Fever and Rash

If your child has any of the following features:

  • Has a rash that does not go away with pressure (the ‘Glass Test’)
  • Swollen lips or tongue and struggling to breathe
  • Breathing very fast, too breathless to talk, eat or drink
  • Working hard to breathe, drawing in of the muscles below the ribs, or noisy breathing (grunting)
  • Breathing that stops or pauses
  • Is pale, blue, mottled or feels unusually cold to touch
  • Difficult to wake up, very sleepy or confused
  • Weak, high-pitched cry or can’t be settled
  • Has a fit (seizure)
  • Is under 3 months old with temperature more than 38°C or under 36°C (unless fever in the 48 hours following vaccinations and no other red features)

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:

  • Painful rash
  • Blistering rash unless recent contact with chicken pox
  • Develops red lips or a red tongue
  • Develops a lot of skin peeling
  • Has had chickenpox in the past few days and is now getting more unwell
  • Breathing a bit faster than normal or working a bit harder to breathe
  • Dry skin, lips or tongue
  • Not had a wee or wet nappy in last 8 hours
  • Poor feeding in babies (less than half of their usual amount)
  • Irritable (Unable to settle them with toys, TV, food or hugs even after their fever has come down)
  • Is 3-6 months old with temperature 39°C or above (unless fever in the 48 hours following vaccinations and no other red or amber features)
  • Temperature of 38°C or above for more than 5 days or shivering with fever (rigors)
  • Temperature less than 36°C in those over 3 months
  • Getting worse or you are worried about them

You need to contact a doctor or nurse today.

Please ring your GP surgery or contact NHS 111 - dial 111 or for children aged 5 years and above visit 111.nhs.uk

 

  • Most children with fever and rash can be safely managed at home.
  • Watch them closely for any change and look out for any red or amber symptoms

  • Additional advice is also available to young families for coping with crying of well babies – click here.

  • If your child has a long term condition or disability and you are worried please contact your regular team or follow any plans that they have given you

  • 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, contact NHS 111 – dial 111 for children aged 5 years and above visit 111.nhs.uk

How can I help my child?

Most rashes require no medical input and simply get better by themselves without any treatment. This includes viral rashes. If your child has a fever and is distressed, you may consider giving them paracetamol (calpol) and/or ibuprofen (although ibuprofen should be avoided if your child has chickenpox).Some rashes require you to keep your child off from nursery or school. This includes chickenpox and scarlet fever. Take a look at the Healthier Together website for more information under the “Should your child go to nursery/schooltoday?” section.

About fever and rash

Skin rashes are extremely common in babies and children. A skin rash associated with fever is most often due to a viral infection. This occurs along with other symptoms such as runny nose and cough. The rash can vary in shape and size,usually appearing as blotchy red spots commonly affecting most of the body. These rashes are called ‘non-specific’,which means that it is hard to say which specific virus is the cause.

How long is the rash likely to last?

Most rashes usually appear quite quickly and only last for a few days.

What should you look out for?

Not all rashes are due to viral infections. If your child develops a rash that doesn’t fade under pressure using the glass test, they need to be seen urgently by a doctor. Other features that you should look out for painful skin rashes, blistering rashes and rashes affecting the lips and tongue. If you child has had chickenpox in the past couple of days and is now getting more unwell with a high fever and a spreading red rash, they need to be seen urgently. If your child appears unwell to you, in terms of being difficult to rouse, pale and floppy or if they are struggling to breath, you should have them seen urgently by a doctor. If their temperature stays above 38°C for more than 5 days, you should also have them seen.

This guidance is written by healthcare professionals from across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.

Hide this section
Show accessibility tools