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What’s that red spot? Things to know about rashes and your child

Childhood rashes are extremely common and in most cases, they're not serious. It can be worrying though to see hives, welts or other types of rash on your child's skin and you may be confused about what's causing the issue.

»RELATED: 9 infant illnesses to watch for (and when to worry)

The following guide will help you understand the causes of rashes and to know when you should be concerned enough to call the pediatrician:

What causes rashes?

Rashes can be caused by a lot of different things. They include the following, according to AskDrSears:

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  • An allergic reaction – can cause welts that come and go. If your child has welts, watch for other signs of an allergic reaction, such as wheezing, persistent vomiting or throat tightness. If this happens, give your child Benadryl and go to the emergency room.
  • Eczema – can look like dry white patches or red, irritated ones. It often occurs on the inner or outer elbows or in front of or behind the knees. Eczema can be short-lived or chronic.
  • Viral illnesses – can include chicken pox (red spots or bumps that look like insect bites, often with fever. Bumps can blister by the third day and also start to crust over), fifth disease (starts out looking like your child has been slapped and then changes to a rash that spreads from the trunk to the extremities. Your child may also have a fever, runny nose or cough) or hand, foot and mouth disease (blisters on the hands, feet or mouth). 
  • Roseola – usually starts with a high fever and then develops into a rash on about the fourth day (just as your child starts to feel better). It often looks like red spots and bumps that start on the upper back and neck and have a lacy appearance.
  • Insect bites – often look like red bumps with a pinpoint hole in the middle and usually number less than 20
  • Heat rash – tiny red bumps, pimples or spots that are usually on the back of neck, lower back or trunk
  • Contact rash – can be red, raised bumps or patches that are itchy and in a small area, or can look like small red pimples or spots. These can be caused by contact with an irritant like poison ivy or soap.

When should you call the pediatrician?

WebMD recommends calling your child's pediatrician if any of the following apply to your child:

  • He or she is younger than six months
  • Your child doesn't feel well
  • A fever accompanies the rash
  • Your child has bruises that aren't due to an injury
  • The rash oozes or looks red, swollen or wet (signs of an infection)
  • The rash goes past the diaper area
  • The rash is more serious in skin creases
  • The rash peels, especially on the palms or soles of the feet
  • Your child has hives (swollen, pale red bumps or red swollen marks that appear suddenly)
  • The rash doesn't improve after two days

How can you provide relief?

You can give oral antihistamines (like Children's Benadryl) before bedtime to help decrease the itch and rash, according to Parents. You can also give your child a cool bath with oatmeal to ease the itch and apply calamine lotion afterward.

Since it can be difficult to determine the cause of your child's rash, if you have any doubts, call your pediatrician. Be prepared to answer questions about whether your child has a fever or other symptoms and whether he or she has come into contact with a new substance that could be causing irritation.

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