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Skin Conditions in Childhood

What is cradle cap?

Cradle cap (also called seborrheic dermatitis) is a rash that begins as scaling and redness on a baby’s scalp. This condition is a non-infectious skin condition and is a form of eczema. Seborrheic dermatitis is common in infants, usually beginning in the first weeks of life and slowly disappearing over a period of weeks or months. The condition rarely is uncomfortable or itchy.

What causes cradle cap?

The precise cause of the rash is not known. However, pityrosporum ovale (a yeast) is believed to play a role in this condition.

How is cradle cap treated?

Mild cases of cradle cap can be treated with mild shampoo. Do not be concerned about shampooing the hair. You should wash the hair (with a mild baby shampoo) more frequently than before. This, along with soft brushing, will help remove the scales. Medicated shampoos (anti-seborrhea shampoos containing sulfur and 2 percent salicylic acid) might loosen the scales, but these shampoos can cause irritation and should be used only after consulting a pediatrician. Additional medicines, such as topical steroids or antifungal creams, might be prescribed to treat the scales and redness.

How can cradle cap be prevented?

In most cases, frequent shampooing with a mild baby shampoo can prevent cradle cap from coming back once it has been cleared up. A stronger medicated shampoo might be needed in some cases, but seek the advice of your doctor regarding the use of these shampoos. Most children outgrow cradle cap by the time they are 1 year old.

What is roseola?

Roseola is a viral illness that usually affects children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. It is typically marked by several days of high fever, followed by a pinkish-red flat or raised rash that appears on the child's trunk and spreads over the body just as the fever breaks.

What causes roseola?

Roseola can be caused by two common and closely related viruses: human herpesvirus (HHV) type 6 and type 7. These two viruses belong to the same family as the herpes simplex viruses. However, HHV-6 and HHV-7 do not cause the cold sores and genital herpes infections that HSV can cause. Roseola is contagious and spreads through tiny drops of fluid from the nose and throat of infected people. Someone who has not yet developed symptoms often spreads the infection.

What are the symptoms of roseola?

In most cases, a child with roseola develops a mild upper-respiratory illness, followed by a high fever (often higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit) for three to seven days. The child might be fussy or irritable during this time, might have a weak appetite, and might have swollen glands (lymph nodes) in the neck.

In many cases, the high fever abruptly stops and a rash appears on the child’s body at about the same time. The rash is made up of flat or raised pinkish-red spots and appears on the torso. The spots turn white when touched. Individual spots might have lighter areas or "halos" around them. Usually, the rash spreads to the face, legs, arms, and neck.

How is roseola diagnosed?

To diagnose roseola, a doctor will take a history and do a thorough physical exam. A diagnosis of roseola is often uncertain until the fever goes down and a rash appears. As a result, the doctor might order tests to make sure that the fever is not caused by another type of infection.

How is roseola treated?

In most cases, roseola does not require professional treatment. Antibiotics cannot treat roseola because it is caused by a virus. In cases when it is necessary, most treatment is aimed at reducing the high fever.

Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (such as Advil® or Motrin®) can help to reduce your child's fever. Avoid giving aspirin to a child who has a viral illness because the use of aspirin in such cases has been associated with the development of Reye syndrome, which can lead to liver failure. A sponge or towel soaked in lukewarm water might help keep the child until the fever drops. Ice, cold water, alcohol rubs, cold baths, and fans should be avoided.

Encourage your child to drink clear fluids such as water with ice chips, children's electrolyte solutions, flat sodas like ginger ale (stir room-temperature soda until the fizz disappears), or clear broth. Fluids decrease the risk of dehydration.

Call your child’s doctor if the child is lethargic or not drinking, or if you cannot keep your child's fever down. Seek emergency care immediately if your child has a seizure.

Can roseola be prevented?

There is no known way to prevent the spread of roseola. The infection usually affects young children but rarely adults. Therefore, it is thought that exposure to roseola in childhood might provide some lasting immunity to the illness. Repeat cases of roseola might occur, but they are not common.

What is fifth disease?

Fifth disease a highly contagious condition caused by human parvovirus. The condition results in a facial rash that looks like the cheeks have been slapped. Fifth disease usually affects school-aged children.

What causes fifth disease?

The disease is caused by the human parvovirus. The condition is transmitted by sneezing or coughing. The disease is only infective before the rash appears.

What are the symptoms of fifth disease?

Symptoms of fifth disease include

  • Flu- and cold-like symptoms such as coughing, running nose, fever, generalized aches and pains in joints and muscles, loss of appetite, and irritability
  • A cheek rash that looks as if the face has been slapped (The rash is not painful but is warm to the touch.)
  • Spreading of the rash to the thighs and arms

How is fifth disease diagnosed?

In most cases, a doctor can diagnose fifth disease by seeing the typical rash during a physical exam. In cases in which it is important to confirm the diagnosis, a blood test might be done to look for antibodies to parvovirus.

How is fifth disease treated?

There is no treatment for the disease itself, but medicines such as Tylenol® or Advil® can treat the symptoms. Individuals who have fifth disease should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

References

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 6/29/2011…#12177