Many different types of rashes can affect children. A child can develop dermatitis or develop a rash due to a virus, bacteria, or fungus. Although many rashes clear up quickly with home care, some require longer-term treatment or medication.

Some rashes form quickly, while others take several days to appear fully.

This article provides an overview of the most common rashes in children, including symptoms, causes, and treatments.

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While most rashes are not medical emergencies, a parent or caregiver should take a child to the emergency room if they notice a rash that could indicate meningitis.

Meningitis refers to inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It usually develops due to a viral or bacterial infection. It can affect anyone but most commonly occurs in:

  • babies
  • young children
  • adolescents
  • young adults

A person may notice a rash that looks like pinpricks. These spread quickly and turn into purple blotches.

On light skin, the pinpricks are red. On Skin of Color, the rash can be less noticeable. A person can check paler areas of skin for the rash, such as:

  • the palms of the hands
  • the soles of the feet
  • the roof of the mouth
  • the stomach
  • whites of the eyes
  • inside of the eyelids

The rash will not disappear if a person presses a glass against the skin.

Learn more about meningitis.

Many of these rashes are not typically a cause for concern, and a parent or caregiver can treat these rashes at home. However, if symptoms do not resolve, they should speak with a healthcare professional.

Teething rash

Teething typically starts between 4 and 7 months of age.

Teething can cause the baby to drool, and the excess saliva can irritate the skin around the mouth, cheeks, chin, neck, or chest. This causes tiny, raised, inflamed bumps to develop.

Learn more about what teething rash looks like and how to treat it.

Diaper rash

Wetness and friction from a diaper can cause diaper rash to develop on or around a baby’s buttocks. This is a rash that a person can typically treat with home care.

Diaper rash can be a form of irritant contact dermatitis or result from a fungal or bacterial infection.

Symptoms of diaper rash include:

  • raw patches on the buttocks in the diaper area
  • skin that looks sore or is warm to the touch
  • scaly, dry skin
  • fussing or discomfort
  • pimples or blisters on the buttocks

Learn more about diaper rash and how to treat it.

Cradle cap

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, experts do not fully understand the cause of cradle cap.

Around the scalp and face, an infant will develop patches of yellow or white greasy scales. These can crust and fall off.

It can sometimes affect the diaper area and appear as small, dry flakes of skin.

The scales look similar on all skin tones. However, on darker skin, the skin underneath the scales may appear darker than the surrounding skin. On lighter skin, the skin will appear red or pink.

Learn more about cradle cap and how to treat it.


Eczema is a common condition in children. Caused by an overreaction of the immune system, it results in dry, itchy patches of skin.

Symptoms of eczema include:

  • itchy, dry skin
  • inflamed or discolored skin
  • scaly patches
  • oozing or crusting
  • swelling

Learn more about eczema in children and how to treat it.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a rash caused by contact with an irritant or allergen. Common causes include:

  • soaps and detergents
  • saliva
  • lotions and perfumes
  • metals
  • latex
  • poison oak, ivy, and sumac
  • medications

Symptoms may vary among children but commonly include:

  • itchy skin
  • painful skin
  • dry, cracked, peeling skin
  • oozing, crusting, or draining
  • blistering

Treatment for contact dermatitis in children can depend on their symptoms, age, overall health, and the severity of the condition.

Learn more about a contact dermatitis rash.

Heat rash

Heat rash develops as a result of inflammation and blockage of the sweat ducts.

It can cause:

  • small, raised spots
  • prickly or itchy sensations
  • mild swelling

A parent or caregiver can treat heat rash at home.

Learn more about heat rash and how to treat it.

Although a parent or caregiver can manage the symptoms of the following viral infections at home, they should speak with a healthcare professional for advice.

Vaccines can prevent some viral rashes, such as measles, rubella, and chicken pox. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide a vaccine schedule for infants and children.

Some of these conditions, including measles, can be dangerous. A parent or caregiver should contact a doctor if they think the child has had exposure to the virus.


According to the CDC, the varicella zoster virus causes chickenpox. It can be life threatening for those who have never had it before. However, a vaccine is available.

