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Rash, Age 11 and Younger (cont.)

Check Your Symptoms

Home Treatment

Most rashes will go away without medical treatment. Home treatment can often relieve pain and itching until the rash goes away.

If your child has come in contact with a substance that may cause contact dermatitis, such as poison ivy, immediately wash the area with large amounts of water.

Once a rash has developed, leave it alone as much as possible.

  • Use soap and water sparingly.
  • Leave the rash exposed to the air whenever possible.
  • Encourage your child not to scratch the rash.

If your child has a rash, he or she should not be in contact with other children or pregnant women. Most viral rashes are contagious, especially if a fever is present.

Relief from itching

Itching with a rash is generally not serious, but it can be annoying and may make a rash more likely to become infected. Rashes caused by chickenpox, eczema, or contact dermatitis are much more likely to itch. Sometimes itching can get worse by scratching.

Home treatment may help the itching.

  • Keep your child's fingernails clean and short, and encourage him or her not to scratch. Cover your baby's hands with socks to help keep him or her from scratching.
  • Keep your child out of the sun and in a cool place. Heat makes itching worse.
  • Keep the itchy area cool and wet if your child is older than age 9 months. Put cloths soaked in ice water on the rash a few times a day. Too much wetting and drying will dry the skin, which can increase itching. Do not put cloths soaked in ice water on the skin of a baby younger than 9 months. It may cause the baby's body temperature to go down.
  • Try an oatmeal bath to help relieve itching. Wrap 1 cup of oatmeal in a cotton cloth or sock, and boil it as you would to cook it. Allow it to cool to room temperature, and then use it as a sponge while bathing your child in cool water without soap. You can also buy a product at the store, such as Aveeno Colloidal Oatmeal bath.
  • Dress your child in cotton clothing. Do not use wool and synthetic fabrics next to the skin.
  • Use gentle soaps, such as Basis, Cetaphil, Dove, or Oil of Olay, and use as little soap as possible. Do not use deodorant soaps on your child.
  • Wash your child's clothes with a mild soap, such as CheerFree or Ecover, rather than a detergent. Rinse twice to remove all traces of the soap. Do not use strong detergents.
  • Do not let the skin become too dry, which can make itching worse.

Nonprescription medicines for itching

Carefully read and follow all label directions on the medicine bottle or box.

  • Try calamine lotion for a rash caused by contact dermatitis, such as poison ivy or poison oak rashes.
  • For severe itching, apply hydrocortisone cream 4 times a day until the itch is gone. Note: Do not use the cream on children younger than age 2 unless your doctor tells you to do so. Do not use in the rectal or vaginal area on children younger than age 12 unless your doctor tells you to do so.
  • Try an oral antihistamine to help the scratch-itch cycle. Examples include chlorpheniramine maleate, such as Chlor-Trimeton, and diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl. Oral antihistamines are helpful when itching and discomfort are preventing your child from doing normal activities, such as going to school or getting to sleep. Don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your child's fever or pain:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all labels on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Give, but do not exceed, the maximum recommended doses.
  • Do not give your child a medicine if he or she has had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless directed to do so by your child's doctor.
  • Do not give naproxen sodium (such as Aleve) to children younger than age 12 unless your child's doctor tells you to.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your child's doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Other symptoms, such as a fever, feeling ill, or signs of infection, are severe or become worse.
  • A new rash lasts longer than 2 weeks.
  • Your child's symptoms become more severe or more frequent.
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