How Do You Treat a Rash on a Child?

Medically Reviewed on 6/17/2021
how to treat a rash in a child
Learn about home remedies to soothe your child’s rash and when to call a doctor

Skin rashes are common in children, and may or may not be itchy, raised, colored, or oozing. While most rashes will usually go away without treatment, here are some things you can try at home to soothe your child’s rash, and when to call a doctor.

  • Clean the skin.
    • Clean your child’s skin by washing with mild soap and warm water.
    • Do not scrub the skin to avoid further irritation.
    • Dry the skin by patting it with a towel.
    • Do not cover the rash with a bandage or any other covering.
  • Apply calamine lotion. Applying calamine lotion to the rash can help soothe the skin and relieve itching.
  • Put your child in a cool bath. Cool (not hot) baths with oatmeal can help relieve itchy skin. Avoid hot baths because the heat can aggravate the rash.
  • Use a wet cloth. If the rash is on intact skin, placing a clean wet cloth on it to help reduce pain and itching.
  • Give your child over-the-counter medications. OTC medications for skin rashes include hydrocortisone creams and topical Benadryl. If your child is over 2 years old, you can also give them the oral form of Benadryl.
  • Discourage your child from scratching. Scratching the rash can break the skin and cause skin infections. If your child is old enough to understand your instructions, tell them to control the urge to itch. You can also cut their nails and make them wear gloves at night.

What causes skin rashes in children?

Allergies to certain materials or metals may cause your child to develop a rash whenever they come into contact with those items. Even diapers may cause rashes in babies.

Rashes may also be caused by viral, bacterial, or fungal infections. Some rashes may even be a sign of a serious medical condition. 

Knowing the cause of your child’s rash can put you at ease and help you make informed decisions, like whether you need to take your child to their pediatrician or treat them at home with simple remedies.

When to see a doctor for your child’s rash

Some rashes may not resolve on their own. If you are not able to figure out the cause of your child’s rash and you have additional concerns, visit your child’s pediatrician or a dermatologist.

In general, you should see a doctor if your child’s rash:

  • Is accompanied by a fever, loss of appetite, or painful urination
  • Is painful or itches so much that it disturbs your child’s sleep
  • Makes it hard for your child to participate in daily activities
  • Persists for more than 3 days even after taking OTC medications
  • Starts shortly after eating a new food or taking a new medication
  • Is non-blanching (no change in color when pressed)
  • Appears like a bruise but is not due to an injury
  • Is butterfly-shaped and comes across the nose and cheeks
  • Looks like a bull’s eye or is oval
  • Is worse in skin creases
  • Is widespread with enlarged, tender lymph nodes
  • Causes swelling in the mouth or face
  • Causes trouble breathing troubles
  • Is wet, crusty, blistering, or oozy.
  • Involves the eyes, or is inside the mouth or genital area

Remember that any type of rash in an infant younger than 6 months old always warrants a visit to the doctor.

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Medically Reviewed on 6/17/2021
References
WebMD. Rashes (Children). https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/rashes-children