Common Skin Rashes In Children – Types, Causes & Remedies

Skin Rashes In Children

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“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
―Elizabeth Stone

Few quotes can sum up the experience of motherhood better than the one by Elizabeth Stone. Once you become a mom, worrying is like breathing. Every little sneeze, fall, ache, and pain will make you breathless with worry. While you may learn to reign in the worry a bit, but it will never go away.

A child’s fragility and weak immune system make him susceptible to many illnesses! But, fortunately, with a little knowledge and a lot of practice, you’ll soon learn to distinguish things you should worry about and things you can let pass. Take, for instance, rashes.

Rashes are common among children. But are they something to worry about? Now, that is an important question. The fact is that most rashes are harmless, but some can indicate serious medical conditions. And, it thus becomes important to understand the difference between the various kinds of rashes your little one may experience during childhood. So, read on and learn more about common skin rashes in children below.

[ Read: What Causes Hives In Children ]

All About Skin Rashes In Children:

A rash is the skin’s reaction to some irritant. Several conditions, like drug reactions, infections, or allergic reactions, can lead to rashes. A rash may be difficult to diagnose by itself. However, if you consider the other symptoms, it may be possible to understand the cause of a particular kind of skin rash in children and seek the right treatment.

Here is a comprehensive list of rashes your child may experience. Go through it to understand your little one’s health better!

1. Fungal and Parasitic Rashes:

Fungal and parasitic rashes are common among children. No matter how hard you try, it ‘s hard to get a child to maintain proper hygiene. This lack of hygiene can cause fungal and parasitic infections among children.

Some of the major rashes under this category include:

1. Scabies:

So you thought scabies only affected dogs? You’ve got another think coming!

A mite with a fancy name (Sarcoptes scabiei) causes scabies in children and adults alike. The mite makes its home beneath the top layer of the skin where it lays eggs. It can survive several days in clothes, beddings, and dust.

Scabies is spread by close bodily contact and can take four to six weeks following initial exposure to develop symptoms.

Symptoms Of Scabies:

The main symptoms of scabies include:

  • A rash is the first telltale sign of scabies. Look for a rash between the fingers, in the armpits, inner wrists and arms.
  • During the initial days of the infection, the rashes are rather discreet and appear as tiny blisters.
  • The scabies rash tends to be itchy, especially at night and after baths.

Treating Scabies:

Fortunately, treating scabies is easy. Here are some treatment options:

  1. If you notice your child has an itchy rash that does not go away in two or three days, go to your doctor.
  1. Your doctor may prescribe medications to kill the mites and control the rash outbreak.
  1. When your child has scabies, the chances are high that other members of the family will get it too.
  1. It is why the scabies treatment is offered to the entire family.
  1. It may take as long as four weeks for all the symptoms of scabies to go away.
  1. Once your child gets better, make sure to wash out all his clothing and bedding in hot water. You should also vacuum the mattresses.

[ Read: Treat Scars In Children ]

2. Ringworm:

A fungal infection, ringworm has several different forms. The infection is differentiated by its location – scalp or body – and is treated accordingly. The infection spreads from friends or pets.

Symptoms Of Ringworm:

Here are the primary symptoms of a ringworm infection:

  • When the infection affects the body, it begins with a red, scaly oval lesion that expands with time.
  • As the infection spreads, the rash becomes bigger, and the border remains red and puffy while the skin in the middle looks healthy.
  • Your child may experience a slight itch with a ringworm infection (at the rash site).
  • When the infection affects the scalp, it begins as a round or oval patch without hair.
  • The affected area may become inflamed, and you may notice some swelling.
  • The rash may ooze too.

Treating Ringworm:

Wondering how to get rid of this itchy rash? Check out the points below!

  1. The ringworm infection on the body is easily treated with topical medication.
  1. Do not self-medicate. Consult your doctor if you believe your child has ringworm.
  1. The infection on scalp requires a more comprehensive medical intervention such as oral medication.
  1. The primary focus should be on hygiene if you want to prevent or treat the ringworm infection.

