Rashes in babies and children
Go to A&E or call 999 if your child has a rash and they:
- have a stiff neck
- are bothered by light
- seem confused
- are shaking uncontrollably
- have a fever you can't control
- have unusually cold hands and feet
- have a rash that doesn't fade when you press a glass against it
These can be signs of meningitis.
See a GP if:
- your child seems unwell, and has a rash and a fever
Use the information below to get an idea of what to do about a rash. But don't self-diagnose – see a GP if you're worried.
Rash with fever
Fever and red cheeks
A fever and a bright-red rash on both cheeks can be slapped cheek syndrome. Your child may have a cold, and the rash can spread to the body.
It usually clears up within a week. Children's paracetamol can bring down a fever.
Small spots and blisters
Chickenpox causes red spots that turn to blisters. They can be itchy. They eventually scab and fall off. Some children have a few spots, while others have them all over their body.
Blisters on hands, feet and in the mouth
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common childhood illness that causes blisters on the hands and feet, and ulcers on the tongue. It also causes fever, and your child may have a cold.
It usually clears up in about a week. Children's paracetamol can bring down a fever.
Scarlet fever causes a pink-red rash, which feels like sandpaper and looks like sunburn.
It usually starts with a swollen tongue, sore throat, headache and fever.
See your GP straight away if you suspect scarlet fever. It's treated with antibiotics.
Rash with itching
Rash caused by heat
Heat and sweat can cause small red spots known as prickly heat or heat rash. It itches, so you may notice your baby scratching.
Heat rash should clear up without treatment.
Scaly red skin or cracked skin
Skin that's itchy, red, dry and cracked may be eczema. It's common behind the knees, elbows and neck, but it can appear anywhere.
Speak to your GP if you think your child has eczema.
Raised itchy spots
A raised, itchy red rash (hives) can appear as an allergic reaction to things like stings, medicines or food.
It usually clears up within a day or two.
Speak to your GP if your child keeps getting this type of rash. They may be allergic to something.
Call 999 if there's swelling around their mouth.
Itchy round rash
An itchy ring-like rash can be ringworm.
Ask your pharmacist for a cream or lotion to treat ringworm.
Speak to your GP if it appears on your child's scalp, as it may need to be treated with medicine.
Rash without fever or itching
White spots in babies
Small white spots (milia) often appear on a baby's face when they're a few days old. They usually clear up within a few weeks and don't need treatment.
Red, yellow and white spots in babies
Raised red, yellow and white spots (erythema toxicum) can appear on babies when they're born. They usually appear on the face, body, upper arms and thighs.
The rash can disappear and reappear.
It should clear up in a few weeks without treatment.
Pink or skin-coloured spots
Small, firm, raised spots that can appear anywhere on the body are common in children and known as molluscum contagiosum.
Treatment isn't recommended because the spots clear up on their own, although it can take more than a year.
Red patches on a baby's bottom
Nappy rash can be red patches on your baby's bottom or around the whole nappy area.
The skin may look sore and feel hot. There may be spots or blisters. It can make your child feel uncomfortable or distressed.
You can buy cream from your pharmacy to help clear it up.
If you can’t speak to your GP or don’t know what to do next.