FAQs About Childhood Rashes And Pediatric Dermatology

Does your child have a rash? Suddenly your child's skin is red, blotchy, itchy, and irritated. What should you do? If this is a new rash that you've never seen before, take a look at the top potential causes, how you can help your child, and when to visit a pediatric dermatology practice.

What Can Cause A Rash?

There isn't one easy answer to this question. Childhood rashes have many potential causes. These include eczema, a food allergy, an environmental allergy (such as a hygiene product, fragrance, material/clothing, or home cleaning product), a medication allergy, bug bites, or a virus. 

Along with these causes, serum sickness can also cause rashes, hives, itching, and other symptoms in children. This can happen after taking some types of medications, such as penicillin, cefaclor, or sulfa antibiotics. Even though it may seem like a drug allergy, serum sickness typically won't happen immediately after taking the medication. According to the National Library of Medicine's Medline Plus website, it can take 7 to 21 days to see symptoms. 

How Should You Treat A Rash? 

You need to know the cause before you can treat your child's rash. If the rash is part of a severe allergic reaction or your child has other serious symptoms (such as swelling, trouble breathing, wheezing, or a fever), go to the emergency room immediately or contact your local emergency response provider. This type of reaction requires medical intervention that most doctor's offices and urgent care clinics can't provide.

If the only symptom is the rash and your child is only mildly uncomfortable, you can take them to a pediatric dermatology care medical practice. Your child will need an office visit before they get a diagnosis. After the doctor determines the probable cause of the rash, they will recommend or prescribe a topical or oral medication that can help to stop the itching and soothe the skin.

The specific treatment the dermatologist chooses depends on the cause of the rash. Treatment can accomplish two goals—it can stop the symptoms and it can cure the underlying cause. But this doesn't mean that every cause has a complete cure. Some rashes, such as chronic eczema, require periodic treatment to reduce the symptoms. If the doctor can't help to "cure" the condition, they can provide options to relieve the itching, irritation, redness, and blotches or spots.

Common treatments for childhood rashes include changes in diet or hygiene product use (avoiding triggers), hydrocortisone cream, topical moisturizer products (over-the-counter or prescription), oral antihistamines, calcineurin inhibitors (depending on your child's age), light therapy, and warm/moisturizing baths.

Contact a local pediatric dermatology office to learn more.