16 Common Rashes Kids of all Ages can get (from newborn to teenagers)

16 common rashes kids of all ages can get from Newborn to Teenagers
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16 Common Rashes Kids of all Ages can get (from newborn to teenagers)

Itching, burning, redness. These are all common signs of rashes. When it comes to treating rashes on your child, it’s important to know how to identify them so you can apply the most effective treatment. Take a look at these common rashes kids of all ages get, and be on your way providing comfort and relief for your little one. 

Common rashes kids can get

We researched and gathered information from doctors and other healthcare experts to list some of the most common rashes kids can get, from newborn to the teen years. Of course, this isn’t a complete list of childhood rashes, but one common denominator for most of the ones listed here is that while they can be uncomfortable, they’re generally not cause for concern. 

 

“Most of the time, rashes in kids will go away by themselves pretty quickly,” Raman Madan, MD, a dermatologist at Northwell Health, said. 

 

Rebekah Diamond, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University and author of Parent Like a Pediatrician: All the Facts, None of the Fear, agreed.

 

“In general, when kids are otherwise well, most rashes aren’t cause for huge concern and can be treated at home with the help of your child’s pediatrician’s advice,” she said. 

 

As always, it’s important to call your pediatrician if you’re concerned.

 

“If you ever have questions or worries, your pediatrician is available for a call or visit to get things on track,” Diamond said. 

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Rashes in newborns and infants

Babies can be born with a rash or develop them in their early months of life. But don’t fret! Most disappear or can be treated easily. Here’s a look at some baby rashes and what they look like:

 

Diaper rash. This is very common in babies and newborns. This type of rash develops because skin irritation is more common in warm, moist environments. Stool and urine can also irritate the skin. 

 

Krupa Playforth, MD, pediatrician and author of Eyes, Nose, Belly, Toes: My First Human Body Book, recommends using certain ointments and changing your baby’s diaper frequently to prevent the rash.

 

The most important thing parents should know is that they need to apply a thick layer of zinc oxide-based diaper ointment to heal the skin,” Playforth said. “Some ways to minimize diaper rash include frequent diaper changes, avoiding aggressive wiping and using barrier protection like diaper ointment or vaseline between the skin and the irritants.”

 

Cradle cap. This condition, which many health experts agree is harmless, causes yellow or white scaly patches on your baby’s scalp. It can look scary, but parents don’t necessarily have to do anything for it. 

 

“You don’t have to do anything for it, sometimes kids will have good days, sometimes they’ll have bad days,” Madan said. “If parents are really upset with how it looks, they can use baby oil on the scalp or Head & Shoulders Shampoo a couple of times a week.” 

 

Erythema toxicum. This one sounds very scary, but it’s quite common and seen in a large percentage of newborns. It looks a little like pimples, sometimes with fluid-filled lesions surrounded by redness. It usually turns up about two to five days after birth but can appear as late as two weeks, Playforth explained. 

 

“It is benign, not infectious, and the spots can come and go within hours,” she said. “It is important to know there are other more serious causes of rashes that can look similar, so any rash in a newborn needs to be discussed with your pediatrician.”

 

Neonatal acne. It seems like no matter how old or young we are, we can’t escape acne. This type of acne is pretty common, developing in the first few weeks to three months after birth. Why it appears in some babies and not others is a mystery to the medical community. 

 

“We do not have a great explanation for why some babies are more susceptible than others, but most of the time we monitor clinically because it goes away on its own,” Playforth said. 

 

Drool rash. As the name implies, drool rash is caused by excessive drooling, often beginning around three to four months when the salivary glands develop. It’s a harmless rash that can appear as a red, inflamed and bumpy rash that can be itchy and sore. Parents can use an absorbent bib or soft burp cloth to soak up drool and prevent it from irritating baby’s skin.

Rashes in toddlers

Diaper rash. As with babies, this rash is common for many young toddlers who aren’t potty trained yet. 

