With so many different types of rashes, it’s tricky to know which is which and how to treat them. That’s why we’ve outlined the most common rashes for easy reference.Photo: iStockphoto
The term roseola means “sudden rash.” This mild infection is triggered by two common strains of a human herpes virus: virus 6 and virus 7. After four or five days of irritability, sore throat and fever, a rash of small red or pink spots usually appears. They are generally flat, but some may be raised or have a white ring circling them and usually appear on the chest, back and abdomen.
The rash lasts anywhere from several hours to several days before fading and isn’t itchy or uncomfortable. Call the doctor if roseola and fever lasts more than seven days, the rash doesn’t improve after three days or if you’re pregnant.
Read more: Baby skin problemsPhoto: CMSP
Scabies is characterized by clusters of bright red, pimple-like rashes that may have blisters or scales, caused by the human itch mite infesting in a person’s skin. Scabies is spread by prolonged skin-to-skin contact with someone infected.
The rash, which may crust over, causes intense itching (that is worse at night) and can be found in areas such as the wrists, elbows, armpits, webbing between fingers, nipples, penis, waist and buttocks. In infants and young children, it can also be found on the face, neck, chest and abdomen.
Prescription lotion is required, so contact your doctor.Photo: CMSP
Caused by a mold-like fungus and named after the ring shape it makes on the skin, this rash is itchy, red, flaky, circular and raised, inflamed around the edge, but the middle of the circle looks clear. It can emerge on your child’s torso or face. If it’s on your child’s head, there’s often a bald spot where the rash emerges.
This skin infection is relatively mild, but keep your child home until you’ve started treating the rash—see your pharmacist for over-the-counter options. If the rash doesn’t clear in a few weeks or seems to be getting worse, contact your doctor.Photo: CMSP
Candida (yeast) infections can breed and develop in a diaper rash due to the warm, moist environment that yeast thrives in, causing the rash to be not only painful, but itchy, too. Smaller lesions, called satellite spots, or red bumps with white centers, are adjacent to the larger, more defined patches of rash.
Treatment for an irritant diaper rash won’t work on a yeast infection; your child will need to be seen by a doctor to be prescribed an antifungal cream.Photo: CMSP
Chicken pox presents as flu-like symptoms with fever, aches, runny nose, fatigue or loss of appetite, with a rash appearing within two days. It’s caused by the varicella virus, which is spread through the air or via direct contact with someone infected. Chicken pox is most contagious 24 to 48 hours before the rash develops. The red spots have tiny blisters at the centre, are itchy and found all over the body. The blisters break and scab over through the course of the illness, usually 10 days in total.Photo: CMSP
Try itch-relieving solutions, such as calamine lotion, baking soda baths and antihistamines. Your child should stay home until the blisters scab over to avoid passing the virus. Get your child checked by the doctor if she has both a fever and rash to rule out other illnesses.
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Also known as “slapped cheek syndrome” fifth disease begins with relatively unspecific symptoms—a low-grade fever, runny nose, headache and sometimes an upset tummy. Then the telltale rash on the cheeks emerges before spreading to the rest of the body.
The rash is not usually itchy, and lasts anywhere from a week to a few weeks. If you suspect fifth disease, have a doctor confirm it (if you’re pregnant, fifth disease can cause problems for unborn babies).
Fifth disease is spread like a cold, through saliva and nasal mucus, but in children, it doesn’t require treatment. However, if your child is feeling feverish or has achy joints, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help. Once the rash develops, the virus is no longer contagious.Photo: CMSP
Eczema presents as patches of itchy, red rash, or can also appear as thick, cracked or scaly skin, or small raised bumps, which may leak fluid and crust over with red to brownish-grey-colored patches on the skin. The itching can be severe, especially at nighttime, and skin can get sensitive and raw from scratching.Photo: CMSP
Check with a doctor to confirm the rash is eczema, and see if medicated cream is recommended. Otherwise, during flare-ups, keep the area moisturized with fragrance-free lotions (the best time to apply is right after a bath). Because this condition looks like so many others, it's one of the most confusing rashes on children.
Common eczema triggers are temperature extremes, pollen, dust, pet dander, and lotions and soaps with fragrances and dyes. Some parents report success after using this steroid-free eczema ointment for ages three months and up.
Impetigo presents as clusters of blisters and red bumps that may ooze fluid and create a honey-coloured crust. They are usually found around the nose, mouth and other areas of exposed skin, but can easily spread to other areas of the body by fingers, clothing and towels. Impetigo is highly contagious, and caused by a strep or staph bacteria passed along by touch.
Call your doctor right away if you suspect your child has impetigo—the infection spreads fast and she will need antibiotics to battle it. Oral antibiotics are only recommended if she has more than a few sores, otherwise, topical antibiotics are used.Photo: CMSP
Hives, or urticaria, can be caused by a number of triggers, including allergies to food, medicine, animals, dyes and perfumes; physical forces, such as the skin being pressed or scratches; and viruses, such as a cold. They look like red raised welts varying in size, and may appear individually or connect to each other to form large welts anywhere on the body.
Typically, hives disappear once the allergen is removed, or within a few days. You can use non-sedating antihistamines to ease symptoms, as well as oatmeal baths, aloe vera or calamine lotion to help with the itch factor.
However, if hives are accompanied by signs of anaphylaxis such as wheezing, vomiting, sudden sleepiness or swollen lips, eyes, mouth or throat, immediate medical attention is needed.Photo: CMSP
Scarlet fever is caused by the same bacterium responsible for strep throat. It involves a high fever and rosy rash all over the body. Your child will likely complain of a sore throat, headache, have a fever and may vomit, but a red rash with a rough bumpy texture will also appear, along with a swollen tongue due to this viral infection.
If you spot signs of a rash accompanied by a fever or sore throat, call your doctor, as scarlet fever progresses quickly. Your child will need a course of antibiotics to treat the illness. Although very contagious before treatment, he will no longer be infectious 24 hours after starting antibiotics.
Read more: How to treat your kids’ fever at homePhoto: CMSP
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