Common childhood rashes | Pregnancy Birth and Baby
If your child has a seizure, call triple zero (000) immediately and ask for an ambulance.
If you think your child might have meningococcal rash, go to the nearest emergency department immediately.
There are many different types of childhood rashes. Many are not serious.
If your child has a rash and fever, they should see their doctor.
If your child has a meningococcal rash, go immediately to the emergency department.
If you think your child might have meningococcal rash, go to the nearest emergency department immediately.
You can read more about serious childhood rashes here.
Rashes with no fever or itching
Milia (blocked oil glands)
Up to 1 in every 2 newborn babies develop small white spots called milia on their face, especially on the nose. These are just blocked pores, and they’re not itchy or contagious. They usually clear up without treatment within a few weeks.
Many newborns develop a blotchy red skin reaction called erythema toxicum, which can appear between 2 days and 2 weeks after birth. Flat, red patches or small bumps often first appear on the face and spread to the body and limbs. The rash is harmless, not contagious, and will clear after a few days or a week.
Some babies get pimples on their cheeks and nose in the first three months of life. These pimples normally disappear without any treatment, usually within a few months.
Nappy rash is inflammation of the skin in the nappy area. It can look red, sore and inflamed. Nappy rash is usually caused by urine (wee) or faeces (poo) irritating the skin.
To avoid nappy rash, keep the nappy area clean and dry with frequent nappy changes and nappy-free time. You can help protect the skin by putting on a barrier cream such as zinc or soft white paraffin at each nappy change.
Persistent nappy rash can be treated with a medicated cream. Don’t use talcum powder or antiseptics to treat nappy rash. If your baby develops a fungal infection, you’ll need to use an antifungal ointment. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Erythema multiforme (minor)
Erythema multiforme is a rash triggered by an infection (most commonly herpes simplex virus), medicine or an illness. Your baby might feel unwell or have a mild fever before the rash appears. Red spots develop on the hands, feet, arms and legs and spread symmetrically across both sides of the body. The spots often become raised or blistered and then develop into classic target-like lesions.
Erythema multiforme is not contagious, and usually resolves without treatment in 3 to 6 weeks.
Keratosis pilaris (‘chicken skin’)
Keratosis pilaris is a harmless condition where the skin becomes rough and bumpy, as if permanently covered in goose pimples. These bumps most commonly occur on the upper arms and thighs. You can try several things to help the rash to clear up, including moisturising regularly.
Rashes that might be itchy
Eczema (Atopic dermatitis)
Eczema is a very common skin condition affecting 1 in 3 Australians. It causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked, often in the creases at the knees and elbows.
Eczema commonly starts before a baby is 12 months old. Eczema follows a relapsing-remitting course. This means that there are flare-ups of the rash, followed by periods where there is no rash or a minimal rash.
Eczema management includes preventative treatment such as avoiding skin irritants, moisturising regularly and using bath oil. Treatment of flare-ups includes using steroid and anti-inflammatory creams.
Ringworm is a common, contagious skin infection that causes a ring-like red rash with a clear centre. It commonly occurs on the scalp, feet and groin, but it can appear almost anywhere on the body.
Ringworm is caused by a fungus, not a worm, and is usually treated with over-the-counter antifungal creams. You should keep your child home from childcare or school until a day after you have started treatment to prevent spreading the infection.
Prickly heat (heat rash)
Heat rash might appear if your baby gets hot in a humid environment. The rash shows as tiny red bumps or blisters on the skin, which can be very itchy. Cooling your baby down and avoiding humidity is the best way to prevent heat rash, which usually clears within 2 to 3 days without treatment.
Impetigo (school sores)
Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the skin. It causes red sores and blisters that form a yellow crust. It is very common in children aged 2 to 6, and it is not usually serious in this age group, but it can be dangerous for newborn babies.
If your child has impetigo, you should see your doctor, who might prescribe an antibiotic cream, ointment or tablet. This should clear the infection within 7 to 10 days. Keep your child home from childcare or school and away from young babies until the sores have dried up, usually a few days after treatment starts.