 

Eczema. Also known as atopic dermatitis, this rash starts as dry skin that turns red when it turns into eczema, and it can be very uncomfortable and chronic. Anyone can get eczema, even babies and toddlers. 

 

“The thing about eczema is, it doesn’t come on right away,” Madan said. “It’s usually gradual, it’s been hanging around. Sometimes parents take care of it, sometimes they don’t. It doesn’t come up overnight.”

 

Eczema can be treated at home, but parents should always call their pediatrician if they are concerned.  

 

“If the kid continues to itch and is very uncomfortable, parents should call the pediatrician,” Madan said. “But usually if you do an over-the-counter medication, moisturize consistently, and take short showers or baths…these things can all help and a lot of times prevent it from becoming an issue.”

 

Ringworm. Despite its name, ringworm is not caused by a worm. Rather, it’s a fungal infection that causes a circular rash. Keep in mind it’s very contagious; you can get it by touching contaminated objects, surfaces or people. Antifungal creams, sprays and powders can help, but it’s also best to speak with your pediatrician about treatment

 

Impetigo. This is common in kids ages 2 to 8, especially when they have colds or drool. It usually appears on the face and arms. 

 

“Its hallmark is a honey-colored crusted rash,” Playforth said. “When there are breaks in the skin barrier (such as minor cuts, scratches, insect bites, or even rubbing of the skin), these bacteria enter and cause an infection. The two main causes are the Staphylococcus and Streptococcus species.”

 

Impetigo is very easy to treat, but you’ll definitely need an antibiotic, Madan explained. 

 

Skin reactions to sunscreens, topical lotions, etc. These can be caused by many things, such as an allergy to one of the ingredients, irritation or skin sensitivity due to the formulation of the product or incorrect application.

 

“Parents need to look for signs of irritation or allergy when applying sunscreen or anything topical on their children’s skin,” Playforth said. 

Rashes in older kids, tweens and teens

Warts or molloscum. These are both viral infections, and they’re very common. Warts can appear typically on hands, feet and knees, while molloscum can appear anywhere on the body. Doctors can freeze warts with a cold spray, but molloscum is different.

 

“With molluscum, it’s a little trickier,” Madan said. “There’s really no great treatment. I try to dissuade patients from even bothering to treat it, but it can be kind-of distressing. If parents really want to treat it, we’d treat it the same way we do warts.”

 

The condition usually goes away on its own after about two years. 

 

Viral Reaction. This is common in elementary-school age kids and toddlers. It can be described as a lot of redness spreading very quickly over the body. It can happen after any type of viral infection, but sickness isn’t a prerequisite. 

 

“The thing that’s tricky about this, is that the kid doesn’t always have to be sick,” Madan explained. “Sometimes, they could have just been exposed to a viral infection and the body fought it off.”

 

These reactions can start overnight and suddenly and can spread quickly between a day or two over the entire body, often sparing the face. 

 

“There’s really not much you need to do,” Madan said. “You just have to wait it out.”

 

Acne. There aren’t too many tweens and teens immune from this skin condition. In teenagers, acne is very common and can appear as whiteheads, blackheads and pimples. 

 

“If the areas are large or concerning, cystic, painful, or bother the child, please reach out to your pediatrician,” Playforth advised. “There are so many things we can do to help.”

 

Rhus dermatitis. This refers to the allergic reaction caused by plants such as poison ivy, oak and sumac. While these aren’t common rashes, it’s certainly possible for your child to encounter these plants if they spend a lot of time outside, especially in summer. 

 

This guide from the FDA gives excellent information on poison ivy, oak and sumac rashes, including when to see a doctor. 

 

Hives. Appear as allergic red welts on any part of the body. They’re usually caused by an unknown source, but are also commonly caused by viruses and known allergic triggers. 

Keratosis pilaris. This common condition appears as small, scaly bumps on the skin. Parts of the body affected include the upper arms, thighs and buttocks. There’s no cure, but treatment such as applying certain lotions and creams can help.

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