Skin rash commonly seen among children in summer

By on July 31, 2012

The Japanese summer is usually very hot and humid, but there are many great outdoor activities. Matsuri and bon-odori, yukata and hanabi, dragonflies and cicadas, beaches and BBQs, mountains and hiking; these are the memories of a Japanese summer. As you enjoy the wonderful outdoors with your family, here are a few tips to help you keep a lookout for skin rashes and medical emergencies among the young ones.

Sunburn & Burn:  
Many parents are aware of sun protection and the use of sunscreen for their children, but sunburn may still occur if sunscreen was not properly applied or if the child spent long hours in the sun. Children with fair skin tend to burn more easily.

Symptoms of sunburn develop after 2-6 hours of sun exposure. If it is simply a mild redness and swelling of the skin, keep your child well-hydrated, cool the skin with a refreshing bath and apply a soothing moisturizer to the affected area. If blisters develop or if there is pain of the sunburned area, or your child develops a fever/chills, treatment should be sought as soon as possible.

Children may also get burned by hot charcoals or grills at BBQ sites. Again, if there is blistering, extreme redness, and pain of the burned skin, cool the affected skin area with ice or cold running water and seek medical attention early.

Insect Bites & Stings (e.g. mosquitoes, gnats, ticks, fleas, bees, wasps etc):
In children, insect bites may sometimes trigger a more intense reaction than just a red bump (welt). The skin may become very red, swollen, and sometimes blisters may form. Itching may become intense and the child may then scratch the skin, leading to open sores and secondary infections. Clean the skin with open sores or blistering with a disinfectant, apply an antiseptic ointment on it and dress the skin. Oral antihistamines may help reduce the itching. Bring your child to a doctor to have the skin examined for infection.

Bee & wasp stings are painful, and they can cause the skin to swell and turn red. However, if your child starts to show signs of breathing difficulty, with the face flushing and swelling up and an itchy rash spreading across the body, seek medical attention immediately. Your child is likely showing a severe allergic reaction (= anaphylaxis) to the sting. This usually occurs within minutes of a sting and it is a medical emergency.

Impetigo:  
This is a bacterial skin infection mostly caused by staphylococci. It may start at the site of an insect bite, or on an eczematous skin. The rash spreads very quickly with red bumps rapidly turning into red, oozing patches resembling scalded skin. Blistering and yellow crusts may also be seen. Impetigo is very contagious. Bring your child to be examined by a doctor. Very likely, your child would require treatment with oral and topical antibiotics. To prevent the spread of impetigo, family members should avoid sharing towels and the affected child should avoid contact with other children and be permitted to return to school only after the crusts have dried out.

This summer, remember to see the doctor when you encounter the 3Bs: Burns, Bites and Bacteria!  Have a great summer!

About Dr. Chin-Huai Keong

Dr. Chin-Huai Keong, director of Garden Clinic Hiroo, is a board-certified dermatologist with more than 20 years experience in the field. Dr. Keong has served the foreign community for many years and is familiar with the needs of the foreign patient. She offers consultations for adult & pediatric dermatology as well as cosmetic dermatology in English and Japanese. Dr. Keong may be contacted through her website at www.gardenclinic-hiroo.com or her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/gardenclinichiroo