Health Advice

Rashes in babies and children

Many things can cause a rash in babies and children, and they're often nothing to worry about.

This page covers some of the common rashes in babies and children.

As a parent, you may know if your child seems seriously unwell and should trust your judgement.

Call 999 or go to A&E now if:

Your child is unwell with a rash and has any of these symptoms:

  • a stiff neck
  • bothered by light
  • seems confused
  • a high temperature
  • difficulty breathing (you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs), breathlessness, or they're breathing very fast
  • a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin and does not fade when you press a glass against it
  • their skin, lips or tongue look pale, blue, grey or blotchy

On brown and black skin, it may be easier to see the rash or colour changes on the soles of the feet, palms, lips, tongue and inside the eyelids.

Ask for an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if:

  • you're worried about your child's rash and you're not sure what to do

Rash with a high temperature

Rash on cheeks with high temperature

A rash on 1 or both cheeks plus a high temperature, runny nose, sore throat and headache may be slapped cheek syndrome.

Slapped cheek syndrome can usually be treated at home.

Blisters on hands and feet plus mouth ulcers

Blisters on the hands and feet, with ulcers in the mouth, could be hand, foot and mouth disease.

Hand, foot and mouth disease can usually be treated at home.

Rash on the face and body

A rash of small, raised bumps that feels rough, like sandpaper, could be scarlet fever.

Speak to a GP if you think your child has scarlet fever.

A spotty rash that appears on the head or neck and spreads to the rest of the body could be measles.

Speak to a GP if you think your child has measles.

Rash with itching

Rash caused by heat

A rash of small, raised spots that feels itchy or prickly could be heat rash (prickly heat).

Heat rash can usually be treated at home.

Scaly or cracked skin

Skin that's itchy, dry and cracked may be atopic eczema. It's common behind the knees, elbows and neck, but it can appear anywhere.

Speak to a GP if you think your child has eczema.

Find out more about atopic eczema

Raised, itchy spots or patches

Raised, itchy patches or spots could be caused by an allergic reaction (hives).

Hives can usually be treated at home. But call 999 if there's swelling around your child's mouth or they're struggling to breathe.

Itchy round rash

An itchy, dry, ring-shaped patch of skin may be ringworm. The patch may look red, pink, silver, or darker than surrounding skin.

Ringworm can usually be treated at home.

Small spots and blisters

Small, itchy spots that turn into blisters and scabs could be chickenpox.

Chickenpox can usually be treated at home.

Itchy sores or blisters

Sores or blisters that burst and leave crusty, golden-brown patches could be impetigo. The sores or blisters can be itchy, get bigger or spread to other parts of the body.

Speak to a GP if you think your child may have impetigo.

Small and very itchy spots

Very itchy raised spots could be caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin (scabies). There may be raised lines with a dot at one end, often first appearing between the fingers.

Scabies can usually be treated at home.

Rash without fever or itching

Tiny spots on a baby's face

Very small spots, called milia, often appear on a baby's face when they're a few days old. Milia may appear white or yellow, depending on your baby's skin colour.

They usually go away within a few weeks and do not 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 get better in a few weeks without treatment.

Skin-coloured or pink spots

Small, firm, raised spots could be molluscum contagiosum. The spots can be the same colour as surrounding skin, darker than surrounding skin, or pink.

You can usually treat molluscum contagiosum at home.

Red patches on a baby's bottom

If your baby has a red and sore bottom, it could be nappy rash.

Nappy rash can usually be treated at home.

Pimples on the cheeks, nose and forehead

Spots that appear on a baby's cheeks, nose or forehead within a month after birth could be baby acne.

You do not need to treat baby acne. It usually gets better after a few weeks or months.

Yellow, scaly patches on the scalp

Yellow or white, greasy, scaly patches on your baby's scalp could be cradle cap.

Cradle cap can usually be treated at home.