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Rash in Children


The cause of your child's rash may not be known. You may need to keep a diary to help find what has caused your child's rash. Your child's rash may get better without treatment.


Call 911 if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child has tiny red dots that cannot be felt and do not fade when you press them.
  • Your child has bruises that are not caused by injuries.
  • Your child feels dizzy or faints.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever or chills.
  • Your child's rash gets worse or does not get better after treatment.
  • Your child has a sore throat, ear pain, or muscles aches.
  • Your child has nausea or is vomiting.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


Your child may need any of the following:

  • Antihistamines treat rashes caused by an allergic reaction. They may also be given to decrease itchiness.
  • Steroids decrease swelling, itching, and redness. Steroids can be given as a pill, shot, or cream.
  • Antibiotics treat a bacterial infection. They may be given as a pill, liquid, or ointment.
  • Antifungals treat a fungal infection. They may be given as a pill, liquid, or ointment.
  • Zinc oxide ointment treats a rash caused by moisture.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Care for your child:

  • Tell your child not to scratch his or her skin if it itches. Scratching can make the skin itch worse when he or she stops. Your child may also cause a skin infection by scratching. Cut your child's fingernails short to prevent scratching. Try to distract your child with games and activities.
  • Use thick creams, lotions, or petroleum jelly to help soothe your child's rash. Do not use any cream or lotion that has a scent or dye.
  • Apply cool compresses to soothe your child's skin. This may help with itching. Use a washcloth or towel soaked in cool water. Leave it on your child's skin for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat this up to 4 times each day.
  • Use lukewarm water to bathe your child. Hot water can make the rash worse. You can add 1 cup of oatmeal to your child's bath to decrease itching. Ask your child's healthcare provider what kind of oatmeal to use. Pat your child's skin dry. Do not rub your child's skin with a towel.
  • Use detergents, soaps, shampoos, and bubble baths made for sensitive skin. Use products that do not have scents or dyes. Ask your child's healthcare provider which products are best to use. Do not use fabric softener on your child's clothes.
  • Dress your child in clothes made of cotton instead of nylon or wool. Cotton will be softer and gentler on your child's skin.
  • Keep your child cool and dry in warm or hot weather. Dress your child in 1 layer of clothing in this type of weather. Keep your child out of the sun as much as possible. Use a fan or air conditioning to keep your child cool. Remove sweat and body oil with cool water. Pat the area dry. Do not apply skin ointments in warm or hot weather.
  • Leave your child's skin open to air without clothing as much as possible. Do this after you bathe your child or change his or her diaper. Also do this in hot or humid weather.

Keep a diary of your child's rash:

A diary can help you and your child's healthcare provider find what caused your child's rash. It can also help you keep your child away from things that cause a rash. Write down any of the following that happened before the rash started:

  • Foods that your child ate
  • Detergents you used to wash your child's clothes
  • Soaps and lotions you put on your child
  • Activities your child was doing

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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