Skin Conditions

Adopt Special Needs: Special Needs - Skin ConditionsA person's skin is his or her largest organ, covering and protecting the body.  All around the world there are children available for adoption with skin conditions.  We provide the following information for reference purposes only and cannot attest to the accuracy of the information. We highly recommend speaking with an experienced physician for further details on each condition.

Common Skin Conditions

Albinism

Adopt Special Needs: Special Needs - Skin Conditions - Albinism
Albinism
occurs when one of several genetic defects make the body unable to produce or distribute melanin, a natural substance that gives color to your hair, skin, and iris of the eye. A child with albinism will have one of the following symptoms: absence of coloring from the hair, skin, or iris of the eye; lighter than normal skin and hair; or patchy, missing skin color. Many forms of albinism are associated with the following symptoms: light sensitivity (photophobia), rapid eye movements (nystagmus), vision problems, and occasionally functional blindness or crossed eyes (strabismus).

Causes:
Albinism is caused by a mutation in one of several genes. Each of these genes provides instructions for making one of several proteins involved in the production of melanin. A mutation may result in no melanin at all or a significant decline in the amount of melanin.  Albinism is a hereditary condition. It is usually inherited in a recessive pattern, meaning both parents must carry the albinism gene to have a child with albinism.

Treatment: 
Albinism cannot be cured with medicine or surgery. Frequent eye exams are necessary as the child may have decreased vision. Providing large, clear pictures/letters to children with albinism can help develop both vision and language skills. Wearing hats and sunglasses, even when indoors, can help make a child more comfortable and less sensitive to light. Wearing sunscreen is important anytime a child goes outside in order to prevent sunburn. 

Prognosis:
Albinism does not normally affect life skin.  People with albinism can live very full, successful lives.

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Burns

Adopt Special Needs: Special Needs - Skin Conditions - Burns
Burns
are injuries that may be caused by cooking, hot grease or oil, electrical wires, hot water, chemicals, frostbite or fire.The damage from a burn can vary greatly depending on how hot the burn source and how long the skin was exposed. 

  • First degree burns (or single thickness burn) normally heal within five to seven days. This type of burn is red in color and will turn white when pressure is added to it. This burn can cause some skin discoloration and usually heals without scarring.

  • Second degree burns (partial thickness burn) are more serious than a first degree burn. The second layer or dermis under the skin is damaged. This may leave scarring. Blisters may form and should not be “popped”. It is very painful. A deeper second-degree burn (deep partial thickness burn) may appear dry and have an ivory or pearly white color to it.

  • Third degree burns (full thickness burn) affects all the skin layers, epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous layers. This serious burn may appear dry and dark brown. The skin is destroyed. Other things that may be lost with this type of burn are hair follicles and sweat glands.   Once destroyed these cannot come back.

Possible complications:
Infection is the most common complication of burns.

Treatment: 
Second and third degree burns may require ongoing treatment, including bandages or pressure garments. In the case of severe burns, a child may require debridement (the removal of dead tissue) and skin grafting.  In skin grafting, a piece of skin is surgically sewn over the burn after dead tissue is removed. Cosmetic surgery may be considered to improve both the function and appearance of the burned area.

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Congenital Blue Nevus


Other common names:
 
Mongolian spots

A congenital blue nevus is a blue birthmark present at birth. It may be light to dark blue in appearance and is usually flat to slightly raised.

Treatment: 
Usually no treatment is needed. It usually remains unchanged throughout life. Sometimes nevi will fade as the person ages. In rare circumstances, nevi may become cancerous and need to be removed.

Congenital Nevus Birthmark


Congenital nevi are common birthmarks. The size of the nevus may vary from a small one-inch mark to a giant birthmark covering half of the body or more. Nevi vary greatly in size, shape, texture, and hairiness.  The color can vary from light brown to nearly black.  Some have fine downy hair; many have long, thick, darker, coarser or curlier hair. A child may have one giant nevus and many small nevi or only small-scattered nevi.

Causes:
There is no known cause, and therefore no way to prevent these birthmarks. 

