Caucasians, Asians, Africans, Europeans and many more have different skin colors. Depending on the race as well as family genetics, a child’s skin can either be fair or dark. When a child is observed to be quite pale for a long time or exhibit yellow skin, these are cause for alarm because this is no longer normal.
There are many reasons or causes why a child’s skin can become pale. These reasons may be fleeting or they may be indicative of a serious disease. There are some factors that will help to determine whether the pallor seen in children is serious or not.
- The duration or length of time the child has been pale is a significant clue to helping diagnose the cause of paleness.
- Blood tests reveal low blood counts.
- Pallor disappears with rest or inactivity.
- Pallor is evident with exhaustive activities.
- Any medical condition the child currently has.
- The dietary habits of the child.
What Causes Pale Skin in Children?
- Anemia – can be caused by an iron or vitamin B12 deficiency. This is one of the most common causes of paleness in children.
- Anemia can result from low intake of iron rich foods, impaired absorption of iron, presence of intestinal parasites, intestinal bleeding, hemolysis, chronic kidney disease, and even intake of certain medications.
- In anemia, the body has decreased iron which is important because it helps blood to carry oxygen.
Other common causes for paleness in children include:
- Albinism – a rare genetic disorder where the child has partial or complete lack of melanin in the skin causing pale skin.
- Vitiligo – patchy loss of skin color giving rise to pale looking skin.
- Hypothermia – cool or low temperatures cause the blood vessels to constrict causing a pale appearance.
- Childhood diseases accompanied with fever
- Rheumatic fever
- Congenital heart disorders
- Cystic fibrosis
- Genetic metabolic disorders such as phenylketonuria
Yellow Skin in Children
Aside from pale skin, yellow skin is not a normal skin color a child should exhibit. The presence of yellow skin is indicative of a serious condition.
- When a child has yellow skin, he or she is said to have jaundice.
- Jaundice is caused by an abnormally high level of bilirubin in the body.
- Bilirubin is produced from the breakdown of hemoglobin in the body and then processed by the liver to be removed from the body.
- There are several reasons why jaundice can appear including increased breakdown of red blood cells, poor liver processing of bilirubin, and blockage of bilirubin flow into the intestine.
- Newborns are commonly diagnosed to have mild jaundice in the first week of life because of increased breakdown of red blood cells.
Treatment for Pale or Yellow Skin In Children
Treating pale or yellow skin in children will be targeted towards treating the underlying cause.
- Anemia is treated with iron supplements or eating of iron rich foods.
- Children should also be given vitamins or vitamin-rich foods to help in the absorption of iron in the body.
- For severe cases, blood transfusions may be necessary.
- Jaundice is treated by eating a liver-friendly diet, taking antihistamines, vitamin B supplements, other medications, and in the case of blockage, surgery may be necessary.
- Jaundice in infants is also treated with phototherapy.