Hives is a raised, red, itchy rash. It is common on the chest, stomach and back, as well as the throat and limbs, but it can appear on any part of the body. Hives usually disappears within a few days without any treatment. Antihistamines can be given to relieve itching. If the rash doesn't go away, you should see your doctor.
Hives isn’t usually serious, but it can be a sign of a more serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If your child develops hives after eating, or together with other symptoms such as vomiting, dizziness or trouble breathing, you should seek urgent medical attention.
If your child has symptoms of a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), call triple zero (000) immediately and ask for an ambulance.
Pityriasis rosea is a mild skin rash that sometimes appears after a sore throat, cold or fever. It begins with a single pink or tan-coloured patch on the chest or back. Red, oval-shaped patches, which may be itchy, then appear on the chest or back and limbs over the next weeks.
The exact cause of pityriasis rosea is unclear, and it is not thought to be contagious. The rash usually clears up within a couple of months without treatment.
If you are pregnant, pityriasis rosea can in rare cases lead to complications. See your doctor if you are pregnant and have contact with a child who has pityriasis rosea.
Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection that is spread by skin-to-skin contact or by sharing swimming pool water, bath water or towels.
Molluscum contagiosum spots look like pimples and grow into round pearly white lumps, usually 2 to 5 millimetres in size. They can be itchy. They usually heal without treatment within 6 months, but sometimes longer.
Rashes with fever
Slapped cheek disease (fifth disease)
Slapped cheek disease is a viral infection that mainly affects pre-school and school-age children. It typically causes a bright red rash on both cheeks that spreads as a ‘lacy’ rash on the body and limbs. Occasionally, it causes a fever.
Slapped cheek disease is usually mild and clears up in a few days without treatment. The child is contagious before the rash appears, but not once it has appeared.
If you are pregnant and catch the virus, it may cause a type of anaemia in your unborn baby. It can also cause miscarriage. If you suspect you or your child has slapped cheek disease, you should avoid contact with people who might be pregnant.
Hand, foot and mouth disease
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a mild but highly contagious viral illness. It causes a rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet and blisters in the mouth. It is not the same as the foot-and-mouth disease that affects farm animals.
The disease is common in childcare and kindergartens. Your child might feel unwell and have a fever and blisters on the hands and feet and in the mouth and in the nappy area. The illness usually lasts about 7 to 10 days. Children with hand, foot and mouth disease should stay away from childcare or school until all the blisters have dried up.
Hand, foot and mouth disease usually resolves on its own without complications. In rare cases, it can be more serious, especially if you have a weakened immune system or are pregnant. Complications can include infections of the brain and heart muscle and miscarriage.
Roseola infantum is a contagious viral infection that can cause cold-like symptoms and a high fever. The high fever may last for a few days. Roseola infantum can also cause some children to have a febrile convulsion (seizure).
Children with roseola infantum develop a rash after the fever has resolved. The rash looks like raised pink spots that start on the chest, stomach and back and spread to the limbs. The child is contagious before the rash appears, but not after. The rash usually lasts 3 to 5 days.
Febrile convulsions can look scary but are generally not harmful.
If your child has a seizure, call triple zero (000) immediately and ask for an ambulance.
When to seek help
Many babies develop a skin rash in their first days or weeks of life as their sensitive skin adapts to a new environment. Most rashes are harmless and go away on their own, but if your baby seems unwell, or if you’re worried, you should see your doctor. They can advise about the cause and whether treatment is necessary.
Whatever their age, you should take your child to the doctor if they have a rash and persistent high temperature, cold or cough symptoms or swollen neck glands.
Treatment of common childhood rashes
If you think your child might be contagious, they should stay at home. Keep them away from school, childcare and other children. You should also keep them away from people who are pregnant, or who might be pregnant, since some childhood infections can cause serious problems in unborn babies.
You can use paracetamol or ibuprofen (in babies aged over 3 months) to reduce fever — read the packet instructions carefully to ensure your child receives the right amount for their age and weight.
Your pharmacist can advise you on treating the symptoms of common rashes. For example, you can use over-the-counter creams to prevent itchiness.
