Childhood rashes are common. Most rashes are harmless and go away without treatment. See your GP or call the GP after hours if your child has a rash and it doesn't seem well, or if you are worried.
About skin rashes in children.
It is especially important to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis, see the section below.
Below is also information on some of the more common skin rashes in children.
This guide can give you a better idea of the cause of the rash. But don't trust them to diagnose your baby's condition if he's showing signs of discomfort. always seea family doctoror contact aGeneral practitioner after office hoursfor a correct diagnosis.
- Read more about the causes of skin rashes in babies
cellulitisIt is an infection of the deeper layers of the skin and underlying tissues.
- The affected area is red, painful, swollen, and hot.
- often affects the legs but can appear anywhere on the body
- Your child may also have a fever.
Contactyour family doctoroGeneral practitioner after office hoursif an area of your child's skin becomes red, hot and tender. Do this right away if your child seems unwell. Cellulitis usually responds well to antibiotic treatment.
varicellait is a viral illness that most children get at some point. Children under 10 years of age are the most affected.
- causes a rash of itchy patches that turn into fluid-filled blisters
- scabs form that fall off after a while
- Some children only have a few spots, others have them all over their bodies.
- The patches are most likely to appear on the face, ears and scalp, under the arms, chest and abdomen, and arms and legs.
There is no specific treatment for chickenpox. You can take steps to ease the symptoms. For example, paracetamol can help reduce fever (do not give aspirin to children under 16). Calamine lotions and cooling gels can be used to relieve itching.
Eczema is a long-term condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry, and cracked. The most common type iseczema atopico, which mainly affects children, but can persist into adulthood.
- often develops behind the knees or on the elbows, neck, eyes, and ears
- This is not a serious condition, but if your child later becomes infected with the herpes simplex virus, it can cause the eczema to develop into a rash of small blisters and cause a fever.
Erythema multiformeit is a skin rash (usually mild). It is caused by an allergic reaction to the herpes simplex virus.
About erythema multiforme
- The dots look like targets, with a dark red center and a lighter ring around the outside.
- the hands or feet are usually affected first, followed by the extremities, torso, and face
- Your child may not be feeling well and may develop a fever, which you should be able to treat with over-the-counter medications.
- it can take two to six weeks for them to feel better
Veryour family doctorif your child has a rash and it doesn't seem well.
In rare cases, erythema multiforme can be triggered by a reaction to certain medications, such as an antibiotic or anticonvulsant.
This heavier form is calledStevens Johnson Syndromeand can be life threatening.
Disease Hand Foot Mouth
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a common contagious infection.
upDisease Hand Foot Mouth
- causes canker sores, spots, and blisters on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
- It is most common in young children (particularly children under the age of 10), but it can affect older children and adults as well.
There is no cure for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. It spreads easily, so keep your child away from school or daycare until they get better.
Your child's immune system will fight the virus. It should resolve in about seven to 10 days.
Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids. If they feel uncomfortable eating and swallowing, give them soft foods like mashed potatoes, yogurt, and soup.
Impetigois a common and highly contagious skin infection that causes sores and blisters. It is caused by a bacterial infection. It is usually not serious and often improves within a week of treatment.
There are two types of impetigo: bullous and non-bullous.
About bullous impetigo
- typically affects the trunk (the area of the body between the waist and the neck)
- causes fluid-filled blisters that break after a few days, leaving a yellow scab
About non-bullous impetigo
- usually affects the skin around the nose and mouth
- causes sores that break quickly, leaving a yellowish-brown scab
Veryour family doctorif you think your child may have impetigo. When it comes to impetigo, antibiotics are usually prescribed. This is an effective treatment that clears up the infection.
Keratosis pilaris ("chicken skin")
keratosis pilarisIt is a common and harmless skin disease.
About keratosis pilaris
- The skin on the back of the upper arms becomes rough and bumpy, as if covered in permanent goosebumps.
- sometimes the buttocks, thighs, forearms, and upper back may also be affected
- typically begins in childhood and worsens during adolescence
- some people find that it improves thereafter and may even disappear in adulthood
Keratosis pilaris is not curable.
Without treatment, it often gets better on its own.
