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Viral Exanthem

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 3, 2022.

What is viral exanthem?

Viral exanthem is a skin rash. It is your child's body's response to a virus. The rash usually goes away on its own. Your child's rash may last from a few days to a month or more.

How is viral exanthem diagnosed and treated?

Your child's healthcare provider will examine the rash and ask if your child has other symptoms. He or she will ask if your child has been around anyone who is ill. He or she will also check your child's lymph nodes for swelling. Your child may need blood tests to check for viruses. Your child's provider may need any of the following to treat his or her rash:

  • Medicines to treat fever, pain, and itching may be given. Your child may also receive medicines to treat an infection.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him or her. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children younger than 6 months without direction from a healthcare provider.
  • Do not give aspirin to children younger than 18 years. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he or she has the flu or a fever and takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin or salicylates.

How can I manage my child's symptoms?

  • Apply calamine lotion on your child's rash. This lotion may help relieve itching. Follow the directions on the label. Do not use this lotion on sores inside your child's mouth.
  • Give your child baths in lukewarm water. Add ½ cup of baking soda or uncooked oatmeal to the water. Let your child bathe for about 30 minutes. Do this several times a day to help your child stop itching.
  • Trim your child's fingernails. Put gloves or socks on your child's hands, especially at night. Wash his or her hands with germ-killing soap to prevent a bacterial infection.
  • Keep your child cool. The itching can get worse if your child sweats.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child's rash has turned into sores that drain blood or pus.
  • Your child has repeated diarrhea.
  • Your child has ear pain or is pulling at his or her ears.
  • Your child has joint pain for more than 4 months after his or her rash has gone away.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your child's temperature is more than 102° F (38.9° C) and your child is dizzy when he or she sits up.
  • Your child is having seizures.
  • Your child cannot turn his or her head without pain or complains of a stiff neck.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.