If you are concerned about your child’s rash, call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to talk to a maternal child health nurse, or call Healthdirect on 1800 022 022 to talk to a registered nurse. Alternatively, contact your doctor.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
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Rashes on the child's body
Many parents have noticed suspicious rashes on the body of their children. This symptom indicates the presence of any disease of the body or simply its painful condition. In any case, a rash on a child's body can be very dangerous. Therefore, if you notice a rash on the skin, you should immediately make an appointment with the child's pediatrician.
Make an appointment
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Causes of rashes
A rash in children can appear for various reasons. The most “safe” case is when rashes appear due to poor hygiene. In addition, the cause of the rash is allergies, blood diseases, cardiovascular diseases, as well as infections and microbes. In the case of an infection, a rash is not the only symptom: fever, runny nose, sore throat, severe cough, chills, etc. are added to it. Often infections are accompanied by indigestion and vomiting. The rash in such cases does not occur immediately, but appears after a few days.
Rash most often occurs as a symptom of diseases that are commonly referred to as "children's". We are talking about chicken pox, rubella, measles, scarlet fever and some other infections that people get sick, mainly in childhood. Moreover, depending on the disease, the nature of the rash changes, so that doctors can diagnose only one type of rash. The most dangerous rash, which refers to the symptoms of meningitis.
Diseases causing rashes on the skin of children
Let's analyze the types of rash in a child in more detail, depending on the disease.
Chicken pox. Perhaps the most famous disease that is accompanied by a rash. With chickenpox, reddish spots appear on the entire surface of the body, which grow and become bubbles filled with a clear liquid. The growth of the bubbles is accompanied by itching, but over time they dry out and fall off, sometimes leaving characteristic “pockmarks”. Chicken pox often causes fever, and doctors recommend treating blisters of the rash with brilliant green.
Measles. Initially, a rash in the form of large red spots appears on the face, but literally within 2-3 days it spreads “from top to bottom” along the body to the very legs. In addition, the child begins to have a sore throat, runny nose and cough, and the temperature rises. The largest spots merge into large inflamed areas.
Meningococcal infection. The most dangerous infection, as it causes meningitis. It is very important to recognize the disease in time, as it develops very quickly. The rash is expressed in the form of large spots resembling bruises. If you see a doctor as soon as possible, the chances of a cure are very high.
Rubella. The rash is accompanied by fever and inflammation of the lymph nodes. A rash on the body of a child in the form of small red spots appears mainly on the buttocks and in the places where the limbs are bent. After a few days, the rash disappears without leaving any consequences.
Scarlet fever. With scarlet fever, a rash in the form of small pimples appears on the second day all over the body, but their highest concentration is noted in the groin, in the places of the folds of the arms and legs and in the lower abdomen. After a few days, the rash disappears, and the skin in these places begins to peel off strongly. Also during the peak of the disease, swelling, rash and redness of the entire skin are noted.
Enteroviral infection. Redness and rash appear on the third day after infection and last for about two to three days. Their other symptoms, doctors note vomiting, diarrhea, fever and general weakness of the body.
Parasites. In this case, the rash is not caused by infections, but by scabies mites or other parasites that live on the human body. The scabies mite "drills" holes in the skin, leaving entrances and exits in the form of dots. The most “attractive” parts of the body for a tick are places with thin skin: groin, wrists, areas between fingers, etc. Since the tick can be transmitted from one person to another, urgent treatment is necessary after the detection of this pathology.
Cardiovascular diseases. As a rule, these diseases are not typical for children, although they occur in them. Vascular disease can be recognized by small hemorrhages under the skin. Larger areas form bruises.
Other causes of rashes
Sometimes, even with all the rules of hygiene and the absence of diseases, a rash on the body of a child appears with enviable regularity. In this case, it is most likely an allergic reaction of the body to various substances. If this is true, then allergies can be recognized by other symptoms that will inevitably appear along with the rash: a runny nose, cough, tears, and itching. Also, a rash on the body of a child may appear from burns by plants or insect bites. Even a simple mosquito bite often causes a severe rash in children, which is accompanied by itching.
And, of course, very often a rash appears due to poor hygiene. Unlike adults, children's skin is much thinner and more delicate, so even a short-term lack of care for it can lead to a rash. Children, especially the smallest, should be washed and washed regularly. But wearing a lot of clothes on him or leaving him in wet diapers is not worth it - this can lead to diaper rash, irritation, and a rash.
