A Guide to Good Health

Pediatric Rashes: Examination And Treatment

Rashes are common in children. They often last for a few days and then fade away. Rashes that persist, however, need to be evaluated by a pediatric physician. Before treatment can be initiated, the exact cause of the rash needs to be determined. Pediatric rashes can be caused by viral and bacterial infections, allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders, and eczema. Here are some components of the examination the doctor may perform and which treatment options may be necessary.


When you take your child to the pediatric clinic, you will be asked about your child's medical history. If you are seeing the doctor for the first time, the medical office will not have this information on file, so it is important that you be as precise as possible.

Your child's vital signs will also be taken, including his or her temperature. If the patient has a fever, the doctor may associate the rash with a viral infection. The rash will also be examined to rule out chickenpox, measles, rubella, or a drug allergy.

A throat culture may also be ordered to rule out strep or tonsillitis. The doctor will also listen to the lungs and heart and will palpate the abdominal organs for any unusual swellings. If the physical examination fails to undercover the nature of the rash, blood and urine tests may be ordered. If your child has a goiter, or lump in the lower part of the neck, he or she may have hypothyroidism, which can cause rashes. If a goiter is discovered, a thyroid panel blood test will be recommended. 

Rash Treatments

If your child's rash is caused by a bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics. If caused by an allergic reaction, supportive measures such as antihistamines or topical hydrocortisone may be recommended. Avoidance of the offending allergen will also be recommended.

If the rash is caused by a viral infection, antibiotics won't be prescribed because antibiotics are only effective against infections that are bacterial in nature. Instead, the physician will recommend rest, plenty of fluids, and over-the-counter pain and fever reducers to keep your child comfortable. Once the viral infection has run its course, the rash will fade away soon after. Pediatric rashes caused by autoimmune disorders such as hypothyroidism typically respond to thyroid replacement hormone therapy.  

If your child develops a rash, make an appointment with the pediatrician. While most pediatric rashes are nothing to be too concerned about, the cause needs to be determined so that treatment can be implemented to reduce irritation and itchiness.