Understanding skin disorders in children
Dr Vikas Sharma
HE largest organ system, the skin, undergoes dramatic visible changes in both the males and females right from birth till the resumption of sexual development at puberty and the transition to adulthood.

Having frequent stools? It may be ulcerative colitis
Dr Harsh Sharma
F the various chronic diseases that affect the gastrointestinal system, ulcerative colitis is quite common, causing a lot of discomfort to the patients. It is an inflammatory bowel disease and affects the lining of the large intestine or the colon and the rectum.



Understanding skin disorders in children
Dr Vikas Sharma

THE largest organ system, the skin, undergoes dramatic visible changes in both the males and females right from birth till the resumption of sexual development at puberty and the transition to adulthood.

Skin disorders seen in children in part reflect these physiological changes, but many of the most troublesome skin problems encountered result from intrinsic genetic abnormalities conditioned by environmental influences. A child's skin is much thinner and fragile than an adult's, thus requiring the need for extra care, early diagnosis and specific treatment.

Babies can develop many types of skin conditions shortly after they are born. A lot of these conditions last only a short time and go away. Others, however, are birthmarks that may not be visible at birth but will stay with babies throughout their lives.

The most common skin conditions encountered in new-born babies are the following:


Desquamation or skin peeling is something that affects a lot of babies in the first few days of life. It worries the parents, but medically the skin change is completely normal.

Cradle cap

This is a crusty greasy scalp rash that commonly occurs in the newborn and slightly older babies. It happens when there is a build-up of sebum (an oily substance produced by glands in the skin) that, in turn, makes skin cells stick together instead of shedding normally. It can occur on the scalp alone or with a diaper, neck, or underarm rash.


These are small white bumps on the baby's face. They look like whiteheads, but they are small cysts filled with sebum and keratin (a type of protein that makes up the outer layer of the skin as well as a person's hair and nails).


It has many different appearances: one could find tiny red bumps or little blisters filled with fluid or pus, usually on the baby's chest or back, underarms or neck. It happens when sweat ducts on the skin become blocked. It sometimes appears after intense heat or if the baby is too bundled up. So, the key is to avoid too many and occlusive clothes.

Newborn acne

This is a very common rash for babies. It occurs mostly on the nose and the forehead and looks like pimples or blackheads. Newborn acne is thought to happen when either the mother's or the baby's hormones cause the baby's glands to produce more sebum.

Erythema toxicum

Erythema toxicum occurs in the first three to five days after birth. It is a rash of small red dots (although some can have a central white dot) that usually appears on the chest, back, face, and arms. This is a normal reaction in babies' skin and it goes away in a few days.

Transient pustular melanosis

Transient pustular melanosis is a type of rash that is more common in darker skinned babies. It appears from birth as tiny white raised bumps on a baby's neck, chest, back, or buttocks. The bumps will go away on their own, but sometimes they leave slightly darker marks on the skin.


Many babies are born with birthmarks, some of which can be worrying for parents. Some birthmarks disappear over time while others remain with the child for life.

Nail care

Babies play with their hands and can scratch themselves with their nails, even if they are extremely thin and tiny.

As babies' nails grow faster than adult nails, one will need to trim them every one or two weeks but keeping care of ultra-fragile skin around the nails while trimming.

The spectrum of skin disorders rises as the child becomes more mobile, thus becoming more exposed to potential disease-triggering antigens.

School years bring exposure to a wide variety of infectious and contagious conditions such as measles, chickenpox, impetigo, warts, molluscum contagiosum, scabies, fungal infections and head lice. There is also a gradual increase in contact with potential irritants: at school during lessons in sporting activities such as swimming and team games.

Furthermore, it is well known that a severe skin disease of any kind in childhood can have a considerable impact on general physical development. Atopic eczema is a good example, short stature being very common in severely affected individuals.

Skin diseases in school-going children are encountered more frequently and their characterisation is essential as certain not so visible but highly infectious conditions can spread rapidly like viral skin infections and fungal infections. The inflammatory fungal infections of scalp and hair can lead to permanent irreversible bald patches. Thus, early detection of such cases is of utmost importance. At the same time, children with certain markedly visible skin disorders like vitiligo, psoriasis, alopecia areata, eczemas and some genetic disorders are subjected to unnecessary isolation and social boycott in spite of them being non-infectious, thus affecting their mental state and development.

Premature puberty

Signs of puberty before the age of 10 years are generally held to be abnormal. These are reflected on the skin in the form of early appearance of facial, axillary or pubic hair. This may result from an early onset of complete (or true) puberty, in which the changes are triggered by early glandular activation. The early detection and treatment of this condition is very important.

The writer is Chief Consultant Dermatologist, National Skin Hospital, Mansa Devi Complex, Panchkula..


Having frequent stools? It may be ulcerative colitis
Dr Harsh Sharma

OF the various chronic diseases that affect the gastrointestinal system, ulcerative colitis is quite common, causing a lot of discomfort to the patients. It is an inflammatory bowel disease and affects the lining of the large intestine or the colon and the rectum.

It affects the young more than the elderly, more so among the age group of 15-35 years, though the reasons for this higher incidence in this particular age group are not understood properly. Higher incidence is also found in the age group of 50-70. As the name suggests, the disease involves the ulceration of the intestines. Large parts of the intestine get ulcers, which may be superficial or deep depending upon the severity of the disease. The disease may begin in the rectum and involve the entire large intestine over a period of time. In some patients, both the rectum and the large intestine are involved simultaneously.

Causes: No known causes of the disease have been identified till now by medical science though stress has been found to be a contributory factor. The chances of its incidence in a person are likely to be higher if a family member has the same trouble. The immune system of the body has an important role to play in this and all factors that disturb the immunity of the body can cause an aggravation or even incidence of ulcerative colitis.

Symptoms: The patient has frequent stools throughout the day, more so after eating or drinking something. There is bleeding in the stool, and mucous may also be present. Pain in the abdomen, often crampy in character, is a frequent accompaniment and urge for stool almost always succeeds the pain. The stool is semi-solid-to-watery and may even contain undigested food particles. Over a period of time, the patient loses water and electrolytes due to frequent stools, leading to a loss of weight, anaemia and dehydration. The eyes get sunken. Prolonged fever may also be present.

Do’s and dont’s: While it may be difficult to pinpoint the cause of the disease, certain things have been known to aggravate the condition and must be avoided. Smoking and alcohol are known to make things worse for patients and should be avoided. Eating heavy meals, fried foods and too much fat is also not tolerated. It is better to eat small meals at short intervals. Dairy products have also been seen to worsen the condition in some patients. Taking plenty of water though in small quantity at a time is important as water loss is predominant and must be replenished.

Treatment: I have had the chance of treating many cases of ulcerative colitis and have found homoeopathic medicines to be very effective in its treatment. Medicines like Merc Sol, Nux Vomica, Arsenicum Album and Phosphorus are quite useful in tackling the predominant symptoms. I have also found Baptisia to be very effective in this disease. Taking the symptoms in detail and then prescribing the correct remedy and dosage is the need of the hour in such cases and may require a lot of labour, time and experience which is best left to a trained physician.

The writer is a Mohali-based homoeopathic practitioner. He can be contacted at



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