Bend Pediatrician: Q & A with Dr. Hanna


You asked. Local pediatrician, Guitar Hanna, Bend Memorial Clinic Pediatrics, answers!

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Dear Dr. Hanna: My baby’s scalp is constantly peeling and sometimes small clumps of hair come out when I brush it.  I have tried everything from switching shampoos to covering her head in moisturizer, but nothing seems to help.  Why is this happening?

Dr. Hanna: From the sound of what you are describing, I believe your baby has Seborrheic Dermatitis, aka “cradle cap.” This condition occurs in areas of the body that have many oil-producing glands that get inflamed. In infants, this condition causes greasy scales, mostly on the scalp, but can occur on the face, ears, and neck. This usually resolves by 8 to 12 months of age without treatment. Some cases do need treatment. What I did for my daughter was apply a small amount of emollient (like petroleum jelly, mineral oil, or baby oil) to the scalp overnight. Then with a soft brush, gently massaged her scalp to loosen the scaly patches, then shampoo. With that said, since your baby’s cradle cap has persisted for some time now and clumps of hair are coming out, he should be seen by a pediatrician as he may have a fungal infection that is worsening the inflammation, thereby requiring a prescription for an anti-fungal shampoo.

Dear Dr. Hanna: Last year my daughter came home from school with lice, and it was such an awful experience that I never want to deal with that again.  With school starting soon, I’m feeling anxious about her being exposed and am wondering if there’s anything we can do to prevent this?

Dr. Hanna: Yes, lice is an awful experience to deal with. Lice are tiny insects that can live on people’s skin and in their hair, causing itching. They do not fly or jump. They spread by person-to-person contact. Your daughter can reduce her chances of getting lice by not sharing personal items, such as a hat, a comb, hair bands, and pillows. It’s challenging, as you don’t really know who has lice until it’s a little too late, so avoiding sharing personal items is the key to prevention.

Dear Dr. Hanna: What are your suggestions for talking to kids about the uncomfortable subject of puberty? Should we just get it over with and have the birds and bees conversations while we are at it?

Dr. Hanna: Puberty. Our children’s hormones are changing, their bodies are morphing, and their brains have questions that push the limits of our comfort zone. It is imperative to keep an open communication with your children, especially around these uncomfortable subjects. In the past, when your child fell and injured their elbow or knee, they came to you, with confidence and without shame. As parents you comforted them and helped with that injury, with confidence and without shame. Similarly, we should talk to our children and address these uncomfortable subjects revolving around puberty and “where do babies come from?” in the same open way. You don’t want to jump the gun and rush the topic to get it over with. Answer their questions truthfully, with patience and comfort. Avoid shying away saying, “we’ll talk about it later.” Use the opportunity now to establish good communication with your children so that they can get the accurate information from you, rather than friends, or worse the internet. It will then encourage them to continue coming to you for advice in the future.

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