According to the American Academy of Dermatology, many childhood skin infections are on the rise and can cause serious health problems in youngsters if they are not diagnosed and treated quickly and properly.

“While most of us are likely to provide quick and comprehensive treatment to a child who’s developed a fever or a stomach bug, there is a temptation to think of skin infections as superficial conditions that will clear up on their own in time,” says Joshua Fox, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. “While this is indeed sometimes the case, the vast majority of skin infections do require treatment in order to lessen the discomfort or side effects this may cause, reduce the chance of giving the infection to others, and eliminate the possibility of the infection spreading to internal organs and causing more serious health issues.”

According to Fox, common skin infections, including ringworm, molluscum contagiosum, warts, and impetigo, affect 10% to 15% of school-aged children each year. In addition, herpes—a diagnosis that often surprises many parents—is also becoming more prevalent among children today.

“Part of the reason that skin infections are becoming more common is that the environments in which these organisms thrive are the very places where children go every day,” says Fox.

Fox warns that warm, damp places such as locker rooms and shower stalls are prime breeding grounds for fungi, viruses, and bacteria. Even sharing common desks and classroom materials in school, hairbrushes, towels, practice jerseys, and equipment during sports activities can pass infections easily between children.

Fox recommends that children never share towels or equipment, and always wash thoroughly before and after swimming and other sports.

[healthnewsdigest.com, November 13, 2006]