Childhood Rashes

Parents become extremely worried when a rash appears on their little one’s body. It is therefore important that parents can differentiate between the most common rashes and know when it is imperative to visit your doctor.

Rashes can often be attributed to an infection (viral or bacterial), a reaction to medicine taken or an allergic reaction.

The most common viral and bacterial causes of childhood rashes are the following:

  • Chickenpox: This rash is preceded with fever, a sore throat and fatigue. When the rash appears it is small blisters that eventually ruptures and form lesions with a crust. There is no treatment for chickenpox except medications that will alleviate the fever and extreme icthyness of the blisters.  It is important to know that no child with chickenpox should be given aspirin. A doctor should be consulted immediately if the little blisters form on the tip of your child’s nose or in their eyes.
  • Measles: Measles start with nasal congestion, red eyes, a cough, high fever and a decrease in activity and appetite.  The rash only appears 3 to 4 days after the initial symptom – it is a brown rash that starts and spreads down the body. Immunization is available against measles.
  • German Measles (Rubella): All pregnant should make sure that they are immune to the rubella virus, it can cause serious complications for an unborn baby.  In infants and older children it is not a serious illness and is usually better within 4 days. German measles starts as a pink rash on the face that spreads down the body and it is accompanied by swollen lymph nodes behind the ears and in the neck.
  • Scarlet Fever: Scarlet fever is a illness due to strep throat.  It is identified by a sore throat, fever, headache, swollen glands and sometimes abdominal pain.  The rash appears after 2 days as a superficial red rash with a sandpaper-like feel.  It usually look like the face is flushed.
  • Fifth Disease: Only about 1 out of 4 children infected by this virus will become ill and present with low grade fever, headache, sore throat, nausea and/or diarrhea, bright cheeks and sometimes sore joints.
  • Roseola Infantum: This is a disease that is most common with children under the age of two years.  It is often very upsetting to parents with small children, because the high fever can last for up to 8 days.  Children with “baby measles” have a high fever, small pink flat spots that start on their trunk and then spread to their extremities.  This will clear up without treatment, but the fever can be managed with acetaminophen. Aspirin and aspirin-like products should ALWAYS be avoided in children as it can cause a life-threatening condition called Reye’s syndrome.

If any rash causes you worry it would be better to consult your doctor. When your child have flat purple spots accompanied by high fever you should take your child to the emergency room or doctor as soon as possible to rule out the possibility of meningitis or other life-threatening diseases.