There are some steps you can take to improve your child's rash. This includes using non-soap cleansers instead of soap and emollients to keep skin hydrated.
your family doctoroPharmacistcan recommend a suitable cream for you.
measlesIt is a highly contagious viral disease that most commonly affects young children. It is now rare in Northern Ireland due to its effectiveness.Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination program.with high vaccination rates.
- measles rash are reddish-brown patches
- It usually starts on the face, head, or upper neck and then spreads to the rest of the body.
- Your child may also have a fever and cold-like symptoms.
Phone callyour family doctorSurgery if you think your child has measles. Better to call before visiting. This is because the surgery may need to take precautions to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to other people.
Measles usually clears up in about 7 to 10 days without causing further problems.ParacetamoloIbuprofenit can be used to relieve fever and pain (do not give aspirin to children under 16 years of age).
Also, make sure your child drinks plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Molluscum contagiosumit is a viral skin infection.
Via molusco contagioso
- causes groups of small, firm, raised patches to form on the skin
- often affects young children ages one to five who become infected after close physical contact with another infected child
- it is usually painless, although some children may experience some itching
- usually resolves within 18 months without the need for treatment
Molluscum contagiosum is highly contagious. Most adults are resistant to the virus. This means that they are unlikely to catch it if they come in contact with it.
pityriasis rosadait is a fairly common skin condition.
About pityriasis rosea
- causes a temporary rash of red, scaly, raised patches on the body
- most cases occur in older children and young adults (10 to 35 years).
- the rash can be very itchy
- In most cases, it goes away without treatment within two to 12 weeks.
- In rare cases, it can last up to five months.
Emollients, steroid creams, and antihistamines may be used to relieve itching. The rash does not usually leave scars. The skin can sometimes become discolored afterwards.
Hitzepickel (Hitzeausschlag)also known as miliaria.
About prickly heat (heat rash)
- is an itchy rash with small raised red spots that causes a stinging or tingling sensation on the skin
- It occurs when sweat glands in the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) become blocked.
- You can get a heat rash anywhere on your body, but it usually affects the face, neck, back, chest, or thighs.
- Babies can sometimes get a prickly heat rash when they sweat more than normal, for example when it's hot and humid or when they're overdressed.
It is not a serious condition and rarely requires specific treatment.
soriasisit is a long-term (chronic) skin condition.
- this causes red, scaly, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales
- The severity of psoriasis varies greatly from person to person: for some people it's just a minor irritation, but for others it can have a major impact on their quality of life.
Psoriasis is not curable.
There are a number of treatments that are available without a prescription.your family doctor, which can help improve the symptoms and appearance of skin tags. Topical corticosteroids include creams and ointments that can be applied to the skin.
hadIt is a highly contagious fungal infection of the skin.
about la tiña
- causes a ring-shaped red or silver patch on the skin that may be scaly, inflamed, or itchy
- It often affects the arms and legs, but it can appear almost anywhere on the body.
Other similar fungal infections can affect the scalp, feet, groin, and nails.
Ringworm is usually easily treated with antifungal medications. These are available at a pharmacy.your pharmacistif you need treatment advice.
Scalp dandruff can cause dandruff and patches of hair loss.
sarnaIt is a contagious skin disease that is very itchy.
- It is caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin.
- In children, scabies is usually spread through prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an infected adult or child, such as playing, fighting, or hugging.
- Mites like warm spots like skin folds, between fingers, under fingernails, or around the creases of the buttocks.
- mites leave small red spots that are often found on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet
- Blisters on the soles of the feet are common in babies.
Veryour family doctorif you think your child has scabies. It is usually not a serious condition, but it does need treatment. Your GP will prescribe a lotion or cream.
scarlet feverIt is a highly contagious bacterial infection.
About scarlet fever
- usually affects children between the ages of two and eight
- causes a characteristic pinkish-red rash that feels like sandpaper and can be itchy
- often starts with aSore throat, fever, etcheadache, and the rash develops two to five days after infection
- The rash usually appears on the chest and abdomen before spreading to other areas of the body, such as the ears and neck.
- sometimes a white coating can form on the tongue, which will fall off after a few days, leaving the tongue red and swollen; this is known as "strawberry tongue".