Possible complications:  
There is risk of skin cancer developing in the nevus. The risk is higher during the time when the body is maturing.

Treatment: 
Treatment of nevi depends on size, location, estimated risk for skin cancer, and expected benefit in appearance.  It is important to look closely at congenital moles on a regular basis. Photographs of the nevus at regular intervals can help the caregiver note changes. Signs of early change to skin cancer include the development of irregular borders, changes in color and a change in the surface of the mole. When changes are noted consult with a doctor is important. Babies with giant congenital moles have an increased risk of developing skin cancers. Many of these skin cancers will occur during the first ten years of life.

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Eczema

Adopt Special Needs: Special Needs - Skin Conditions - Eczema
Eczema
is an inflammatory condition of the skin. The skin may become red, dry, itchy, and scaly. It may bleed or weep clear fluid, and may form a crusty covering on the skin. Eczema is not contagious. Some children keep a light rash or other symptoms at all times. Eczema can occur in all ages but is usually seen by 12 months of age. The symptoms may improve over time with care, often by six years of age. This skin condition is quite uncomfortable, often making it difficult for children to sleep, sit still, and pay attention to directions. A child with eczema is at risk for skin infections due to the cracks or openings in the skin.  Infants and young children may have a rash on the face, elbows, or knees. In older children and adults, the rash is often found on the hands, neck, inner elbows, backs of the knees, and ankles.

Causes:
Doctors don't know exactly what causes eczema. The most common type of eczema resembles and allergy, but is actually not an allergic reaction.  Eczema may be caused by a combination of factors including:

  • Genetics
  • Abnormal function of the immune system
  • Environment
  • Activities that may cause skin to be more sensitive
  • Defects in the skin barrier that allow germs in

Some people may have their eczema worsen as a reaction to some foods, including dairy, wheat, citrus, eggs, nuts, seafood, chemical food additives, and preservatives.  Stress, including changes of routine, changes in caregivers, older children being embarrassed by the look of their skin, or school pressure may also worsen eczema.  Exposure to types of clothing, soaps, shampoos, and washing powders may cause it to worsen, as well as hot and humid weather or cold and dry weather.

Treatment: 
Applying moisturizer with no added fragrance daily (or more often) is very important.  Learn and avoid those things that trigger eczema for that child.  An anti-inflammatory topical cream such as hydrocortisone may be necessary to control a flare of eczema.

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Ichthyosis


Ichthyosis is a rare genetic skin disease where the skin can be extremely dry and have patches of dark scales. Other symptoms include itchy skin, difficulty sweating, and thinning hair. Because of the tightness of the skin, it may be painful to move parts of the body. This condition can be present at birth or the symptoms can develop during the first four years of life.  Some people develop a milder version only in the winter.  

Possible complications:  
Splitting and cracking of the skin can lead to skin infections.  Skin may build up over the eyes or ears leading to impaired eyesight and hearing.

Causes:
Ichthyosis is most often caused by a genetic mutation inherited from one or both parents. Children who inherit a defective gene from just one parent have a milder form of the disease, while those who inherit two defective genes have a more severe form. Children often have normal skin at birth, but develop scaling and roughness during the first few years of life.

Treatment: 
The care of the child's skin should be directed by a dermatologist. Antibiotics or antibiotic ointment may be needed if a skin infection develops. Alpha hydroxy acids, such as lactic acid and glycolic acid, may be used to help control scaling and increase skin moisture.

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Scabies


Scabies are small mites that live under the skin. Symptoms are pimple-like irritations, red lines or rash of the skin. Children with scabies often have intense itching, especially at night and over most of the body. Some children will form sores on the body caused by scratching. These sores can become infected. Scabies are common in places where there are crowded conditions and direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person already infested with scabies. Scabies are extremely common in orphanage settings.

Treatment: 
Medicated lotions are available to treat scabies. Itching may continue for 2-3 weeks, and does not mean that the patient is still infested. A doctor may prescribe additional medication to relieve itching if it is severe.

Prognosis:
Children with scabies have an excellent prognosis. In most cases, with prescription treatment, they stop being contagious within 24 hours. Major symptoms usually improve noticeably within a few days.

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