3. Athlete’s Foot:

Another fungal infection that can affect your child is Athlete’s foot. Its medical term is tinea pedis, and it is a common problem among teens and older children.

Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot:

Here are some clear signs to identify Athlete’s foot among children:

  • The most visible symptom of athlete’s foot is a very itchy rash that occurs between the toes.
  • In toddlers, a rash between the toes is more likely due to excessive dampness.

Treating Athlete’s Foot:

Some options for treating athlete’s foot are as follows:

  1. Most cases of Athlete’s foot can be treated at home with some simple over the counter medications.
  1. But to make sure that your child does not have some other infection, take him to the doctor.
  1. One important way to prevent and treat athlete’s foot is by keeping the feet dry.
  1. Let your child wear open toe sandals instead of shoes, especially in summers.

[ Read: Heat Rashes In Children ]

2. Bacterial Rashes:

The second major cause of common childhood skin rashes is bacterial. Several bacterial infections and diseases can cause rashes, among other symptoms.

Some of the major causes of skin rashes in children include:

1. Impetigo:

A superficial skin infection, Impetigo is caused by the streptococcal or staphylococcal bacteria. Most cases of this bacterial infection occur during summers. Impetigo is contagious and can spread quickly to other parts of your child’s body through scratching. The infection spreads through bodily contact.

Symptoms Of Impetigo:

Some of the common symptoms of impetigo rash include:

  • The impetigo rash is most often found around the nose and mouth.
  • The rash starts off as small blisters.
  • Soon, these blisters rupture, leading to red, open patches on the skin.
  • Another telltale sign of impetigo is a honey colored crust on the rashes.
  • Like most other rashes, impetigo rashes too are itchy.

Treating Impetigo:

Here are some common treatment options for impetigo:

  1. Most cases of impetigo can be treated with topical or oral antibiotics. Talk to your doctor before you self-medicate.
  1. You can ask your doctor to prescribe an anti-itch medication to give your child some relief.

2. Scarlet Fever:

Scarlet fever is a strep throat infection that manifests with a rash. The Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria causes this often difficult health issue. The infection is very contagious and most often targets school going kids during winters and early spring. Though the rash in itself does not cause any serious health complications, the strep throat infection requires prompt medical attention.

Symptoms Of Scarlet Fever:

The typical symptoms of scarlet fever include:

  • Scarlet fever begins with a sudden onset of a sore throat.
  • A moderate fever is also present during the first few days of the infection.
  • Children also complain of headaches and stomach upset.
  • A swollen lymph node is also a clear sign of scarlet fever.
  • The symptoms last for a couple of days.
  • Next comes a rash that develops all over the body, sparing the hands and sole. The rash is red with a sandpaper like texture.
  • One of the easiest ways to identify scarlet fever is to look at your child’s mouth. Does he have a flushed look with a little bit of normal skin around the mouth? That’s scarlet fever!

Treating Scarlet Fever:

It is important to go to the doctor as soon as possible because a strep infection, if not treated on time, can cause serious health issues like rheumatic fever.

Here’s how your doctor may deal with a case of scarlet fever:

  1. A full course of antibiotics is the most important way to treat this bacterial infection.
  1. You can give your kid some pain relievers to provide relief from a sore throat.
  1. Gargling with warm water can also provide relief.
  1. Your doctor may prescribe fever reducers to control your kid’s fever.

[ Read: Scarlet Fever In Children ]

3. Viral Rashes:

Viruses are tiny (microscopic, actually!) but can be the cause of many serious health problems. Many Viral diseases can cause a rash among children

1. Chickenpox:

There was a time when chickenpox was rather common among children. Thankfully, with the advent of the chicken pox vaccination, the number cases of the viral infection is going down.

A virus, called varicella-zoster, causes chickenpox among children and adults alike.