Scarlet fever usually goes away after about a week. But lookyour family doctorif you think your child may have it. Your GP will prescribe oneAntibioticto treat it
Slapped wake up syndrome
Slapped wake up syndromeis a viral infection commonly found in children between the ages of six and ten.
About Wake Slapped Syndrome
- causes a characteristic bright red rash on both cheeks
- this may sound alarming but usually goes away on its own within one to three weeks
Unless your child is not feeling well, they do not need to be absent from school.
Once the rash appears, the infection is no longer contagious. It's a good idea to tell your child's school about the infection.
Urticariaalso known as hives, welts, welts, or hives.
- is a raised, itchy rash that may affect one part of the body or spread to large areas
- It is a common skin reaction that often affects children.
- It occurs when a trigger causes high levels of histamine and other chemical messengers to be released in the skin.
- These substances cause the blood vessels in the skin to open up, causing redness or pink discoloration, swelling, and itching.
There are many potential triggers for hives, including allergens like food or latex, irritants like nettles, medications, and physical factors like heat or exercise. Sometimes a cause cannot be identified.
The rash is usually short-lived and mild. It can often be controlled with antihistamines. Ask your pharmacist. Hives can be one of the first symptoms of a severe allergic reaction known asanaphylaxis.
Call 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance if you or someone else has anaphylaxis.
MeningitisIt is an infection of the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord (meninges).
- The classic skin rash associated with meningitis usually looks like small red pinpricks at first.
- then it spreads rapidly over the body, turning into red or purple spots that do not fade when a glass is passed over them (this does not always happen)
Meningitis can be serious if it is not treated quickly.
Call 999 for an ambulance or go to the nearest emergency room if you think you or your child may be seriously ill.
Other useful links
- How to use your health services
The information on this page has been adapted from the original content of the NHS website.
For more information, seeTerms and Conditions.
What does a viral rash look like on a child? ›
Viral rashes usually have small pink spots. They occur on both sides of the chest, stomach and back. Your child may also have a fever with some diarrhea or cold symptoms. They last 2 or 3 days.When should I be concerned about my child's rash? ›
Consult your child's doctor if: A rash or lesion affects the eyes. Blue, red or purple dots appear in the affected area. The lesion is crusty, blistering or oozing.What are the five childhood rashes? ›
- Measles or rubeola.
- Varicella (or chickenpox)
- Fifth disease.
Rashes are very common in children and babies. Most rashes are caused by common viral infections, and are nothing to be worried about. Usually, rashes are harmless and will go away on their own. Sometimes different viruses can cause rashes that look the same, while some viruses cause rashes that look quite unique.What does an allergy rash look like on a child? ›
Contact allergy rashes are bumpy and pink, sometimes flaky and often very itchy. The first step in treating them is to look for possible causes. If it was a product that you think caused the allergy, stop using it.What does a meningitis rash look like on a child? ›
The rash usually starts as small, red pinpricks before spreading quickly and turning into red or purple blotches. It does not fade if you press the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin.
If your rash is made up of blisters, or if the rash turns into open sores, it could be the result of an allergic reaction, a reaction to medication, or an internal cause. Seek medical attention if a blistering rash affects the skin around your eyes, multiple areas in your mouth, or your genitals. The rash is painful.What virus causes rash in kids? ›
The most common childhood viral exanthems include chickenpox (varicella), fifth disease, measles (rubeola), roseola, and rubella (German measles).What does a viral rash look like? ›
The characteristics of viral rashes can vary greatly. However, most look like splotchy red spots on lighter skin or purplish spots on darker skin. These spots might come on suddenly or appear gradually over several days. They can also appear in a small section or cover multiple areas.Should I call the doctor if my child has a rash? ›
Contact your doctor immediately if your child has the following: A rash that doesn't get better after a few days or with over-the counter treatment. Fever with a rash. Painful urination with a rash.
