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Many children have moles or marks on their skin, and they all get bumps and bruises during play, but some wound and skin conditions, such as a large birthmark, or wounds that won’t heal, need specialized medical care.

Shriners Children’s wound care teams and experienced plastic surgeons use surgical and nonsurgical techniques to correct skin differences and support the self-esteem of each child, to help them reach their dreams and goals. Because Shriners Children’s provides all care and services regardless of a family’s ability to pay or insurance status, physicians and families are able to consider every appropriate treatment option available, including inpatient medical admission for wound care, to bring hope and healing to a child.

We are medical leaders in pediatric burn care. This expertise can be very useful in treating a variety of difficult wounds and skin disorders not caused by burn injury. But we also specialize in caring for birthmarks such as vascular malformations, and skin infections and injuries. We also have a team of specialists to treat and help prevent pressure injuries (pressure ulcers) that can occur when children use wheelchairs, prosthetic devices or casts.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Types of Wounds We Treat

Following is an overview of the kinds of wounds we treat. (If you don’t see your child’s condition listed, please search all conditions or contact a Shriners Children’s location for assistance.):

  • Burns and pruritus: Itching after a burn
  • Surgical wounds: From incisions, pin sites or feeding tube surgeries that have trouble healing
  • Chronic or difficult to heal wounds
  • Pressure injuries : Pressure ulcer, bedsores
  • Trauma wounds: From burns or illness

Understanding Pressure Injuries

A pressure injury (pressure ulcer or bedsore) is damaged skin, as well as damaged tissue under the skin. These injuries occur more often over a bony area where the skin is squeezed or rubbed between bones, sometimes on a surface such as a wheelchair seat or bed. The skin doesn’t get enough blood flow to be healthy and it breaks down. Children who don’t have feeling in parts of their body or who can’t reposition themselves are at greater risk. Wounds sometimes also occur under a medical device such as a prosthesis, brace or cast. Doctors will refer to these wounds in stages: 1 to 4, unstageable, or deep tissue injuries. The higher the stage the more severe the wound.

Our Approach to Healing Wounds

A wound is an opening in the body’s protective layer of skin. Wounds that require specialized treatment to heal, can occur from burns, surgeries or pressure injuries. Doctors talk about wounds by how thick or deep they are in the child's tissue.

Wound Care and Treatment

Our teams evaluate wounds for size, depth, healthy versus unhealthy tissue, and drainage, along with the child’s overall health. Families appreciate how our specialists work together to develop a treatment plan. Your child’s wound care team may include rehabilitation medicine specialists called physiatrists, physical and occupational therapists, dieticians, nurses, care management, infectious disease specialists, plastic surgeons, orthotists, orthopedic surgeons and burn care specialists if needed.

We address all areas of the child's experience to help promote wound healing. Children with poor nutrition, which may occur after injury or illness, have wounds that heal more slowly. Clinical dieticians assess patients and help your child get the vitamins and minerals they need to help skin heal. Physical therapists assess equipment such as wheelchair fit during wheelchair seating clinics, the bed surface at home, or how a brace fits. Some locations offer computerized pressure mapping technology where sensors show how a child sits in a wheelchair.

We offer advanced wound care treatments including:

  • Surgery:
    • Surgical removal of dead tissue (surgical debridement)
    • Wound irrigation (pressurized fluid cleans the wound)
  • Advanced wound dressings and ointments: Such as collagenase (enzymes that help remove dead skin and tissue)
  • Taking weight off the wound: Or "offloading," through frequent turning or specialized mattresses or cushions
  • Wound Vac therapy: Negative pressure therapy
  • Electrical stimulation

In addition, Shriners Children’s plastic surgeons close some wounds with surgical skin flap procedures (FLAP surgery).

Skin Conditions We Treat

Below are common skin disorders and conditions we treat. (If you do not see your child’s condition, please search all conditions or contact a Shriners Children’s location.):

Skin Conditions

Birthmarks and Pigmentation Disorders

Advanced Care for Skin Disorders

Birthmarks (nevi) are present in 1 out of every 100 babies. Some also appear soon after birth. We don’t know what causes them. They can be brown/black (congenital melanocytic nevi) or they can be flesh colored (epidermal nevi, sebaceous nevi). Others are red or purple and are related to blood vessels (vascular malformations) like port wine stains or strawberry hemangiomas. Most are small, harmless and painless, and may disappear on their own. But some will keep growing larger, or the skin may itch, bleed or break down.

The pediatric plastic surgeons at Shriners Children’s can help with all types of birthmarks. We provide reconstructive surgery, corrective makeup or laser treatments.

Skin disorders can also affect how children feel about themselves. That’s why we include support services for a child’s emotional and psychological needs.

We have the multidisciplinary teams to optimally treat wounds.
Dr. Gabriela Martinez, Shriners Children's Chicago
male patient smiling

Laser Surgery Reduces Scars

With surgery, the appearance of scars from burns or illness may be improved. Additionally, laser surgery may improve mobility caused by growth and hypertrophic (raised) scarring.

Services We Provide

View All Related Services

Nutritional Services

Our clinical dietitians work closely with your child's care team to provide the best nutrition plan for both inpatients and outpatients. Meeting your child's nutritional needs prior to and after surgery is optimal for his or her recovery.

Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services

Shriners Children’s Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services designs, fits and manufactures orthotics and prosthetics for children from infants to young adults.

Care Management

The care management team at Shriners Children's consists of registered nurses and social workers who act as resources for families throughout their plan of care.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy at Shriners Children's helps children build confidence and strength, focusing on what is important to them and what they love to do in their daily lives.

Child Life Services

Child life professionals at Shriners Children’s take pride in focusing on the "above and beyond" aspects of medical care for our patients. From procedure support to camps, they are ready to advocate for your family.

Wheelchair and Seating

Shriners Children's wheelchair, seating and mobility program is a custom seating clinic available to children with seating needs. Practitioners, technicians and volunteers use tools like seat simulation, pressure mapping and hands on adjustments.

Pressure Garment Therapy

At Shriners Children's, pressure garment therapy is used to manage scars caused by severe burn wounds.

Makeup Clinic

At Shriners Children’s our make-up clinic specialists teach your child how to conceal scars and use make-up to soften their appearance. This helps build self-confidence during the healing process.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.