can help keep dandruff under control and promote a healthier scalp. If dandruff persists or becomes severe, it is advisable to seek guidance from a dermatologist for further evaluation and personalized prescription-strength treatment options.
Nail Conditions:
  1. Ingrown Toenails: Ingrown toenails are a common and potentially painful condition that occur when the nail grows into the surrounding skin, causing pain, redness, and swelling. For mild cases, soaking the foot in warm, soapy water and gently lifting the ingrown nail can offer relief, along with applying antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. However, severe or recurrent cases may necessitate professional treatment, such as nail trimming or removal, antibiotics for infections, chemical or laser treatments, or even minor surgical procedures. Proper nail care, including cutting nails and wearing properly fitting shoes, is key to preventing ingrown toenails.
  2. Nail Fungus (Onychomycosis): Nail fungus causes thickened, discolored, and brittle nails, commonly affecting the toenails. Fungal organisms thriving in warm and moist environments cause the infection. Symptoms include changes in nail appearance, detachment from the nail bed, and brittleness. Antifungal medications help treat nail fungus. They can be either topical creams or oral medications for severe infections. Consistent treatment is the key! Nail fungus can be stubborn and may require weeks to months to clear the infection. To prevent nail fungus, keep your child’s feet dry and clean, wear moisture-wicking socks, and choose breathable footwear. Consulting a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis is essential for children to promote healthier nail growth and prevent further infection.
  3. Nail Biting (Onychophagia): Nail biting is a habit among children that involves biting on the nails and cuticles. While it may seem harmless, nail biting can have adverse effects on a child’s nail health and overall well-being. Constantly exposing the nails to the moisture and bacteria in the mouth can weaken the nails. This makes them more susceptible to breakage, splitting, and peeling. Moreover, bacteria from the mouth to the nails can increase the risk of infections of the nail bed. Breaking the habit of nail biting is important for optimal nail health and promoting healthier alternatives to manage stress. Encouraging positive coping mechanisms and providing gentle reminders can help children overcome nail-biting tendencies and maintain stronger, more resilient nails.
Call Us Today!

As parents, addressing common hair, skin, and nail conditions is a positive step towards overall health of children. If you notice concerning symptoms in your child’s skin, hair, or nails, consult a dermatologist for proper evaluation.

At North Dallas Dermatology Associates, we provide comprehensive and compassionate dermatological care for your family’s skin concerns. Our mission is to prioritize early detection and effective management of skin, hair and nail conditions to support your child’s physical and emotional well-being. We invite you to Schedule an appointment today and take the first step towards healthier skin for your child and your family.  


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North Dallas Dermatology Associates8144 Walnut Hill Lane Suite 1300
Dallas Texas 75231
Fax: (214) 420-7380

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Mon-Thurs: 8:00AM – 4:00PM
Friday: 8:00AM – 1:00PM

Free parking is available on the ground level of the parking garage directly attached to the BB&T bank.


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