What does a concerning rash look like? ›
A rash that looks like large purple patches or dark bruises can be a sign of a serious condition. It could be a warning sign of an infection spreading throughout your body or of a blood clotting problem. It could also indicate a condition called vasculitis that causes your blood vessels to become inflamed.What are the 6 viral rashes of childhood? ›
Viral exanthems of childhood include varicella; hand-foot-mouth disease; roseola infantum; measles; rubella; and erythema infectiosum. Alright, now one of the most common viral exanthems is varicella, more commonly referred to as chickenpox.What viral illness causes rash? ›
Viruses that commonly cause exanthem rash include: Chickenpox (varicella-zoster virus). COVID-19 (coronavirus). Fifth disease (parvovirus B19).What rash is contagious in kids? ›
Molluscum contagiosum is a skin rash caused by a virus. The rash has small clear or flesh-colored bumps. The bumps can spread from one part of the body to another or from person to person. For most kids, the rash goes away on its own in 6–12 months, but can take longer.Why would a rash just appear? ›
The main cause is dermatitis, which is when your skin reacts to allergens or irritants. Bacteria, viruses, allergens and conditions including eczema, hives, and psoriasis can be the source of skin rashes. A variety of treatments can relieve your symptoms and get rid of the rash.What rashes appear suddenly? ›
Hives: Sudden, Itchy Skin Bumps and Welts
Urticaria, also known as hives, is a skin rash that comes on suddenly and causes pale pink or red, itchy welts, which sometimes burn or sting. This skin condition can occur anywhere on the skin. Up to 20 percent of people may experience hives at least once in their lifetime.
Rashes can happen for many reasons, including skin infections, allergies, and medications. They can also result from bacterial, fungal, viral, or parasitic infections and other diseases.How do you tell if a rash is an allergy? ›
- Itchiness. Most rashes are itchy, including those caused by food allergies and allergic contact dermatitis. ...
- Dryness. ...
- Skin discoloration. ...
- Swelling. ...
- Hives. ...
Hives (also known as urticaria) are raised itchy bumps. Typically hives appear reddish, and will “blanch” (or turn white) in the center when pressed. Contact dermatitis is typically caused by exposure to an allergen or irritant.What kind of rash does strep cause? ›
The strep bacteria make a toxin (poison) that causes a bright red, bumpy rash. The rash spreads over most of the body and is what gives scarlet fever (also known as scarlatina) its name. It often looks like a bad sunburn with fine bumps that may feel rough like sandpaper, and it can itch.
What does meningococcal rash look like? ›
THE PRESENCE OF PINK, REDDISH, AND PURPLE MARKS
A meningococcal rash is caused by bleeding under the skin. It can start as pink OR reddish pinprick-sized lesions, progressing to more prominent purple bruise-like markings as the rash spreads and further bleeding occurs (i.e. haemorrhages).
A red rash appears on the arms and legs and spreads very quickly over the body including the eyes and nose. In addition, the affected individuals blood pressure may drop dangerously, the fever may drop dramatically, and they may go into shock. Without immediate medical treatment this disorder can be life-threatening.What kind of rashes are serious? ›
- Pemphigus vulgaris (PV)
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS)
- Toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN)
- Toxic shock syndrome (TSS)
- Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome (SSS)
Hydrocortisone cream (1%) is available without a prescription and may soothe many rashes. Stronger cortisone creams are available with a prescription. If you have eczema, apply moisturizers over your skin. Try oatmeal bath products, available at drugstores, to relieve symptoms of eczema or psoriasis.How do you know if a rash is harmless? ›
Rashes in adults usually aren't anything to worry about. However, prompt medical attention is needed if a rash is accompanied by fever, difficulty breathing, pain, blistering, bruising, or swelling. The same is true if a rash spreads quickly, covers the entire body, or forms a circular ring.Can my child get a rash with Covid? ›
Skin lesions. “COVID toes” or chilblain-like lesions, are one of several skin lesions seen in COVID-19. These skin lesions are specific rash and are usually seen in children or young people.Does RSV have a rash? ›
An RSV rash can appear as bumps, blotches, or spots on the skin. It can start anywhere on the body and may spread. While an RSV rash may appear alarming, most viral rashes are harmless and go away on their own within a few days.”How do you know if a rash is contagious? ›
There are many types of skin rashes, some are contagious and some are not. Most of those that are contagious are caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Rashes caused by allergic reactions, physical trauma or environmental irritants are not contagious.What is a bacterial rash? ›
Bacterial skin infections often begin as small, red bumps that slowly increase in size. Some bacterial infections are mild and easily treated with topical antibiotics, but other infections require an oral antibiotic. Different types of bacterial skin infections include: cellulitis.What skin rashes are contagious? ›
- Impetigo. 1/10. Young kids often get this bacterial infection on their face and hands in the summer. ...
