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Children's rashes

Babies and children often develop rashes. These areas of spots or red, irritated skin may look unsightly but aren't usually serious. They also tend to disappear as rapidly as they came, without too much cause for concern.

There are several reasons why children get rashes. Some such as nappy rash and eczema are localized, that is, confined to a small area of skin. Others cover a more widespread area and may be a sign of childhood illnesses, such as measles, German measles and chicken pox. A rash may also be a sign of an allergic reaction to something your child has eaten or touched.

TYPES OF SPOTS
Rashes come in many shapes and forms, and may be accompanied by itching or a fever. They are classified according to the type of spots that develop.

A macular rash is an area of redness or flat, red spots (macules) which is level with the skin around it. A group of small, raised spots or bumps (papules), which you can feel when you run your finger over the skin, is called a papular or nodular rash. The bumps may be red or the same colour as the surrounding skin.

BLISTERING RASHES
A rash which develops into small 'blisters (vesicles), such as chicken pox, is often called a vesicular rash. Large blistering rashes are known as bulous rashes. And if the blisters are filled with pus, the rash is described as pustular.

A rash may also consist of weals - large, raised areas of skin which are white in the centre and pink round the edges. These are the result of an allergic reaction. A rash may also lead to the development of secondary symptoms, as well as the primary rash symptoms. These typically include soreness, infection and scarring.

A classic example is chicken pox, in which the spots become infected and then develop scabs. A chronic primary rash such as eczema can also cause the skin to become thickened and leathery.

Newborn babies are often prone to rashes, such as milia (clusters of tiny white spots on the face) and neonatal urticaria (a blotchy red rash), both of which are harmless and clear up within a few days without any treatment.

If your child develops a rash you are unsure about, or if you think he or she may be suffering from a childhood illness, seek your doctor's advice so that appropriate treatment can be given.

COPING WITH RASHES
You can help calm your child's irritated skin by applying a soothing, cooling cream or lotion such as calamine.

If the itching is severe, the doctor may prescribe antihistamine drugs, or you can buy them over the counter from the pharmacist.

Above all, try to prevent your child from scratching, as this can cause scarring, infection and, in rare cases, lead to serious complications. Very severe or infected rashes can be treated with topical steriods and antibiotics.

Chronically dry or eczematous skin may benefit from a special moisturising cream or emollient.

     
     

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