Rashes

Skin rashes are common in babies and children.

  • Most rashes are harmless and go away on their own.
  • The causes of skin rashes tend to differ in babies compared to older children. Many viruses can cause a rash in addition to other symptoms such as fever and cough. The rash often varies in shape and size, usually appearing as blotchy red spots commonly affecting most of the body. They sometimes appear quite quickly and usually last for only a few days. These rashes are generally ‘non-specific’, which means that it is often hard to say which specific virus is the cause.
  • For a visual guide to common causes of skin rashes in babies click the button below.

When should you worry?

If your child has any of the following features:

  • Is going blue around the lips
  • Too breathless to talk / eat or drink
  • Becomes pale, mottled and feels abnormally cold to touch
  • Becomes extremely agitated (crying inconsolably despite distraction),
  • Is confused or very lethargic (difficult to wake)
  • Develops a rash that does not disappear with pressure (the ‘Glass Test’)
  • Develops swollen lips, a swollen tongue and is struggling to breath

You need urgent help.

Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999

If your child has any of the following features:

  • Develops a painful rash
  • Develops a blistering rash
  • Develops a rash affecting more that 90% of their body
  • Has had chickenpox in the past few days and is now getting more unwell with a high fever and spreading red rash
  • Develops red lips or a red tongue
  • Develops significant skin peeling
  • Is under 3 months of age with a temperature above 38°C / 100.4°F, or 3-6 months of age with a temperature above 39°C / 102.2°F (but fever is common in babies up to 2 days after they receive vaccinations)
  • Continues to have a fever above 38.0°C for more than 5 days

You need to contact a doctor or nurse today.

Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111

  • If none of the above features are present, most children with fever and rash can be safely managed at home.
  • If you think that this is a worsening of your child’s eczema, optimise your child’s eczema treatment or see their GP or practice nurse.

Self care

Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, call NHS 111 – dial 111

Common rashes

For information on common rashes in babies and infants, click here

For information on common rashes in older children, click here

What should you do?

  • Some rashes require no medical input and simply get better by themselves without any treatment. This includes viral rashes. If your child has a fever, you may want to lower their temperature using paracetamol (calpol) and/or ibuprofen.
  • Some rashes require you to keep your child off from nursery or school. This includes chickenpox and scarlet fever.

However, certain conditions such as eczema and impetigo require treatment from your GP.

Where should you seek help?

Self Care

For wear and tear, minor trips and everything in between.

Self-care

You can treat your child's very minor illnesses and injuries at home.

Some illnesses can be treated in your own home with support and advice from the services listed when required, using the recommended medicines and getting plenty of rest.

Sound advice

Children can recover from illness quickly but also can become more poorly quickly; it is important to seek further advice if a child's condition gets worse.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Local Pharmacist

Pharmacists are experts in many aspects of healthcare and can offer advice on a wide range of long-term conditions and common illnesses such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets. You don’t need an appointment and many have private consultation areas, so they are a good first port of call. Your pharmacist will say if you need further medical attention.

Sound advice

  1. Visit a pharmacy if your child is ill, but does not need to see a GP.
  2. Remember that if your child's condition gets worse, you should seek further medical advice immediately.
  3. Help your child to understand - watch this video with them about going to the pharmacy.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Health Visitors

Health visitors are nurses or midwives who are passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing illness through the delivery of the Healthy Child Programme. They work with you through your pregnancy up until your child is ready to start school.

Health Visitors can also make referrals for you to other health professionals for example hearing or vision concerns or to the Community Paediatricians or to the child and adolescent mental health services.

Contact them by phoning your Health Visitor Team or local Children’s Centre.

Sound advice

Health visitors also provide advice, support and guidance in caring for your child, including:

  • Breastfeeding, weaning and healthy eating
  • Exercise, hygiene and safety
  • Your child’s growth and development
  • Emotional health and wellbeing, including postnatal depression
  • Safety in the home
  • Stopping smoking
  • Contraception and sexual health
  • Sleep and behaviour management (including temper tantrums!)
  • Toilet training
  • Minor illnesses

For more information watch the video: What does a health visitor do?

School Nurses

School nurses care for children and young people, aged 5-19, and their families, to ensure their health needs are supported within their school and community. They work closely with education staff and other agencies to support parents, carers and the children and young people, with physical and/or emotional health needs.

Contacting the School Nurse

Primary and secondary schools have an allocated school nurse – telephone your child’s school to ask for the contact details of your named school nurse.

There is also a specialist nurse who works with families who choose to educate their children at home.

Sound Advice

Before your child starts school your health visitor will meet with the school nursing team to transfer their care to the school nursing service. The school nursing team consists of a school nursing lead, specialist public health practitioners and school health staff nurses.

They all have a role in preventing disease and promoting health and wellbeing, by:-

  • encouraging healthier lifestyles
  • offering immunisations
  • giving information, advice and support to children, young people and their families
  • supporting children with complex health needs

Each member of the team has links with many other professionals who also work with children including community paediatricians, child and adolescent mental health teams, health visitors and speech and language therapists. The school health nursing service also forms part of the multi-agency services for children, young people and families where there are child protection or safeguarding issues.

GP (General Practitioner)

GPs assess, treat and manage a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical procedures. Your GP will arrange a referral to a hospital specialist should you need it.

Sound advice

You have a choice of service:

  1. Doctors/GPs can treat many illnesses that do not warrant a visit to A&E.
  2. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about visiting the GP or going to a walk in centre

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

NHS 111

If you’re not sure which NHS service you need, call 111. An adviser will ask you questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the advice you need, or direct you straightaway to the best service for you in your area.

Sound advice

Use NHS 111 if you are unsure what to do next, have any questions about a condition or treatment or require information about local health services.

For information on common childhood illnesses go to What is wrong with my child?

Accident and Emergency

A&E departments provide vital care for life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, suspected heart attacks, breathing difficulties, or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped. If you’re not sure it’s an emergency, call 111 for advice.

Sound advice

  1. Many visits to A&E and calls to 999 could be resolved by any other NHS services.
  2. If your child's condition is not critical, choose another service to get them the best possible treatment.
  3. Help your child to understand – watch this video with them about going to A&E or riding in an ambulance
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