If you find a rash on your child's body, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. You can make an appointment at our Poem Health clinic. In addition, you can call a doctor at home if the child is in a serious condition. Moreover, sometimes a doctor's house call is mandatory, since many diseases with symptoms in the form of a rash are easily transmitted to such children. You need to be especially careful with rubella, as it seriously affects the health of pregnant women. And if you suspect meningitis, you need to call not just a doctor, but an ambulance team.
Do not try to get rid of the rash on your own before seeing a doctor. Firstly, it will make it difficult for a doctor to determine the diagnosis. Secondly, it can lead to even more rashes in the child. It is best to wait for the examination of the doctor and listen to his recommendations for further treatment of the rash. Bacterial rashes are treated with antibiotics, scabies - with special means against ticks, allergies - with appropriate drugs with isolation from the source of allergies, etc. More complex treatment is needed for cardiovascular diseases, but, in the end, a rash on the body of a child is always treated successfully.
To avoid a rash on the body, measures must be taken to prevent it. First of all, we are talking about the basic rules of personal hygiene. At the earliest age, parents should take care of this, later they should teach this to their child as early as possible. Compliance with hygiene helps to get rid of not only rashes, sweating and dirt, but also prevents many infectious diseases.
In addition, infections can be prevented by vaccination. Some of them are done once and for life, others need to be done periodically. Doctors have a vaccination schedule for different ages, so it's best for parents to trust their pediatrician. As for the rash due to allergies, this is often associated with age-related changes. As a child grows, their immune system strengthens, but at an early age, if there are problems, you should follow a diet and take drugs as directed by doctors.
Causes of a rash in children
Naturally, only a pediatrician, dermatologist or allergist can correctly determine the cause of rash , diagnose and prescribe treatment for a child. But the parents themselves can provide initial assistance, relieve itching and help the baby, knowing the main signs and causes of the rash . At the first stage, it is important to determine the nature of the rash - infectious , allergic or none of the above.
Causes of rashes in children:
1. Newborn acne . For the first time may occur in newborns at the age of 1 - 2 months. As a rule, such rashes are hormonal in nature, are not contagious and are not allergies . A rash in the form of pimples, sometimes with a white dot in the middle, appears on the head, body of the baby. If there are no purulent compartments, then the rash goes away on its own and does not require treatment. Acne can also occur in teenagers. They most often appear on the face as black dots and are associated with hormonal changes in the body of a teenager and increased work of the sebaceous glands. To prevent acne, there are cosmetic lotions, washing gels and other products. In case of inflammation, it is better to seek advice from a pediatric dermatologist or cosmetologist, because. antibiotic treatment may be needed;
2. Urticaria is an allergic reaction on the skin of a child, accompanied by itching and blisters on various parts of the body, in some cases fever and disturbed chair child. The blisters appear suddenly and can disappear just as quickly, but sometimes they disappear only after a few days. The causes of urticaria can be various factors: hormonal disorders, malfunctions of the liver, kidneys, consumption of foods that caused an allergic reaction (fish, eggs, citrus fruits, etc.), insect bites, reaction to sunlight, temperature changes, emotional stress etc. Urticaria can be chronic and not go away for a long time, and acute - disappearing after a few hours. For the treatment of urticaria, it is important to identify the underlying cause that caused it;
3. Food allergy manifests itself as spots pinkish red. It is slightly convex, edematous in places of scratching and is accompanied by itching. It is localized, as a rule, on the baby's cheeks, but can also appear on other parts of the body. It can occur in both infants and adolescents. If the baby is breastfed, then the allergy that has arisen is associated with the products consumed by the mother. If the newborn is artificially fed, then an allergic reaction may appear on the mixture. In older children, food allergies can be caused by fish, eggs, nuts, chocolate, strawberries, and other foods;
Allergy, as a rule, is accompanied by edema, which, in turn, in case of improper treatment and untimely assistance, cause suffocation . If an allergy of any nature occurs, a pediatrician's consultation is required to help in choosing the optimal mixture for the baby, or a pediatric dermatologist - allergist to refer older children to laboratory tests ;
