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Newborn Dermatoses: Visual Help for Diagnosis

August 18, 2023

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is a common expression that highlights the ease of extracting information and meaning from examining an image compared to reading information. Assessing visual features and patterns, with subsequent interpretation of this information, is a core skill in the dermatologic diagnostic process. One still needs the knowledge base with which to interpret the information, but the visual assessment is often the starting point. Thus, images of cutaneous findings provide an ideal teaching tool. The August issue of Pediatrics in Review gives the readers plenty of tools! There are more than 50 images to hone the readers’ skills in visual literacy along with the evidence-based knowledge with which to interpret the images and learn about the conditions and management.  

A key set of articles in this issue covers the spectrum of neonatal skin disease. The vulnerable nature of neonates, the vast array of skin disease in this population, the morphologic mimicry, and the concern over missing serious conditions makes this a challenging population with respect to diagnosing and managing skin disease. 

In Concerning Newborn Rashes and Developmental Abnormalities: Part I: Common and Benign Findings, the authors include common cutaneous findings in the newborn and then, in Part II: Congenital Infections, Ichthyosis, Neurocutaneous Disorders, Vascular Malformations, and Midline Lesions, they launch into a comprehensive presentation of neonatal skin disease. The material is organized in a clinically relevant way by grouping the diseases by their morphologic presentation. This method can help the reader not only learn about the conditions but how to distinguish similar-appearing skin conditions. The articles have a plethora of images, and examples are drawn from patients with a range of different skin colors.    

A review of varicella will be helpful for those not encountering this disease often and looking for a refresher.  

Finally, there are several cases for readers to work through. Diagnosing skin disease can be challenging for several reasons, including: the similar look of different conditions; the uncommon nature of many skin diseases; and the existence of less common variants of common conditions. These cases may challenge you or reinforce your knowledge, but you’ll have to read the cases to find out more! 

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