Skin problems are common in childhood. You will want to know about the early signs of a skin infection, what treatment is available and what to do if the skin condition gets worse. 


A child's hand showing a skin condition

A boil is a tender red lump on the skin - an infection caused by bacteria. Boils are not usually a serious problem and you can treat most boils at home, especially if you notice them early. Sometimes, boils need more treatment.

Animal bites from dogs and cats are common, especially in tamariki. If your child has had an animal bite, see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. They may need treatment.

An insect bite is usually a red itchy bump. There may be a blister in the middle. Sometimes insect bites are painful (especially spider bites) as well as itchy.

There are some simple steps you can take to prevent your child getting a skin infection.

Acne is a common skin condition that usually starts in the teenage years. It usually clears up after several years, but for some people, it can last a lot longer.

A boil is a tender red lump on the skin which is caused by an infection of the hair root or sweat pore. Boils are not usually a serious problem. There is a small chance of your child becoming sicker if the infection spreads - if this happens you should take your child to your family doctor.

Any area of skin can become infected with cellulitis if the skin is broken in some way. Cellulitis is a serious infection that needs treatment with antibiotics.

How to care for cuts, scratches and grazes. If your child has a wound that won't stop bleeding, see your doctor or go to the emergency department.

The 'Eczema Hub' gives you easy access to all KidsHealth eczema content developed and approved by the Paediatric Society NZ's Eczema Clinical Network, Te Rōpū Kiripai Hapori.

The foreskin is the loose skin that covers and protects the end of the penis. The foreskin and penis of a baby or child need no special care. A child's foreskin should never be pulled back (retracted) by force.

The vulva includes the outer genitals in females. The skin around the vulva is thin in tamariki and can be easily irritated. Good vulval skin care can help lessen the chance of irritation. 

Head lice are small insects that live on the human scalp. They are common and cause concern and frustration for parents, tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people). Dimethicone lotion is a very effective treatment that a health professional can prescribe. Check out our step by step guide.

If your child has Henoch-Schonlein purpura, you may first notice a rash. This is caused by inflammation and swelling of the small blood vessels in the skin. 

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection that causes small raised bumps on the skin. It is common in tamariki (children). The bumps usually clear up on their own, but some tamariki may need treatment.

The main cause of nappy rash is wearing a wet or dirty nappy for too long. Keep your baby's skin clean and dry. 

Ringworm is a flat, ring-shaped infection. See your doctor if the ringworm is on your child's scalp as this needs treatment with medicine.

Scabies is caused by a tiny mite which digs under the skin and lays eggs. Small blisters grow on the skin above each egg and the skin gets very itchy.

School sores (impetigo) are common in children. They are easily spread and need treatment. 

Warts are common, harmless skin growths caused by a virus. Warts will disappear within 2 years in most tamariki (children).

A 24 page booklet with information, diagrams and photos about looking after your child's skin and treating skin infections.

Lichen sclerosus is an uncommon skin condition. It affects males and females of all ages but mainly affects tamariki before puberty.

School sores (impetigo) are common in tamariki (children). They are easily spread and need treatment. Keep your child home from school, kindergarten or daycare until one day after the start of treatment.

Find out the most important steps when tamariki have skin infections. Every day check, clean, cover, eat well, sleep. Wash your hands before and after touching infected skin.

A poster with information about a range of skin conditions comparing early signs and how the skin condition spreads. There is advice about what to do about the skin infection and what to do if it gets worse. There is also advice about how much time your child will need off from school or kura.