6 Common Childhood Rashes
Rashes are one of the most common reasons that parents take their child to the doctor. In children, rashes are usually due to an infection, allergy or irritant. Most rashes in children are not serious, although a visit to the doctor may be necessary for diagnosis and treatment. Some of the more common rashes are described here.
Eczema is characterized by dry, thickened, scaly red skin that is very itchy. It is common in children with allergies or asthma. The rash is usually present in the creases of the elbows and knees, although eczema may also be on the face, chest and back. For some, eczema can be managed with proper bathing and moisturizing techniques although in severe cases topical steroids are prescribed.
Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin reacts to an allergen or an irritant. Common causes of contact dermatitis include poison ivy, latex, nickel, citrus fruits, or fragrances in lotions, soaps or shampoos. The skin is often red and itchy, and blisters or hives may be present. Removal of the offending agent is important. Calamine lotion and oral antihistamines (Benadryl) can be used to calm itching. Topical steroids are often used to reduce inflammation. In mild cases hydrocortisone 1 percent is sufficient, but a prescription-strength medication may be required.
Warts are firm bumps, often yellow to tan, located on the hands, toes, around knees or on the face. When located on the bottom of the foot, they are called plantar warts. Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus and can be treated with an over-the-counter medication that contains salicylic acid. In some instances a physician may need to freeze or cauterize a wart.
Impetigo is a contagious bacterial skin infection that most commonly appears around the nose and mouth. Impetigo may start with a small red bump that progresses to a pus filled blister. The blister can then rupture and the denuded skin forms a yellow crust. Impetigo is treated with a topical antibiotic ointment or an oral antibiotic.
Ringworm is a scaly, round patch with a red raised border caused by a fungus. There may be a single or multiple lesions. Ringworm is treated with a topical antifungal cream such as clotrimazole, available over the counter. If the scalp is involved then an antifungal medication taken by mouth may be necessary.
Molluscum is another viral skin infection characterized by small, flesh-colored bumps on the skin. The painless lesions are spread by direct contact with an infected individual. Molluscum can last months to years but usually goes away without treatment. Some parents opt to pursue treatment with peeling agents or freezing to speed resolution.
Always consult your doctor if you are concerned about your child's skin or if your child's rash is not resolving as expected with treatment.
For more information visit healthychildren.org.
Erin Stubbs is a board-certified general pediatrician at Myers Park Pediatrics and Levine Children's Hospital.