Toddlers can develop a rash as a result of a viral infection. Although fever is a common symptom of viral infections, not all toddlers with a viral rash also experience fever.
In this article, we discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment of a viral rash with no fever in toddlers.
Toddlers can develop a rash as a result of a viral infection. The exact type of rash depends on the underlying cause. Below, we look at a few common viral rashes that occur in toddlers.
Roseola causes a high fever of about 104°F (40°C) for 3–5 days. Once the fever drops, a distinctive rash appears on the torso. The rash contains raised bumps that may feel itchy or painful, and it may spread to the arms, neck, or face.
Other symptoms of roseola include:
There is no specific treatment or vaccine available for roseola. People can prevent the spread of roseola and HHV-6-related disease by:
- avoiding contact with people who have an HHV-6 infection
- keeping their child home when sick
- washing the hands thoroughly after interacting with a person who is sick
- washing bedding, clothing, and other items that the person came into contact with while sick
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, may help reduce a high fever. Treatment for a roseola rash usually involves bed rest and sufficient fluid intake.
Although most toddlers fully recover from roseola within 1–2 weeks, HHV-6 infections present some risk for complications, such as:
Hand, foot, and mouth disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) occurs due to human enteroviruses (EV), most commonly coxsackievirus A16. HFMD typically affects infants and children younger than 5 years of age. However, adults can have HFMD if they did not have exposure to the viruses that cause it during childhood.
Although HFMD leads to fever in roughly 90% of people, a low percentage of children have no fever or accompanying symptoms.
HFMD typically causes an itchy rash on the hands, feet, and lining of the mouth and throat. The rash can consist of flat or raised bumps.
Toddlers with HFMD may exhibit:
Symptoms of HFMD usually resolve within 7–10 days.
As with other viral infections, HFMD clears up on its own without medical treatment. However, people with HFMD should get plenty of rest and drink clear fluids to prevent dehydration. OTC pain medications can help reduce fever and relieve pain.
Rubella is a contagious viral infection that affects children and adults. Rubella causes mild or unnoticeable symptoms in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a red rash is often the first noticeable indication of rubella.
An estimated 50–80% of people with rubella develop a rash. A rubella rash starts on the face and neck, but it can spread to the chest, torso, and other areas of the body.
Rubella symptoms usually appear within 2–3 weeks of the initial infection. While some children develop a rash without additional symptoms, others may experience mild-to-moderate symptoms a few days before the rash appears.
Symptoms of rubella include:
- a headache
- redness or swelling of the whites of the eye
- physical discomfort
- a cough
- a runny nose
- swollen lymph nodes
- low grade fever
There is no specific treatment for rubella, but the symptoms usually resolve once the immune system gets the viral infection under control. Bed rest and OTC medications can help alleviate headaches and fever.
Fifth disease causes a bright red rash on the cheeks, which may be less apparent in people with darker skin. The rash may appear on other areas of the body, including the:
Some people only develop the rash, while others experience other mild symptoms, such as:
- a headache
- a runny nose or congestion
- painful or swollen joints
- low grade fever
Fifth disease typically clears up on its own. However, OTC anti-inflammatory drugs may help relieve joint pain and swelling.
Parents or caregivers should take a toddler to a doctor if they develop a skin rash alongside severe symptoms, such as:
- high fever
- a severe or intense headache
- a refusal to eat or drink
It is also important to seek medical attention if an infant or toddler under 6 months of age develops a new rash.
Toddlers and young children often develop viral rashes as their immune system continues developing. Most causes of viral rashes without fever are not serious and resolve within a few days to a week.
Parents or caregivers should consult a healthcare professional if a toddler has a rash that lasts longer than a week or if they develop new or worsening symptoms.