5 Common Childhood Skin Rashes

Health Writer

Rashes are common in newborns and young children. The majority are not serious and many will simply disappear on their own. Other types of rashes should be seen by your family doctor or pediatrician and might need treatment. The following are some of the common rashes seen in the first few years of life.

Diaper rash

More than one-half of all babies will develop diaper rash at some point. It usually starts after a child has started eating solid food, often between eight and ten months old. To help prevent diaper rash, be sure to change your baby’s diaper soon after soiling. Clean your baby’s bottom with baby wipes or using a squirt bottle with water. Apply petroleum jelly or zinc oxide to the area after cleaning. Some diaper rashes are caused by a yeast infection, and these appear as a bright red rash. If diaper rash doesn’t go away within a few days, contact your doctor to find out if your child requires antifungal creams.


There are two main types of dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, most often develops in children with a family history of eczema or allergies. It causes redness, small bumps and itching. It usually first occurs on the cheeks, forehead and scalp. In the following years, it can become scaly and appear on the elbows, knees, wrists and ankles. Most children will outgrow atopic dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis is the result of the skin coming in contact with an allergen or irritant. It usually disappears when the irritant is gone, such as a reaction to rough fabrics or an allergy to certain metals. If the rash persists or is very itchy or oozes, your doctor may prescribe or recommend treatment to relieve the discomfort.


Roseola is a viral infection that begins as a high fever and lasts anywhere from three to seven days. When the fever goes away, a rash appears, starting on the abdomen and spreading to the rest of the body. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, almost all children contract roseola before starting school. Roseola isn’t normally dangerous and should be treated symptomatically by taking acetaminophen and lukewarm baths to reduce fever.


Hives are an allergic rash. They are characterized by raised large welts and extreme itchiness. Allergies to food, medication, insect bites and viral infections can all cause hives. They can move to different parts of the body, disappearing in one area and showing up in another. Hives normally last for three to four days. You can also experience localized hives, which are characterized by a localized outbreak from direct contact with plants, pollen or food.


Although ringworm can affect people of all ages, it is more common in children. It is caused by a fungal infection, called tinea. It appears as red, itchy, scaly patches with sharply defined edges. The name “ringworm” is used because the patches are normally redder around the outside, causing it to look like a ring. You can contract ringworm from another person, sharing items such as unwashed clothing, towels or combs. You can also contract it from moist or wet surfaces, such as showers or pools. Cats also are carriers for ringworm. Over the counter antifungal medications may help. Your doctor can also prescribe medication if the ringworm worsens or does not go away.

For more information

Understanding Hives

The Basics of Ringworm


“Rashes and Skin Conditions,” Updated 2015, May 5, Staff Writer, HealthyChildren.org, American Academy of Pediatrics

“Ringworm,” Updated 2011, May 28, Updated by Kevin Berman, M.D., PhD, A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia