Are you worried about the rashes on your child's skin? It's normal for parents to feel concerned about unusual rashes, even if they've seen them before. In this article, we'll explain which rashes need attention and medical assessment, so you can better understand when to seek help.
Identifying viral rashes
Look out for small, red pinprick spots on your child's chest, abdomen, and limbs. These spots may disappear when you press on them (glass test negative). They often come with common illnesses like coughs, colds, sore throats, and tummy bugs.
Most viral rashes go away on their own without treatment. While there's no cure for these infections, you can manage the symptoms at home with help from your pharmacist. For example, encourage your child to drink fluids to prevent dehydration and consider using paracetamol for pain relief and fever control.
When to see a doctor: If you're worried about a rash on your child or notice any complications like ear infections, it's important to see a doctor. This is especially crucial if your child is under 12 months old, has a high fever, or refuses to drink fluids.
Remember, viral rashes are caused by an underlying infection and can spread between children. The time between getting the virus and developing symptoms (incubation period) varies for each virus. Usually, people are most contagious a few days before the rash appears and for a few days afterwards.
When to seek immediate medical attention: If your child has a rash along with any of the following symptoms and seems more unwell, it's important to get emergency medical attention:
• Persistent high temperature/fever
• Weakness or floppiness
• Confusion or difficulty waking up
• Severe or worsening headaches
• Very pale skin
• Seizures or fits
• Shortness of breath
• Sharp chest pain that gets worse with breathing
• Coughing up blood
In such cases, go to the nearest accident and emergency department or call emergency services right away.
Common rashes to watch out for: Here are some common rashes and spots that parents should be aware of:
• Meningitis: A meningitis rash appears as reddish or purple spots that don't fade when pressed with a glass. The rash usually starts as small, red pinpricks before spreading quickly and turning into red or purple blotches. Use the glass test to check. If you suspect meningitis, take your child to an Accident and Emergency Department immediately.
• Slapped Cheek Syndrome: This syndrome, caused by parvovirus, shows up as a bright red rash on the cheeks. Most cases are mild and go away within a few days. Make sure your child gets plenty of rest and fluids. If you're concerned or belong to a high-risk group, consult a doctor.
• Chickenpox: Look for itchy, red spots that turn into fluid-filled blisters. Chickenpox is usually mild and can be managed at home with rest, fluids, and pain relief. Seek medical attention if the symptoms worsen or if there are complications.
• Measles: Measles is highly contagious and causes a mass of red spots around the neck, behind the ears, and on the face. Contact your doctor if you suspect measles. There's no specific treatment, but you can manage the symptoms with rest and fluids.
• German Measles (Rubella): Rubella causes a pinkish-red rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. It's usually mild but can be dangerous if contracted during pregnancy. If you suspect rubella, consult a doctor for diagnosis and guidance.
• Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease: This viral infection presents with small, painful sores or blisters on the hands, feet, and inside the mouth. It's common in young children and usually resolves within a week. Maintain good hygiene practices and provide pain relief for comfort.
• Scarlet Fever: Scarlet fever is characterised by a fine, pinkish-red rash that feels like sandpaper. It often occurs with a sore throat, fever, and swollen glands. Consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics if necessary.
• Eczema: Eczema is a chronic skin condition that causes dry, itchy, and inflamed patches of skin. It's not contagious and can be managed with proper skincare, moisturisers, and sometimes prescribed medications. If you suspect eczema, consult a healthcare professional for appropriate management.
Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and there are many other rashes and skin conditions that children can experience. If you have any concerns about your child's rash, it's always best to seek medical advice to ensure an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Conclusion: Rashes in children can be worrying for parents, but many of them are harmless and go away on their own. However, it's crucial to know when to seek medical attention. If your child has a rash accompanied by severe symptoms, appears unwell, or if you have any doubts or concerns, consult a healthcare professional. They can provide an accurate diagnosis, offer appropriate treatment options, and give you peace of mind about your child's health. Remember, your child's well-being is the most important thing, and seeking medical advice is always the best approach when you're unsure.
Sources and further reading:
• MMR for all: General Guide - Gov.UK
• Rashes in babies and children - NHS Factsheet
• Meningitis – Symptoms – NHS Factsheet
Information provided and reviewed by the AXA Health 24/7 health support line team.
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