- Ringworm. 2/10. It's not a worm at all. ...
- Molluscum Contagiosum. 3/10. ...
- MRSA. 4/10. ...
- Chickenpox and Shingles. 5/10. ...
- Folliculitis. 6/10. ...
- Cold Sores. 7/10. ...
- Scabies. 8/10.
What does scarlet fever rash look like? ›
The rash usually begins as small, flat blotches that slowly become fine bumps that feel like sandpaper. Although the cheeks might look flushed (rosy), there may be a pale area around the mouth. Underarm, elbow, and groin skin creases may become brighter red than the rest of the rash.Should I keep my child home if they have a rash? ›
Your child should also stay home sick from child care if they have these symptoms: Signs of severe illness such as being unresponsive, irritable, crying more than usual, is having difficulty breathing, or has a quickly spreading rash.Should I keep my child off school with a rash? ›
Do not send a child to school with an unexplained rash that may be infectious, until you have consulted your doctor or they are better. Children can attend school with a mild cold and cough.What are the different types of skin rashes? ›
- Contact dermatitis.
- Drug rash.
- Heat rash (miliaria)
- Ringworm of the body (tinea corporis)
- Shingles (herpes zoster)
- Swimmer's itch (cercarial dermatitis)
- Skin redness.
- Flaking skin.
- Dry, scaly, or crusted skin that can become thick and leathery from scratching.
- Small, fluid-filled blisters that may ooze when scratched.
- Infection of the areas of broken skin.
Rash: Pink, small, flat spots on the chest and stomach. Rash is the same on both sides of the body. Then may spread to the face and arms. Classic feature: 3 to 5 days of high fever without a rash or other symptoms.How long is a child contagious with a viral rash? ›
The length of time you're contagious varies depending on the infection. For many of these viruses, your child will be contagious a few days before the rash even develops. They'll be considered contagious for a few days afterward or until the rash disappears.Is a rash the end of a virus? ›
“The rash arrives toward the end of infection and lasts a couple days. It's the body's reaction to the virus and doesn't respond to much medication, including steroids.What are the six rashes of childhood? ›
Viral exanthems of childhood include varicella; hand-foot-mouth disease; roseola infantum; measles; rubella; and erythema infectiosum.What is a widespread rash usually on a child? ›
Widespread means the rash occurs on larger areas. Examples are both legs or the entire back. Widespread can also mean on most of the body surface.
Can pediatric rashes have no fever? ›
Most causes of viral rashes without fever are not serious and resolve within a few days to a week. Parents or caregivers should consult a healthcare professional if a toddler has a rash that lasts longer than a week or if they develop new or worsening symptoms.What diseases start with rashes? ›
- Chickenpox (varicella-zoster virus).
- COVID-19 (coronavirus).
- Fifth disease (parvovirus B19).
- Hand, foot and mouth disease (coxsackievirus A16).
- Measles (morbillivirus).
- Roseola (human herpesvirus 6).
- Rubella (rubella virus).
- The rash is all over your body. ...
- You have a fever with the rash. ...
- The rash is sudden and spreads rapidly. ...
- The rash begins to blister. ...
- The rash is painful. ...
- The rash is infected.
Rash: Any rash illness and fever should be checked by a health care provider. Exclude until the rash subsides or until a healthcare provider has determined it is not infectious.How do you treat a skin rash on a child? ›
Cool (not hot) baths with oatmeal will ease an itchy rash, and, after your child's bath, apply calamine lotion or a baking soda solution to the rash. For localized itchy rashes, apply 1% hydrocortisone cream if the rash is not a result of fungus, chicken pox, or bacterial infection.What rashes should you be worried about? ›
Rashes in adults usually aren't anything to worry about. However, prompt medical attention is needed if a rash is accompanied by fever, difficulty breathing, pain, blistering, bruising, or swelling. The same is true if a rash spreads quickly, covers the entire body, or forms a circular ring.