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Symptoms and Signs of Skin Rashes in Children

Doctor's Notes on Skin Rashes in Children

Skin rashes in children are common in children; a skin rash is considered as sign of an underlying problem and the rashes vary according to the cause of the rash. Rashes that occur with life-threatening underlying causes are as follows:

  • Petechiae - flat red dots on the skin that do not fade when pressure is applied – causes; bacterial sepsis, meningococcemia
  • red spots on the wrist and ankles that spreads toward the trunk that blanche (turn white) when pressure is applied and later becomes petechiae - Rocky Mount spotted fever
  • red tender nodule that becomes enlarging red ring the spreads outwards - Lyme disease
  • flat red lesions, raised red lesions, blisters and possibly all of the rash types on a single child;
  • redness and swelling of the fingers and toes may be associated with peeling skin - Kawasaki disease
  • sunburn-like rash in areas normally covered by clothes; some children also have skin peeling on their palms and soles of their feet - toxic shock syndrome

Rashes that occur with bacteria as the underlying causes are as follows:

  • impetigo - small superficial blisters that rupture and then covered often by the light-yellow crust that is itchy
  • scarlet fever rash – red sandpaper like rash that looks like “sunburn with goose bumps” and usually does not occur on the palms and soles

Rashes that occur with viruses as the underlying causes are as follows:

  • chickenpox - small superficial blisters that rupture in one or two days and forms a crusty scab that falls off in 2-3 days
  • measles - reddish or purplish rash on the face and behind the ears that eventually spreads down the body to the thighs and feet
  • rubella - pink or light reddish rash on the face that spreads to the body with mild itching
  • fifth disease - bright red cheeks on the face that fades after a day or two to form Lacey red rash throughout the body, but mainly on the arms
  • roseola infantum - small pink, flat slightly read lesions that appear in the trunk and spreads to the extremities and lasts only about one or two days
  • Hand, foot and mouth disease - tenure blisters in the mouth and tongue and on the palms and soles; some children may have involvement of the lower legs, buttocks and/or the genital area

Rashes that occur with parasitic or fungal organisms as the underlying causes are as follows:

  • Scabies – an itchy reddish rash that is usually found between the fingers, in armpits and wrists and arms; it may develop a wavy pattern
  • Ringworm – a reddish oval with scaly skin in the middle and enlarges over time; hair loss in the rash may occur (also termed tinea corporis or tinea capitis)
  • Athlete’s foot – very itchy reddish skin between the toes (also termed tinea pedis)
  • Milia – small white bumps on the nose, cheeks and chin in newborns
  • Cradle cap - greasy, scaly, red bumpy skin that occurs on the scalp and behind the ears, in the armpits and in the diaper area (also known as seborrheic dermatitis)
  • infantile acne - raised reddish bumps usually on the cheeks and nose of infants
  • erythema toxicum - multiple flat reddish areas with a small raised white or yellow bump in the center
  • miliaria - small clear blisters usually on the nose (also known as prickly heat)
  • candidal rash - very red, raised area with discrete borders usually in the diaper area and the genitalia and in the creases and folds of baby skin (also termed diaper rash or yeast infection)
  • irritant diaper rash - similar to candidal rash but not in the creases and folds
  • Another rash type that is the result of an immune reaction in the skin is termed contact dermatitis rash that is red, itchy and may blister; it usually only occurs where the skin has touched the irritant. For example, underneath a ring on a finger.

    Medical Author:
    Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.