Expert / 25 June, 2018 / My Baba
All children get rashes from time to time, ranging from short term illnesses such as chicken pox, to longer term skin conditions such as eczema. Rashes in children are common and whilst they can be an indication of illness, it is important to remember that it is unlikely that you’ll be handling anything life-threatening or a danger to your child’s long-term health.
The nature of rashes make their cause tricky to identify as a parent, as they can present themselves in many different forms. Some are unique to a single clinical condition whereas some are associated with a number of different ailments. Essentially the question is, how are you to know if your child is suffering with something that will clear up on its own or that if it’s a rash that will require a trip to your GP?
In an attempt to provide clarification on this confusing topic, Dr Akash Deep, Consultant Paediatrician at The Portland Hospital, part of HCA UK, takes us through the most common rashes seen in children, what they look like and when to seek medical advice.
Heat rash is an itchy rash of raised spots which create a stinging or ‘prickly’ sensation on the skin. The rash is usually caused by excessive sweating which leads to a blockage of the sweat ducts in the outer layer of skin. The trapped sweat then leads to a rash a few days later. This rash is common in babies (as they can’t control their temperature) as well as in older children.
Heat rash can be uncomfortable, but it is mostly harmless and there are measures that you can take to help soothe the symptoms for your child, such as:
If the rash doesn’t improve after a few days, it’s important to seek medical advice.
Chickenpox is a viral illness that most children catch at some point in their childhood, most commonly before they reach the age of 10. Having the Chickenpox virus at some stage in childhood is actually preferable to not having it at all as once you have had the condition it is unlikely that you will get it again – working similarly to a vaccination.
The Chickenpox rash is very unique to this specific virus; a rash of itchy spots turn into fluid-filled blisters which crust over and form scabs, eventually dropping off. The severity of the rash differs between cases – some children will only have a few spots whereas others will have them all over their body. The spots are most likely to appear on the face, ears and scalp and then make their way to the under arms, chest, belly and the arms and legs.
There is no specific medical treatment for Chickenpox as in nearly all cases it will clear up on its own, but you can take steps to relieve some of the symptoms:
You should look to seek medical attention if:
If you think your newborn baby may have Chickenpox, then you should ask your GP for an emergency appointment as they can prescribe medicine to prevent complications. Most medicines will need to be taken within 24 hours of the appearance of the rash, which is why it’s so important to act quickly in this instance.
Eczema is a long-term condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked. The most common type is atopic eczema, which mainly affects children but can continue into adulthood. It commonly develops behind the knees or on the elbows, neck, eyes and ears.
About one in five children in the UK have eczema, it is very common and while there is no cure, it can be managed and kept under control with certain treatments. If you think your child may have eczema, the best thing you can do for them is seek diagnosis from your GP. Together, you can develop a management and treatment plan for the condition, this will likely involve the following:
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common, childhood contagious infection that causes mouth ulcers and spots on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.
Signs of the condition are the described rash, a sore throat, loss of appetite and a temperature above 38C. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for the disease and it’s easily spread, so you should keep your child away from school or nursery until they get better. Your child’s immune system will fight the disease and it will typically clear up after about 7 to 10 days.
You can help with the symptoms by:
Impetigo is a common and highly contagious skin infection that causes sores and blisters. They soon rupture and leave crusty, golden-brown patches that look a little bit like cornflakes stuck to the skin.
There are two types of Impetigo – bullous and non-bullous. Bullous Impetigo typically affects the trunk (the area of the body between the waist and neck) and cause the fluid-filled blisters that rupture and crust, as described above. Non-bullous impetigo typically affects the skin around the nose and mouth, causing sores that quickly burst and leave red, open patches of itchy skin.
Impetigo is rarely a serious condition, but it will need prescribed antibiotic cream to help clear it up. You will therefore need to pay a visit to your GP. As the condition is highly contagious as well as painful and uncomfortable your child will need to stay off school or nursery until they are better.
If it is impetigo that your child is struggling with you should:
The rash stops being contagious 48 hours after you start using the medicine prescribed by your GP.
Due to the routine meningitis vaccination it is very unlikely that this disease is the cause of your child’s rash, however it’s still important to be aware of how this rash presents itself.
One of the key symptoms of meningitis is a blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when you roll a glass over it – if this is the case then you should call 999 or go to A&E. It is very important that meningitis is treated quickly. If the rash does appear to fade under the glass but you’re still concerned, you should, again, seek medical advice as soon as possible – especially if they are suffering other symptoms including:
Dr Akash Deep, Consultant Paediatrician, The Portland Hospital
For more information contact HCAUK@thephagroup.com / 020 7025 1363
About The Portland Hospital
About HCA Healthcare UK