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M Health pediatric dermatology team fills local skin care void for kids

Kristen Hook, MD, leads an innovative new group of pediatric dermatologists who want to provide children with the highly specialized skin care they need and can’t find anywhere else.
(From left) Kristen Hook, Sheilagh Maguiness and Ingrid Polcari are the only board-certified pediatric dermatologists in the Twin Cities area. Working together at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, they provide an essential service to children that’s in short supply across the country.

In the medical world, pediatric dermatologists are rare: There are fewer than 250 board-certified pediatric dermatologists in the United States.

Fortunately for children with skin conditions and their parents in the Twin Cities region, University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital has three pediatric dermatologists who are able to treat anything from acne to capillary malformations. Our rapidly growing pediatric dermatology program is the only one of its kind in the area. The program is led by Pediatric Dermatologist Kristen Hook, MD, and fellow Pediatric Dermatologists Sheilagh Maguiness, MD, and Ingrid Polcari, MD.

For years, there weren’t any pediatric dermatologists at University of Minnesota Health. But in 2010, Hook, who also directs a University of Minnesota Health genetic skin disease program, established the pediatric dermatology division.

The division helps fill a crucial gap in pediatric care in the Twin Cities; pediatric skin diseases often require a different approach when they present in children, and there are some conditions unique to pediatric patients that Hook, Maguiness and Polcari are well-equipped to treat. All three see patients at Pediatric Specialty Care – Explorer Clinic.

“I think a lot of adult dermatologists and primary care providers may not feel as comfortable treating skin conditions in kids as aggressively as they need to be treated. One good example of this is eczema or atopic dermatitis. Specialized care is better overall for children with dermatologic diseases,” she said.

The care at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital is certainly specialized.

Hook, Maguiness and Polcari are capable of treating a broad range of conditions, but each of them also have distinct specializations.

Hook, who trained in dermatology at the University of Minnesota and received her specialty training at UCSD, has a specific interest in genetic skin disease, including Epidermolysis Bullosa (a rare skin condition leading to severe blistering in childhood) and ichthyosis, as well as vascular anomalies.

Learn more about our pediatric dermatology services.

Maguiness, who began her studies in Canada before completing them in the U.S. and most recently came from Boston Children’s Hospital, focuses on pediatric vascular anomalies, including infantile hemangiomas, and capillary malformations.

Polcari has a special interest in procedural dermatology, including nail surgery and laser surgery, but she also enjoys educating families about sun protection and ongoing skin care. She is a proponent of sun protection to prevent skin cancers and has published educational materials on the topic.

Despite their focus areas, the staff is capable of treating a wide range of conditions, from birthmarks on newborns to childhood rashes to teenage hair disorders and acne.

That specialty in all things kid-related gives Hook, Maguiness and Polcari an edge over adult dermatologists who also see children.

“I think if you’re not focused in the area, you’re not going to be aware of all the new advances and care methods that are out there,” Hook said. “We see kids all day long, every day; our expertise truly is pediatric skin conditions.”