• What to look out for

    Many things can cause a rash on your child’s skin. If the rash appeared less than two weeks ago, it could mean your child has an infection of some kind or it could simply mean your child’s skin has come into contact with something which caused a reaction.

    The most common type of allergic reaction is called urticarial, or hives.

    Many things can trigger hives such as certain certain foods, latex (for example, the rubber found in rubber gloves), nettles, medicines, insect bites and stings, even exercise or heat. However, in around half of all cases, no cause can be found.

    If your child feels ill along with the rash, they may have an infection. Common viral infections with a rash include:

    Click on the links to learn more about these conditions.

  • What can you do

    Bring your child to the doctor to find out what is causing the rash. Like many parents, you may be worried about meningitis, but meningitis is an uncommon cause of rashes in children. If your child has meningitis, the child will have headaches, vomiting and a high temperature along with the rash.  If you do suspect meningitis, get medical help immediately.

    Some infections caused by viruses may need treatment. For example, antiviral medication can ease the pain of shingles if it is taken within 72 hours of the rash appearing.

    If your child is diagnosed with chicken pox, the itch can be eased by antihistamine syrup.  If your child has a condition or is getting treatment that affects their immune system, they will need special antiviral medicine for chickenpox.  If your child has eczema, they can develop a more serious form of chickenpox.

    Talk to your pharmacist about using paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce temperature and relieve pain.

    Hives are treated with antihistamine tablets. As children try new foods, they may develop hives. Consider what new foods they have eaten, for example strawberries, and avoid those foods in future.

    Do not use creams, especially steroid creams, on your child’s rash unless your doctor advises this as steroids often make rashes worse.

    Antibiotics are sometimes needed to treat rashes such as impetigo and cellulitis. However, most rashes are caused by a virus or an allergy and are not helped by antibiotics. In fact, antibiotics often cause allergic reactions.

  • When to seek help

    Always bring your child to the doctor if they develop a rash.

    If your child has headaches, vomiting and a high temperature along with the rash, get medical help immediately as they may have meningitis.