Itchy red spots? A red rash on their tummy? What can it be? And most importantly, how can you help your little one feel better fast?
Most children will have a rash at some point during their early years. If you’re concerned, make an appointment with a pediatrician or through the Babylon Health app. You can book a Babylon Video Appointment 24/7 to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendation.
There are many common types of rashes in children. Here are the symptoms of eight common causes:
1. Diaper rash — diaper rash is the most common skin problem in babies and young children. The skin may look red, raw, scalded or burned. At the first sign, change diapers more often, carefully clean the skin and pat dry, and apply over-the-counter ointments to the area. With care, the rash usually clears up within two to three days but if it's not improving or getting worse, make sure to speak to a doctor.
2. Viral exanthem — a viral exanthem is a rash that accompanies a viral infection. It could look like spots, bumps or blotches. The rash may or may not itch. It may start on your child’s face, belly or back. Your child might have other viral symptoms like body aches, fever or a sore throat. Your pediatrician might recommend over-the-counter lotions or creams to reduce itchiness.
3. Eczema — symptoms include dry skin and an itchy, red, raised rash. Eczema an be caused by lots of different things, including (but not only!) allergens, harsh soaps, temperature changes and even stress. The rash may appear on your child’s face, scalp, neck, arms and legs. Your pediatrician may recommend medications and gentle skin care. In some cases, allergy testing can reveal an allergen that can be removed from your child’s diet or environment but we advise doing this under professional supervision.
4. Heat rash — also called prickly heat, heat rash may appear red or pink and look like tiny dots or pimples. It is usually found on body areas covered with clothing. It can develop when the sweat ducts become blocked and swell. Heat rash can be uncomfortable and itchy. To prevent heat rash, dress your child as an adult would be comfortable at the same temperature. Heat rash doesn’t usually require medical attention and will go away after a few days.
5. Chickenpox — You might remember chickenpox from your own childhood. A chickenpox (varicella) vaccine is now routinely given to children to help prevent chickenpox. This contagious illness causes an itchy rash and red spots or blisters all over the body. Treatment at home may include resting and taking medicines to reduce fever and itching. Letting your child soak in an oatmeal bath can also help with itching.
6. Ringworm — In spite of the name, ringworm is caused by a fungus, not a worm. It is called ringworm because the rash sometimes looks like a ring. It grows best in warm, moist areas, such as locker rooms and swimming pools. The rash may be peeling, cracking, scaling, itchy and red. It can affect the face, groin, hands and other parts of the body. Over-the-counter antifungal creams or ointments can be used to treat the rash. If symptoms do not improve or the rash is spreading, your child is unwell or the rash is on their scalp, make an appointment with a doctor.1
7. Fifth Disease — this is a very common childhood illness. Early symptoms are similar to the flu, such as runny nose, sore throat and headache. The rash comes several days later, first on the face and later over the rest of the body. It may be itchy and last for seven to 10 days or more. Medication may help with the fever, headache or joint pain that can accompany fifth disease. Like with many illnesses, you’ll also want to be sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks plenty of fluids.
8. Hives — also called urticaria, causes itchy welts on the skin. The welts may be red, purple or skin-colored. Hives may be triggered by lots of things, including foods, medications or other substances. Heat, exercise or stress may also cause a flare. Make an appointment with a healthcare provider if your child has severe hives or they last for more than a few days.2 Seek emergency care if your child experiences hives as part of a severe allergic reaction with dizziness, trouble breathing, or swelling of the tongue, lips, mouth or throat.
Make an appointment 24/7.
An itchy or uncomfortable skin rash can be especially hard for children to endure. It can also be a sign of an underlying illness which may need treatment. If you have any concerns about your child’s rash, it is important to ask for medical help early. To book a Babylon Video Appointment 24/7, download the Babylon Health app. Your provider can offer suggestions for home care that can ease your child’s symptoms.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Treatment for Ringworm.” https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/ringworm/treatment.html. Last reviewed January 14, 2021.
2. Mayo Clinic. “Chronic hives” https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-hives/symptoms-causes/syc-20352719. Published July 2, 2022.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.