Symptoms Of Chickenpox:

  • Not a severe disease, chickenpox usually resolves in two or so weeks. But while it lasts, it can be very uncomfortable.
  • Chickenpox begins with flu-like symptoms – fever, sore throat, and tiredness.
  • The first sign that your child does not have a cold but something more serious is the rash that appears within a day.
  • The rash first appears on the head and body then spreads to the arms and legs.
  • The rash is itchy, and that is an understatement!
  • In the beginning, the rash appears as a cluster of small, red blisters.
  • In a day or two, the blisters rupture.
  • After the rupture, a lesion appears with a crusty scab, which falls off in two to three days.

Treating Chickenpox:

Here are some methods to treat chickenpox:

  1. Chickenpox is very contagious. So it is important to keep your infected child at home till all the lesions are gone or crusted over.
  1. There is no way to cure chickenpox. The only thing you can do is to provide your child with some relief from the symptoms.
  1. It is important to vaccinate your child against this uncomfortable disease. Talk to your doctor about the chickenpox vaccination.
  1. Your doctor can prescribe medication to provide relief from the itching, fever, and pain.
  1. If you notice your child with red, inflamed eyes, go to the doctor immediately as chickenpox can sometimes affect the cornea of the eye.

[ Read: Chickenpox In Children ]

2. Measles:

Fortunately, cases of measles these days are rare, thanks to a very effective vaccination program. But measles is still a hard reality among the unvaccinated population.

The paramyxovirus causes measles, and it is a very contagious infection.

Symptoms Of Measles:

Some of the symptoms of measles include:

  • Measles too begins with flu-like symptoms.
  • Nasal congestion, cough, red eyes, and moderate fever are the initial symptoms of measles.
  • Children with measles also look sick, with a lack of appetite.
  • By the third or fifth day, the fever shoots up, and the child develops a purple-red rash on the face.
  • The rash slowly spreads to the other parts of the body, appearing on the feet last.
  • As the rash begins to fade, it first leaves the face and then slowly the torso and finally the feet.

Treating Measles:

The treatment measures for measles include:

  1. Just like chickenpox, measles cannot be treated.
  1. With measles, prevention is better than cure because the measles outbreak can cause more serious complications like an ear infection, pneumonia, bronchitis, encephalitis, and low platelet count in some cases. Fortunately, with the measles vaccine, you can now prevent measles altogether.
  1. Children with measles are rather uncomfortable, so you can take steps to provide relief from the cumbersome symptoms.
  1. You can use fever reducing medication to keep your child’s fever under control.
  1. These medications can also provide relief from aches and pains.
  1. If your child is feeling itchy, you can ask your doctor to prescribe some anti-itch medication.

[ Read: Measles In Children ]


Rubella is quite similar to measles but much milder in comparison. The rubivirus causes the disease among children and adults alike. The virus spreads via nasal and oral secretions.

Symptoms Of Rubella:

The common symptoms of rubella include:

  • One of the first symptoms of rubella is the little pink or red rash that develop on the face and then spread to the lower body.
  • Unlike measles, the rubella rash can be itchy.
  • Other symptoms like a mild fever, headache, and an aching body can also be present.

Treating Rubella:

The treatment measures for rubella include:

  1. You can prevent Rubella with the timely administration of the MMR vaccination.
  1. If your child does get the infection, you’ll have to wait for it to run its course, as there is no cure for the disease.
  1. You can offer your child Tylenol or other fever-reducing medication.
  1. You can also ask your doctor to prescribe anti-itch creams.

4. Fifth Disease:

Fifth Disease is caused by the parvovirus B19. Mostly a winter infection, cases of the disease can also occur during spring.

Symptoms Of Fifth Disease:

The symptoms typically include:

  • Fifth Disease too starts with flu-like symptoms.
  • Children with the infection experience nasal congestion, cough, headache, sore throat, and a low-grade fever.
  • The characteristic rash appears after the flu-like symptoms vanish.
  • By the time the rash appears, your child is no longer contagious and can attend school.
  • The rash first appears as bright red on the cheeks, which fades in a day or two.
  • This is followed by a red rash that appears all over the body.
  • One interesting aspect of this unusual rash is that it becomes almost invisible when the skin is cool, but reappears with a warm bath or some activity.

