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    Information about symptoms, types, prevention, and treatment of rashes

    Updated at January 15th, 2024

    Disclaimer [ENGLISH]


    DisclaimerThis material is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it. It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor does it replace the advice or counsel of a doctor or health care professional. Reference to a specific commercial product or service does not imply endorsement or recommendation of that product or service by CPCMG.


    Why does my child have a rash?

    A rash is a change in your child’s skin.

    • Rashes are the body’s response to exposure. This exposure can be directly on the skin, or a response to something happening inside of the body.
    • They are a physical sign that something is going on with your child’s body.
    • Your child can have a rash for many different reasons. Some rashes are more worrisome than others. Some rashes are contagious, others are not.
    • Here is a list of some common causes of rashes and links to articles where you can learn more about them. 
      • A viral infection has caused the rash.
      • A fungus has caused the rash.
      • Bacteria has caused the rash.
        • (example:  a strep or staph infection)
      • Something your child came in contact with has caused the rash.
      • A bite or sting has caused the rash.
      • Heat has caused the rash.
        • (example:  excessive sweating, fevers, sun exposure)
      • A medication your child is taking has caused the rash.
        • (example:  an antibiotic, a seizure medication)
        • Your child has a condition called eczema or atopic dermatitis  
      • Sunburn has caused the rash .
      • Your child is experiencing stress or trauma stressors  
        • (example:  changes in living situations, loss of loved ones, abuse or neglect, bullying, suffering from anxiety) 

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    What are the symptoms associated with rashes?

    • If you notice a rash that looks purple or bruised your child needs to be seen.
    • You may notice:  
      • Small bumps that might be skin-colored, pink or red.
      • Larger red areas.
      • Dry patches.
      • fluid-filled blisters.
      • Hives – red, itchy bumps that come and go.
      • itchiness
    • Your child may have a fever, chills, body-aches, sore throat, cough, congestion, vomiting or diarrhea.
    • Your child may be more tired or have a decrease in appetite or fluid intake. 

    How can I prevent rashes?

    • Rashes due to illnesses:
      • Encourage your child to wash their hands regularly.
      • Avoid sick contacts.
      • Avoid sharing food, drinks, or toothbrushes.
      • Make sure your child’s vaccines are up-to-date.
      • Encourage good hydration and a well-balanced diet.
    • Rashes due to irritants:
      • Be sure to keep your keep your child’s skin moisturized. We recommend the use of dye-free, fragrance-free products.  
      • Avoid any exposures that are known irritants for your child.
      • Use a sensitive skin soap if your child has a history of skin irritation/atopic dermatitis/eczema.
      • If your child is prone to dry skin/atopic dermatitis/eczema be sure to keep baths to no more than once to twice per week, as baths can dry out the skin.  
      • If your child is in diapers be sure to keep the area as dry as possible.  
    • Discourage your child from scratching or picking at their skin. Picking at the rash will increase the chances of getting a skin infection.  
    • If your child has a known allergy to a medication be sure to let your child’s provider know
    • Use insect repellant when playing outdoors.
    • Be sure to use sunscreen
      • For any new sunscreens, perform a patch test: apply a small amount to the leg and 24 hours later apply again, if no reaction, your child should tolerate it on all areas that need application.
      • Apply 30 minutes before swimming or going outside. Reapply at least every 2 hours. 

    How can I treat rashes?

    • Continue to apply moisturizers to the skin.
    • It is okay to use age-appropriate anti-itch creams like hydrocortisone available over the counter.
    • Be sure to give any medications as prescribed for treatment.  
    • If your child has been exposed to any known allergens, thoroughly clean the skin with soap and water.
    • Cool compresses can help with itchiness.
    • If your child is in diapers apply barrier creams and change diapers regularly.  
    • Try to keep as much skin covered by clothing or bandages as possible to keep your child from picking at their skin.  
    • Sunburn can be treated with aloe vera, and sun avoidance is best until fully recovered.  
    • Encourage your child to drink lots of fluids.
    • Tylenol and ibuprofen can be used if needed for discomfort.
    • Be sure to allow proper rest as needed. 

    When to contact your child’s provider:

    • Your child’s rash looks purple or bruised.
    • Your child’s rash looks infected: it is painful to the touch, there is drainage from the skin.
    • Your child is getting worse.
    • Your child is unable to tolerate fluids.
    • Your child is having trouble breathing.  
    • Medications prescribed don’t seem to be helping.  
    • You think your child needs to be seen. 

    This publication was adapted from information within American Academy of Pediatrics Patient Education Handouts, UpToDate Guidelines and Healthychildren.org

    Reviewed by: TT D.O, AR D.O. | 11/2023