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Why Should Your Child See a Dermatologist?

Whether planned or unplanned, visits to the pediatrician, dentist and eye doctor are common practice for most parents. But when should a child see a dermatologist?

There are many reasons that should come into consideration, according to Dr. Rachel Wheatley.

“Dermatologists are board-certified experts in skin, hair and nails, and we have training regarding thousands of conditions that can occur in these parts of the body,” Wheatley said. “From evaluating and monitoring birthmarks to managing eczema and acne, there are many reasons a child might need to see a dermatologist.”

Some of these include:

Evaluating and Monitoring Birthmarks

“Most birthmarks typically grow along with a child,” Wheatley said. “So, if the birthmark starts to look different or changes over time—if it gets thicker, bumpy, itchy or painful—all of these would be good reasons to see a dermatologist.” If your child has a birthmark, Wheatley recommends visiting a dermatologist regularly, starting early on so the physician can perform a baseline evaluation to be monitored going forward.

Monitoring Various Skin Conditions

Eczema, acne, skin infections such as warts or molluscum and autoimmune conditions such as vitiligo or hair loss from alopecia are all good reasons for a child to see a dermatologist, Wheatley said. Dermatologists can also check in on evolving and changing moles. As specialists, dermatologists can provide and overall, in-depth evaluation of your child’s skin, Wheatley added. “But it’s also helpful to simply have a good idea of what your child’s skin looks like, to have that baseline knowledge so you can monitor for any changes,” she said.

A Skin Condition That’s Not Improving

“If you’ve visited the pediatrician or used over-the-counter treatments and your child’s skin condition isn’t improving, it might be a good time to see a dermatologist,” Wheatley said, stressing that this is especially true for conditions such as eczema, acne or skin infections. If your child has a lot of moles, birthmarks or new skins growths, Wheatley recommended an evaluation with a dermatologist to ensure that these growths are normal and healthy.

While pediatricians treat children across a wide range of medical issues, dermatologists are specialists, focusing on hair, skin and nails. That expertise is one of the main benefits of consulting a dermatologist about your child’s skin, Wheatley said.

“It’s really important to have your child’s skin evaluated by a specialist,” Wheatley said. “As dermatologists, we’re required to stay up-to-date on treatment options and evolving research in the world of dermatology, so we can provide your child’s skin with the best possible care and the most up-to-date, scientifically accurate care.”

Dermatologists can also offer advice to help you keep your child’s skin at its healthiest. Two general tips Wheatley says every parent should practice are:

  • Start using sun protection early: Following American Academy Dermatology recommendations, Wheatley urges parents to use broad spectrum sunscreen, which protects against UVA and UVB rays, at SPF 30 or above every day, reapplying every two hours when outdoors and more frequently when sweating or swimming. Wheatley also recommends parents take advantage of UV protective clothing, such as sun shirts and rash guards. “These really help minimize the guesswork of reapplication and knowing which areas of the skin are protected,” she said.
  • Use quality skin products: In general, Wheatley recommends using “more basic” moisturizers and cleansers on your child’s skin, skipping heavy fragrances, botanicals and other add-ins. “Kids’ skin is a little more sensitive, so minimizing the extra added ingredients is important,” she said.

Dr. Rachel Wheatley is part of the dermatology team at North Pacific Dermatology, which is a subsidiary of PhyNet Dermatology. Dr. Wheatley sees patients at our Eastside Dermatology location in Bellevue, Washington. She holds advanced degrees in dermatology and is Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology. In her spare time, Dr. Wheatley enjoys hiking, camping, and snowboarding with her husband.

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