Discovering a rash on your child’s skin can be alarming, but the good news is that rashes are very seldom causes for alarm and very rarely need urgent medical attention.
What constitutes a rash?
The word refers to any change in the texture or colour of the skin, and rashes are usually bumps or red patches. The bumps can be any size and can be raised, fluid-filled or filled with pus. A rash is often itchy and can be accompanied with fever if the rash is caused by an infection, or swelling in the case of some allergies. A common rash is called dermatitis, which means inflammation of the skin.
Rashes can have many causes. The most common cause of rash is viral infections, as is the case with chickenpox, rubella, measles, shingles and warts. Bacteria cause impetigo rashes. Scabies is caused by a mite, while a fungal infection causes ringworm. Nappy rash can be caused and complicated by the yeast infection called candida. Allergies can also cause rashes, usually accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling.
Where the rash is the result of an underlying medical condition, such as in the case of chickenpox, the rash will clear up as soon as the infection itself clears. For most simple rashes gentle care and avoidance of irritating substances are enough to guarantee improvement. General treatment guidelines include avoiding soap, not rubbing the affected area, leaving the affected area exposed to air, and avoiding cosmetics lotions and potions. Itching can be treated with a cooling face cloth. Sometimes combining antihistamine and pain relief can also help.
The only dangerous rash
The only instance in which medical care is definitely needed is in the case of a purple rash with the appearance of a bruise and where the colour of the blotches does not fade when pressed. This rash is a sign of meningococcal infection which causes meningitis. If you suspect your child has this rash, and if the child has symptoms such as headache, drowsiness or a stiff neck, seek emergency medical advice.