The skin is the body’s largest organ. It’s also the most delicate in some ways, given that it’s exposed to the outside world. And everything from mild allergic reactions to cancer can affect it.
While skin cancer is rare in kids, it can occur. Understanding the risk factors and what to look out for can help ensure that you get your child the treatment they need before things worsen.
At the practice of Ali Hendi, MD, in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Dr. Hendi and our team of skin cancer experts diagnose and treat skin cancer in people of all ages. If your child needs the expertise of a pediatric dermatologist, our team can make a referral to one that suits the needs of your child.
Here, we explore skin symptoms in kids and what to do should you notice them.
Common skin conditions in kids
A broad range of conditions can cause skin symptoms during childhood. Some of the most common include rashes, hives, and acne.
These conditions can stem from a number of causes, such as bacterial, fungal, or viral infections, dermatitis, or skin inflammation. And they can all cause redness, bumps, itchiness and pain. Although Dr. Hendi and his team do not treat these conditions, they can refer to trusted dermatologists in the community.
Skin cancer in kids
Skin cancer is one of the least common and most potentially serious skin conditions in kids. Children can develop most any form of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Because skin cancer generally involves damage from UV rays — such as from sun exposure or tanning beds — the risk for your child increases with age. The more rays they’re exposed to, the greater their risk. That’s why melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, is far more prevalent in teenagers than toddlers.
Other risk factors for skin cancer include having a family history of the disease, having fair skin and light eyes, or having a history of sunburns.
Signs of skin cancer in kids
Most cases of skin cancer cause bumps or moles that change or appear abnormal. And these symptoms often appear on sun-exposed areas, such as the face, arms, hands, or neck.
A raised bump from basal cell carcinoma tends to be shiny or pearly and contain tiny blood vessels. It may be red, pink, or pale and bleed easily or have raised edges. The bump may disappear, seeming to heal, and then return a few weeks later.
Squamous cell carcinoma bumps tend to be rough, scaly, or wart-like. They, too, may bleed and crust over. Squamous cells can also appear as a flat, red patch with an irregular shape.
Melanoma usually shows up a mole that has:
- An irregular border
- Different colors, such as red, brown, black, or tan
- A diameter that’s larger than the size of a pencil eraser
What to do about your child’s skin symptoms
Any time your child shows unusual skin symptoms, it’s wise to consult a professional. Signs of skin cancer are especially important to act on quickly, given that even melanoma is most treatable and often curable in its early stages.
If your child is diagnosed with a form of skin cancer, our specialists will recommend a treatment plan. That plan may include removal through Mohs surgery, cryotherapy (freezing), chemical peels, topical medication, or laser surgery.
Mohs surgery is exceptionally precise and brings a very high success rate. Because it guards against recurrence, this may be your child’s best bet. We may also recommend positive skin protection habits and routine skin cancer surveillance to make sure your child and their skin stay healthy.
To learn more about pediatric skin conditions or to get the care your child needs, call 301-812-4591 or book an appointment online with the practice of Ali Hendi, MD, today.