Treating Fifth Disease:

Fifth disease is not a serious cause for concern, but if a child has health issues like sickle cell anemia, leukemia or HIV/AIDS, the mild disease can prove to be life-threatening.

  1. The best you can do if your child has the fifth disease is offer comfort.
  1. Offer fever-reducing medication to provide relief from fever and pain.

[ Read: Fifth Disease In Kids ]

5. Enteroviruses:

Enteroviruses are the number one cause of fever and rash among children. The virus causes common childhood infections like the hand, foot, and mouth disease and herpangina. Unlike the other viral infections mentioned above, the ones caused by enteroviruses occur during summer and autumn.

Symptoms Of Enteroviruses Infections:

Some common symptoms include:

  • In hand, foot, and mouth disease, kids develop a mild fever that lasts for a couple of days.
  • This is followed by a rash that appears on the mouth, palms, and soles.
  • The rash has a blister-like appearance.
  • Apart from these symptoms, children also experience decreased appetite and fatigue.
  • The other disease caused by enteroviruses, Herpangina, comes with a fever, headache, and sore throat.
  • Kids with this illness also experience painful blisters at the back of the mouth.

Treating Enteroviruses Infections:

The line of treatment typically followed for viral skin rash in children includes:

  1. Like other viral infection, these diseases too cannot be cured.
  1. All you can do is provide relief from the symptoms.
  1. Offer Tylenol or Advil for the fever and other related symptoms.
  1. Eating can be a painful experience for children with these diseases. You can give your child a diet of soft and cold items, including ice-cream.

[ Read: Fungal Infections In Children ]

When To See The Doctor?

As mentioned before, you should consult a doctor if your child experiences any of the symptoms we mention above. But sometimes, when consulting a doctor is not enough, what you need is a trip to the ER!

And, although rare, some diseases that cause a rash can prove fatal. So, it is important to watch your child’s symptoms closely. Some of the diseases that can prove to be dangerous include:

1. Meningococcemia:

Meningococcemia is a deadly disease caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitides. It is primarily a winter disease and affects children younger than two years of age.

Symptoms Of Meningococcemia:

  • Cases of this fatal disease can mimic other infections, so it is vital to look out for some specific symptoms.
  • Children with meningococcemia have a fever and a petechial rash.
  • A petechial rash is never a good thing.
  • Petechiae are broken capillaries in the skin that cause flat red dots that do not blanche when pressure is applied to the skin.
  • The rash can quickly change and look like large bruises and cover the entire body.
  • Children also experience a headache, congestion, nausea, vomiting, and body ache.
  • In extreme cases, children become delirious and go into a coma.

Treating Meningococcemia:

  1. If you ever notice a petechial rash, don’t wait for any other symptom, just rush to the doctor, or better still, the ER.
  1. The treatment for meningococcemia involves extensive usage of antibiotics.

2. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF):

Who knew that a small tick could cause such a severe disease? RMSF is spread by tick bites and can prove to be a serious health concern.

Symptoms Of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever:

  • The initial symptoms of RMSF are non-specific and include high fever, chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and fatigue.
  • By the second or fifth day, children may develop a rash.
  • The rash starts off as red spots on the wrists and ankles.
  • Soon, the rash spreads to the trunk.
  • Initially, the rash appears flat and red. It also blanches on pressure.
  • But later, the rash tends to become raised with a non-blanching red center.
  • The RMSF rash does not affect the face.

TreatingRocky Mountain Spotted Fever:

  1. It is important to remember that a small percentage of children with RMSF do no develop a rash. So, if your child exhibits other symptoms, go to the doctor.
  1. RMSF is treated with antibiotics, fever reducers, and painkillers.

3. Lyme Disease:

Lyme disease is spread by deer tick bites and is a common problem in North America and Europe.

Symptoms Of Lyme Disease:

  • Lyme disease starts with flu-like symptoms including a mild fever, chills, body ache and headache.
  • A rash then appears, days after the initial onset of symptoms.
  • The rash appears as a small red tender nodule.
  • The nodule soon decreases in size but is surrounded by an ever-growing red ring.
  • Other symptoms of Lyme’s disease include joint aches, neck pain, and stiffness.

