When it comes to your family’s health, their skin should be a major priority. But it can be tricky to care for skin at different stages of life. Some skin conditions are common for each age, and some skin conditions can occur at any time throughout our lives.
To help make sense of it all, we have some top tips from our very own Katie Novotny, a Certified Nurse Practitioner specializing in general adult and pediatric dermatology as well as treating common skin problems such as acne, eczema, rosacea and warts.
Katie will take you through some common family skincare questions you may run into and just what you can do about them.
What are some common skin rashes found on infants?
We all worry most when it comes to our littlest ones. Infants aren’t immune to skincare ailments, as Katie points out in these common skin rashes you may encounter.
Erythema Toxicum Neonatorum
“Erythema toxicum neonatorum is a newborn rash that will usually develop within the first few days of life in nearly half of newborns carried to term. It appears as “insect bites” or red spots on the skin with overlying white or yellow papules/pustules.”
The cause is unknown but may be the activation of the baby’s immune system or it could be a sensitivity to the environment. It will usually go away on its own in a few weeks and therefore, no treatment is necessary.
“This is a normal abnormality of the hair follicles where they grow on top of the skin rather than under. This is dominantly inherited and may appear at any age. It is most commonly seen on the upper outer arms, tops of thighs and lateral facial cheeks but can appear in other areas as small red or white bumps, except palms of hands and soles of feet. There tends to be a hormonal component to the onset of flares. Therefore, it is more prominent in infants (with hormones from mother), puberty, and during pregnancy. Treatments are designed to treat the redness or the bumpiness of the condition; all treatments require a lot of work with very minimal improvement.”
Eczema or atopic dermatitis
“This skin condition is a chronic rash that in infants can appear on the face, extensor surfaces of the arms and/or legs. Most commonly found in children with a family history of atopy (asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis). It usually starts at 3 months of age. It will flare during the winter months and appear as red, scaly patches on cheeks, chin and sometimes body usually sparing the diaper region.”
Triggers for eczema include changes in temperature, excessive exposure to water, decreased humidity when the furnace turns on, and contact with irritants such as wool, fragrance, and nickel. Treatment can include topical steroids, antihistamines, antibiotics, non-steroidal creams and sometimes oral prednisone.
“According to Katie, It is important to keep infants’ skin with atopic dermatitis moisturized with fragrance free creams/lotions, avoid hot baths, use fragrance free laundry detergents, no dryer sheets and no bleach in the laundry.”
It is sometimes helpful to put a humidifier on your furnace or in the baby’s room, avoid carpeting, use plastic mattress covers, avoid cigarette smoke, minimize exposure to animal dander and avoid aerosols.
What can I do to help my teen with acne?
“There are many ways to treat acne and not one treatment works for everyone because not all acne is caused by the same thing. You want to make sure your teen is washing his/her face daily. They should use a cleanser that is designed for acne. Over-the-counter there are cleansers containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. I like cleanses with the jojoba beads, that way they are manually exfoliating their skin when they wash.”
Other things that can aggravate acne are foods that contain refined sugar and white flour. These can increase cortisol levels which may also increase break outs. It is thought that milk causes acne; and if your kid is a big milk drinker make sure you are buying organic dairy that does not contain hormones.
“Hormones are one of the major components of acne and while we can’t always change their hormones at least we can decrease the amount they consume by buying organic.”
What sunscreen should I buy for my family?
Since preventing skin cancer should be your number one priority with your family not just in summer, but all year long, making sure you have a quality sunscreen is crucial.
“Sunscreens containing zinc and/or titanium are natural mineral blocks. They do a better job blocking the sun’s rays and are healthier for your skin. The number of SPF is not as important as the ingredients. I recommend using sunblock with an SPF 30 or higher.”
What should our family do to decrease our risk of skin cancer?
Skin cancer is serious. Making sure you’re taking every precaution can help save you and your family pain and grief.
“I encourage patients to get to know their moles so that way they can tell if something has changed. It is recommended that everyone over the age of 10 get a skin check at least once a year by their dermatologist.
It’s also important to avoid the use of indoor tanning beds. The newest data suggests that one visit to a tanning bed will increase your risk of developing a basal cell carcinoma (the most common form of skin cancer) by 70 percent!
“I also recommend using sunblock daily on exposed skin. The UV rays are present on days of rain, snow, and overcast.”
What are some good cosmetic treatments or products for mom?
Moms are always looking to care for their skin in the best ways they can. These are a few fantastic products for mom to keep her skin in tiptop shape.
“I recommend retinols, vitamin c, hyaluronic acid (we want to hydrate, not just moisturize), and daily sunblock use. Chemical peels, fillers, and Botox are great treatments to minimize fine lines, wrinkles, and signs of aging.”
What should older adults be aware of when it comes to skin care?
As you age, your body – and your skin – changes. Older individuals are more at risk for certain skin ailments and have to pay more attention to developments in their skin.
Actinic keratoses are precancerous lesions that can sometimes turn into skin cancer. They appear on sun damaged skin and increase in number with age. They begin as small patches of dry skin that won’t go away with the use of moisturizer.
Annual skin exams with a dermatologist, early treatment and prevention such as sunblock are important in order to prevent AKs from turning into non-melanoma skin cancers known as squamous cell carcinoma.”
Treatments offered by a dermatologist include cryotherapy or freezing the lesions with liquid nitrogen, seek-and-destroy creams that are prescription creams that when applied to sun damaged areas will find precancerous lesions, bring them to the surface and then destroy them, and/or photodynamic therapy (PDT) which is a procedure done in office that uses blue light to seek and destroy AKs.
“Rosacea is an adult form of acne that is most common after the age of 30. The most common triggers of rosacea include caffeine in all its forms: coffee, cola, chocolate and tea; hot foods like soup; spicy foods, alcohol, sun exposure and stress. Pay attention to what makes you flush and/or blush then that may be your trigger.”
With flares, you may get acne-like papules and pustules. There are many treatments for rosacea including: oral antibiotics, topical creams that reduce redness or papules/pustules and laser treatments.
Shingles (AKA Herpes Zoster)
“Herpes zoster also known as shingles is a painful, blistering rash that appears on one-side of the body. It can occur at any age but is more common after the age of 50. It is important to be seen by a medical professional within the first 72 hours of an outbreak to suppress the inflammation, infection, and pain.”
Family skincare can be complicated, but as long as you’re keeping an eye on these common skin ailments and seeing your dermatologist regularly, your family’s skin will be in great shape!
About Katie Novotny, MSN, RN, CNP
Katie Novotny is a Cleveland native who has specialized in the field of dermatology since 1996. She started her career as a Medical Assistant before becoming a Registered Nurse, and is now working for Apex Dermatology as a Certified Nurse Practitioner.
Katie’s interests include general adult and pediatric dermatology, and she specializes in treating common skin problems such as acne, eczema, rosacea and warts.