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5 Things Parents Need To Know About Hailey-Hailey Disease

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There are many different conditions that can cause rashes or blisters on your child's skin. Some of them are household names, like thrush and eczema, but others don't get as much attention. Here are five things you need to know about one of these lesser-known skin conditions, Hailey-Hailey Disease.

What is Hailey-Hailey disease?

Hailey-Hailey disease, also known as familial benign chronic pemphigus, is a type of genetic skin disease. It often develops in early adulthood, but it can develop at any age. 

What are the signs of Hailey-Hailey disease?

This disease leads to the formation of rashes or blisters on the skin, often in areas of the skin that experience friction like the sides of the neck and the groin. Thickened patches of skin may develop in these areas, and painful cracks may form in this skin. The blisters and cracks can later lead to scar formation. Your child may also develop a fever in addition to the skin symptoms.

What causes it?

Hailey-Hailey disease is a genetic disease. It's caused by mutations in a gene known as ATP2C1 by scientists. These mutations cause the cells within the epidermis, the top layer of the skin, to separate. Only one parent needs to have the disease for it to be passed down to a child, but the disease can also occur in children without a family history of it.

How common is it?

The National Institutes of Health lists Hailey-Hailey disease as a rare disease. For this health organization to categorize a disease as rare, it needs to affect less than 200,000 Americans. Given the current United States population (about 322 million) it can be inferred that Hailey-Hailey disease affects less than 0.06% of the population.

Can it be treated?

Like other rare diseases that don't receive a lot of attention, it's hard for doctors to treat Hailey-Hailey disease. Studies have reported a wide range of different treatment methods. The disease has been treated with everything from antibiotics to antifungals to steroids. It's even been treated with botulinum toxin! What this means for your child is that your dermatologist may have to experiment with multiple treatment options before something works.

While treating the disease can be hard, preventing outbreaks is possible. The disease may flare up due to triggers like heat, sweating, or sun exposure, so your dermatologist may tell you to have your child avoid these known triggers.

If you think your child might have Hailey-Hailey disease, make sure to see a dermatologist (like those at Southwest Dermatology Institute) right away for diagnosis and treatment.