An itchy blotch or a collection of suspicious looking bumps on a child typically causes parents to reach for the pediatrician’s number. Sometimes childhood rashes turn out to be nothing more than a reaction to a metal, like nickel. In other instances, it can be caused by infection or a more severe allergic reaction.

Rashes caused by some viruses have specific patterns. Rubeola, more commonly known as measles, is caused by a morbillivirus and is associated with a deep, red, flat rash that starts on the face and spreads down to the trunk, arms, and legs. Rubella, caused by a Rubivirus spreads in a similar pattern, but has a more papular texture with a pink hue.

Three other common pediatric viral infections that cause skin changes include roseola, chicken pox, and Fifth disease. Roseola is caused by the Human Herpesvirus 6. The infection starts out with a sudden high fever and a splotchy rash that starts on the belly and spreads outward. Chicken pox papules, caused by the varicella–zoster virus, look like tiny blisters that tend to send the child into incessant scratching fits. Fifth disease, a common childhood infection caused by parvovirus B19 is associated with a rash the cheeks that make the child look as if he or she has been slapped.

While most infectious rashes are accompanied by other symptoms such as a fever, allergic and chronic rashes occasionally may be too, but typically are not. Welts, or hives, due to contact with an allergen most commonly appear within minutes of exposure. They may be transient, disappearing and reappearing over minutes on various parts of the body. Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction to a specific product or material. That new necklace your pre-teen just got for her birthday may be the culprit of a rash around the neckline due to a nickel allergy.

Chronic skin conditions, such as eczema, result in flare-ups that may look like a rash. With eczema, flat, dry patches become raised, itchy and red when irritated. Another culprit may be fungal. Red, raised rings that are itchy may be due ringworm caused, not by a worm, but a fungus that is easily transmitted from infected animals and people.

Has your daughter or son had any of these childhood rashes?

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