It produces a rash with itchy, fluid-filled blisters on any body part. The blisters may scab after about a week.

Chickenpox is transmissible to someone who has never had the virus. Parents and caregivers should keep the child away from other children during the illness. The transmissible period ends when all the rash blisters have scabbed.

Chickenpox typically lasts between 4 and 7 days.

Learn more about chicken pox and how to treat it.

Fifth disease

Parvovirus B19 causes the rash called fifth disease, or erythema infectiosum.

The itchy rash, also called slapped cheek rash, appears on the face. A second rash may develop on the torso, arms, legs, or buttocks.

It usually disappears in 7–10 days. The rash may appear lacy as it starts to fade.

Learn more about fifth disease rashes and how to treat them.


Roseola infantum, sometimes called sixth disease, results from infection with human herpesvirus 6 or 7 (HHV-6 or HHV-7).

A 2022 overview of research notes that 90% of cases occur in children under 2 years of age.

Symptoms include:

  • a high fever usually greater than 104°F (40°C), which lasts 3–5 days
  • an inflamed, raised rash that typically begins on the torso as the fever disappears
  • a pale halo around the spots

The rash can spread to the neck, face, arm, and legs. It does not usually itch and begins to disappear after about 2 days.

Learn more about roseola and how to treat it.


Measles typically begins with cold-like symptoms and white spots that develop in the mouth.

A spotty rash develops on the head or neck and spreads over the body. The rash may be slightly raised but is not usually itchy. Spots may form together into patches of rash.

The CDC notes that measles is highly transmissible from 4 days before the rash appears until 4 days after the rash appears. A child or adult with measles requires isolation.

Learn more about measles and how to treat it.


Rubella is a viral condition that produces mild illness and rash that starts on the face and spreads to the body.

In children, certain symptoms usually develop before the rash, including:

  • swollen glands
  • cough, runny nose
  • aching joints
  • redness or swelling of the white part of the eye

The rash appears as a speckling on the skin.

Learn more about rubella and how to treat it.

Molluscum contagiosum

A poxvirus causes molluscum contagiosum, which results in small, raised bumps on the skin. The bumps appear flesh-colored, are smooth and firm, and have a depressed dimple in the center. The dimple may not always be present.

Mollusca lesions may develop anywhere on the body and become itchy, sore, and swollen. The condition usually resolves in 6–12 months but may take as long as 4 years.

Learn more about molluscum contagiosum and how parents and caregivers can treat it using home remedies.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is common in children younger than 5 years.

The rash can develop on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. It can also develop on the buttocks, arms, and legs.

The rash appears as flat or slightly raised spots. Blisters can also develop.

Learn more about hand, foot, and mouth disease and how to treat it.

A doctor can treat the following rashes using antibiotics, and a parent or caregiver and manage symptoms at home.

Scarlet fever

The bacteria group A Streptococcus causes scarlet fever. It most commonly develops in children ages 5–15.

Symptoms include a sore throat, fever, and a rash that feels like sandpaper.

Learn more about a scarlet fever rash and how to treat it.


Two types of bacteria cause impetigo — group A Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus. It usually takes about 10 days after exposure for the rash to develop.

Impetigo can cause itchy sores alongside yellow scabs that develop over the rash area. The rash heals without leaving a scar.

The sores develop:

  • around the nose
  • around the mouth
  • on the arms
  • on the legs

Learn more about impetigo and how to treat it.

Children can develop a fungal rash known as ringworm. The name stems from the ring-shaped pattern of the rash.

Ringworm rashes appear on the scalp or body as round or oval patches of inflamed skin that are smooth in the center. The edges appear scaly.

Learn more about ringworm and how to treat it using home remedies.

Most rashes are not emergencies.

A parent or caregiver should contact a doctor if:

  • the rash is severe
  • the rash does not go away
  • the child develops other symptoms alongside the rash

Children develop many types of rashes. Many of them are not medical emergencies, and home treatment is safe to start.

However, a parent or caregiver should contact a doctor if other symptoms are present. If the rash covers the body or a pattern of purplish paint splatters appear, it is important to seek emergency care.