Treating Lyme Disease:

  1. Lyme’s disease is treated with a course of antibiotics.
  1. Antibiotics such as doxycycline, amoxicillin, or cefuroxime axetil are commonly used to treat Lyme’s disease.

[ Read: Lyme Disease In Children ]

4. Kawasaki Disease:

There is no known cause for Kawasaki Disease (also called mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome or MCLNS). But researchers suspect that the disease is caused either by bacteria or a virus. It can cause serious heart issues among children if not treated on time. Children of Japanese origin are more likely to fall prey to the disease.

Symptoms Of Kawasaki Disease:

  • A fever that refuses to go away even after five days is often the first sign of Kawasaki disease.
  • Redness in the eyes is also a common symptom.
  • Children with the disease also experience swollen lymph nodes on the neck as well as red and swollen fingers and toes.
  • Red throat, tongue, and lips are also present in children suffering from the disease.
  • Finally, a red, flat raised rash covers the hands and feet.

Treating Kawasaki Disease:

Kawasaki disease can cause heart problems in children and requires prompt medical attention.

  1. Aspirin is often the first level of treatment for children suffering from Kawasaki disease. But never give your child aspirin if he is younger than 16 years old without consulting your doctor.
  1. Intravenous immunoglobulin is also used to treat the disease.
  1. Corticosteroids (a kind of a hormone) are also used to treat Kawasaki disease.

5. Toxic Shock Syndrome:

Another serious health condition that comes with a rash is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). TSS is a life-threatening disease and is caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Staph aureus or Streptococcus. It is one disease that warrants an immediate trip to the ER.

Symptoms Of Toxic Shock Syndrome:

  • A sudden high fever along with chills, sore throat, body aches are the initial symptoms of TSS.
  • Other symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and multiple organ failures.
  • A rash is one of the first symptoms to make an appearance in patients with TSS.
  • The rash has a sunburn-like appearance.

Treating Toxic Shock Syndrome:

TSS is a life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical intervention. Some of the treatment options for treating TSS includes:

  1. An antibiotic is the first line of treatment when it comes to TSS.
  1. Children who have developed kidney issues due to TSS may require dialysis.
  1. Medication for controlling low blood pressure is also used.
  1. In extreme cases, children may also need intravenous gamma globulin as treatment.

[ Read: Ringworm In Children ]

Home Remedies For Treating Rashes In Children:

As we mention above, some rashes are dangerous and a result of life-threatening diseases. These cases require medical help, pronto. But in other instances, you can treat the rashes at home, using some easy tips. These tips are especially useful in cases of fungal and parasitic infections.

Here are some home remedies for treating mild rashes at home:

  1. Use chamomile tea to wash the affected area. Chamomile tea provides soothing relief from itching and also works as an antifungal agent.
  1. You can also try applying olive oil to the rash. Olive oil works as a natural cleanser and can provide immediate treatment for skin rashes in children.
  1. Try using a mixture of cod liver oil and vitamin E to eliminate fungal rashes.
  1. Grind some holy basil leaves and combine it with 1 tbsp olive oil, two garlic cloves, a little salt, and pepper. Spread this mixture over the rash for effective treatment.
  1. Now will be a great time to use that oatmeal lying in your pantry! Give your child an oatmeal bath for quick relief from rashes. Just add a cup of oatmeal into your kid’s bathwater.
  1. You can also use Vitamin C to treat rashes and other allergic reactions.
  1. An excellent way to treat rashes that are the result of allergies is apple cider vinegar and raw honey. Consuming one tbsp of ACV and honey mixture three times a day can do magic.
  1. Mix 1 tbsp poppy seeds with one tsp water and one tsp lime juice. Now apply this mixture to the rashes.

A rash can be benign, or it can be a symptom of a life-threatening disease. It is important to watch the rash and identify other accompanying symptoms to understand how serious the matter may be. Do you know of any other home remedies for treating common rashes? Share them with us.

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