Bumps, Spots and Itching, Oh My! 5 Common Rashes and What to Do about Them

Written by Kathryn Wright, M.D. on Jun 15, 2016, 8:30:00 AM

When you have children, it can seem as though it’s one malady after another. As if skinned knees and sore throats aren’t enough, rashes can pop up without warning. 

The good news is that while rashes are common in children, they usually aren’t serious. Remain calm and keep your first-aid kit stocked with over-the-counter pediatric antihistamine medication, topical corticosteroid ointment, ibuprofen or acetaminophen and mild soap. 

Be patient and watch the rash for a couple of days. Chances are it will go away, but if not, or if the rash is painful or your child has a high fever, visit your child’s doctor.

Contact Dermatitis



Appearance: Small red bumps that may ooze or dry red patches.

Cause: Usually allergic reaction or contact with a harsh substance, like detergent or poisonous plant.

Action: Topical or oral corticosteroid and/or antihistamine. If it’s not better in a couple of days or gets worse, visit the doctor.

Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac

Appearance: Red, swollen rash with blisters that itch.

Cause: Touching the plant.

Action: Calamine lotion or topical corticosteroid. If not better in three days or if painful, take your child to the doctor.


Diaper Rash


Appearance: Bright red rash in diaper area.

Cause: Irritation from contact with urine or feces. Also can be caused by fungus or bacteria.

Action: Change your child’s diapers and clothes often. Wash diaper area gently with mild soap and water and keep dry. Try zinc, petroleum jelly or vitamin A and D ointment, but if these don’t work, visit the doctor.




Appearance: Small red, raised bumps or large welts. May spread to other areas of the body.

Cause: Usually an allergy to something inhaled, eaten or touched, or insect bites.

Action: See the doctor if lasts more than three days. If child has trouble breathing, hives may be the sign of a serious allergy. Take your child to a doctor immediately.




Appearance: Pink patches on the trunk that spread to the neck, arms, legs and face, usually in children 6 months to 2 years.

Cause: Virus spread by coughing or sneezing.

Action: Starts with a high fever for three to five days, followed by two days of the rash. Call the doctor if fever is over 103 or doesn’t go away after five days. 

Look at the rash often, maybe even taking a photo with your cell phone to check progress. If you’re not sure what the rash is, see a doctor. 

Has your child ever had a bad rash? What did you do?


Dr. Wright is a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Tanglewood Clinic. Child obesity, newborn care and ADHD are among her top clinical interests. Being around kids makes every day at work fun for her.



Starts with choosing your doctor.

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