Common Causes of Childhood Rashes | News | Loyola Medicine
Thursday, October 29, 2015

Loyola Medicine pediatrician discusses cause of common childhood rashes

MAYWOOD, Ill. – Sniffles, stomach bugs, fever and sore throats are often associated with viruses, but rashes are common in children with viral infections as well. Rashes can be itchy and painful for kids and difficult for parents trying to determine if they are a symptom of something serious or just an everyday annoyance.

“Causes of rashes vary immensely and it can be difficult for parents to know if they should be concerned. Rashes can be caused by anything from an allergic reaction to viral illness to something more serious,” said Heidi Renner, MD, pediatrician at Loyola Medicine and assistant professor in the departments of medicine and pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Most childhood rashes are no cause for concern, but it’s always best to talk to your pediatrician.”

According to Dr. Renner most childhood rashes will resolve themselves or can be easily treated. Still, rashes can be a symptom of another illness or virus and a child should be seen by a doctor.

Some common viruses that may cause a rash are:

  • roseola
  • chicken pox
  • measles

Rashes caused by these viruses are extremely contagious and your child should not be around other children if he or she has a rash along with a high fever. Be sure to thoroughly wash hands to not transmit the virus to others. Contact your doctor if your child also has symptoms of dehydration that include:

  • decreased fluid intake
  • decreased urine output
  • dry lips

“This scenario may indicate a more serious illness and the child should be evaluated by a pediatrician,” said Dr. Renner.

One of the most common viruses associated with a rash in children is the coxsackie virus, also known as hand, foot and mouth disease. This often causes painful blisters on the palms, soles of the feet and back of the throat. It is transmitted through contact with nose or throat secretions or contact with an open blister caused by the rash.

“Unlike the chicken pox and measles there is no vaccine to prevent hand, foot and mouth disease. There is no treatment either. The best thing parents can do is treat the symptoms with over-the-counter pain relievers and mouthwashes/oral sprays to help alleviate some of the discomfort,” said Dr. Renner.

Parvovirus B19 or Fifth’s disease is another common virus that can present with a rash. It begins like any other respiratory virus with runny nose, fever and headache which are then followed with a rash on the face and body.

“Like most viruses Fifth’s disease is spread through secretions when someone coughs or sneezes, and most children get sick a week to 10 days after exposure. Once the child develops the rash they are no longer contagious. This is usually a mild illness and no specific treatment is needed,” said Dr. Renner.

Rashes can have different appearances, including red flat areas, raised bumps, welts, blisters or a combination. The duration of the rash can last from a couple of days to several weeks.

If the child’s fever is associated with a rash that is bright red or purple with spots or bruises that do not turn white when you push on them, seek medical attention immediately. This could be a symptom of meningococcal infection that can cause life-long disabilities or even death.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.