Skin Rash

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A skin rash is an area of inflammation or a change in the color or surface of the skin. Rashes are extremely common in newborns and can cause a significant parental concern. Most neonatal rashes are transient and benign. Erythema toxicum neonatorum, acne neonatorum and transient neonatal pustular melanosis are transient vesiculopustular rashes seen in newborn infants that can be diagnosed clinically based on their characteristic appearances.1 Many rashes gradually disappear on their own but some rashes are more serious and may require prompt medical treatment.

While a skin rash can result from a variety of irritants or conditions, allergies are one of the more common causes of the skin rash in children. Allergic rashes can be caused by either skin contact with an allergen (allergic contact dermatitis) or as a reaction to an ingested or inhaled allergen. The characteristics of a rash and its accompanying symptoms can often help pinpoint the cause.

Skin rashes can appear on the entire body or be confined to specific areas. They may or may not be contagious. Most childhood skin rashes are not contagious unless they are caused by an infectious disease such as chicken pox or scabies. Acne vulgaris is the most common skin rash of the pediatric and adolescent population.2 Although medications are available to help relieve the discomfort associated with skin rashes and to help the rashes heal more quickly, these products should not be used without a pediatrician’s consultation.

First Aid

Treatment of most rashes can be done at home. The general measures in the treatment include the following:

  • Keep the skin slightly moisturized with a mild hypoallergenic, odorless moisturizer.
  • Avoid hot showers and baths as this tends to aggravate the rash.
  • Use mild soaps and nonabrasive sponges.
  • Dress in light and breathable fabrics like cotton.
  • Avoid scratching any types of rashes.
  • A child with chicken pox should remain indoor and not allowed to go to school or daycare until the last lesion to appear fully crusts over.
  • Whenever the rash is accompanied with fever, seek medical help.

Treatment of Few Common Skin Rashes2

  • Viral infections include warts, varicella (chicken pox), molluscum contagiosum and herpes. Treatment varies from observation or antivirals for varicella to cryosurgery and topical imiquimod for warts.
  • Scabies and lice infestation are common among school-going children and can be treated with permethrin and pyrethrin solutions.
  • Fungal infections such as tinea are usually treated with topical antifungals and antihistamines.
  • Psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, poison ivy and eczema comprises of scaling patches and plaques or with bullous and vesicular changes. Treatment for these conditions consists of topical emollients and corticosteroids.
  • Acne vulgaris is treated with topical and/or oral antibiotics and retinoids.
  • Treatment of generalized drug eruptions involves removal of the causative agent, topical antipruritics for itching and systemic corticosteroids (for severe reactions).


1.O'Connor NR, McLaughlin MR, Ham P. Newborn skin: Part I. Common rashes. Am Fam Physician. 2008; 77(1): 47–52.

2.Sanfilippo AM, Barrio V, Kulp-Shorten C, Callen JP. Common pediatric and adolescent skin conditions. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2003; 16(5): 269–283.

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Written by: healthplus24 team
Date last updated: May 02, 2015

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