4. Household allergies . It can occur in both newborns and older children. It usually appears as pimples all over the body and is accompanied by lachrymation, sneezing. The causes of such a reaction of the body can be washing powder and other detergents, dust, plants, animal hair, etc. An allergic rash differs from an infectious rash in that the child does not have a temperature with it, he does not have general ailments, there is no loss of appetite, drowsiness;
5. Prickly heat . It occurs mainly in infants. It manifests itself in the form of red pimples all over the body, especially in the inguinal zone. The affected areas must be smeared with a special baby cream, air baths more often for the baby and a diaper change;
6. Roseola (erythema infectiosum) is an acute childhood viral disease affecting only children under 2 years of age. Very often, roseola is confused with SARS or rubella . At the beginning of the illness, the baby's temperature rises sharply, which lasts 3-5 days, and after that the child becomes covered with a red-pink rash that disappears in 5-7 days. This is not a dangerous disease, it does not require treatment, and if it occurs, the child should be given only antipyretic drugs;
7. Windmill . This is a common childhood infectious disease that requires treatment. The incubation period of this disease can last from 11 to 21 days. Occurs at any age. It is accompanied by a rash on the skin and mucous membranes in the form of red spots, in the center of which blisters with a yellowish liquid are localized. Accompanied by itching. As the disease progresses, the blisters burst, crusts form, leaving scars if the child has scratched the blister and brought the infection. The disease can also cause fever and headache;
8. Measles is an acute infectious disease that is quite rare due to the use of vaccinations. In addition, this virus is rarely activated in babies under 8 months old, because. they are protected by their mother's immunity. The disease begins with symptoms of a common cold - coughing, lacrimation, sneezing and fever up to 40 C. Then the child develops white spots on the mucous surface of the cheeks, nasal discharge, severe headache, photophobia. Then, within a few days, red spots of various shapes appear on the face, neck, near the head and further throughout the body. The disease is contagious within a week of the onset of the first symptoms. The virus is dangerous with complications such as: meningitis pneumonia development of deafness, brain damage and even death;
9. Scarlet fever is an acute infectious streptococcal disease. Begins with sore throat, high fever, enlarged tonsils , in some cases with plaque. Then a small dotted rash appears on the back, chest, knees, armpits, groin and quickly spreads throughout the body and face. Only the area around the mouth remains white. Throat and tongue become very red. By the end of the disease, peeling of the skin on the toes and hands begins;
10. Rubella is an acute infectious disease . The disease begins with a slight increase in temperature and swollen lymph nodes in the parotid and cervical region. A small rash also appears on the face and behind the ears, and then all over the body. Rubella is very dangerous for pregnant women, and complications can occur in older children and adolescents. In children, the disease proceeds in a fairly mild form;
11. Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord. Rash in meningitis is not the main symptom. However, with this disease, rashes appear on the back of the throat, as well as on the hips, back, buttocks in the form of a red rash of various shapes. Symptoms of meningitis include very high fever, severe headache, vomiting, photophobia, and neck muscle tension. At the slightest suspicion of meningitis, parents should immediately consult a doctor. Timely help with this disease will save the child's life;
12. Streptoderma is a skin infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus. The disease affects, as a rule, the paranasal and perioral region. In the beginning, redness appears around the nose and mouth, then small bubbles with liquid. When they burst, yellow crusts remain. The disease may be accompanied by fever;
13. Herpes is an infectious disease accompanied by the appearance of blisters on the skin and mucous membranes, in children it is most often located on the lips. This disease is extremely rare in newborns, because. they are given maternal immunity. It affects children from 3 to 4 years of age. In addition to a rash, the disease may be accompanied by a sore throat, fever.
There are a lot of skin rashes and diseases in children, they can be very similar, but some are completely harmless to your child's health, while others pose a threat not only to the general condition, but also to the child's life! Do not take risks, and if you have any doubts, if any spots, rashes and other symptoms appear, contact your pediatrician, who, if necessary, will refer you and your child to a pediatric dermatologist, allergist, neurologist or other highly specialized specialist, depending on the nature of the rash and the severity of the skin disease.