Though I wouldn't necessarily classify myself as a hypochondriac or a frequent visitor to medical websites, I do admit to the occasional overreaction to various bumps, spots, or discolorations on my son's skin. Logically, I know that he probably hasn't contracted some rare disease, but a tiny part of my brain (which I refer to as the parental paranoia gland) is convinced he's in need of urgent care. Too bad pediatrician offices don't give out punch cards like fro-yo shops, right? So what are some actual signs you should get your child's rash checked out instead of letting internet comment boards fill your brain with worry?
When my son was only a few weeks old, I urgently told my partner we needed to find a specialist, because our son was experiencing some kind of rare mammalian molting. (Side note, don't binge watch The X-Files when you're the sleep-deprived parent of a newborn.) It turns out it was just a case of cradle cap. Though I can laugh about my absurd concern that my infant was somehow part reptile, at the time it was anything but funny.
That's why it can be particularly comforting to know what symptoms you should or shouldn't be worried about. So check out these signs that you should get your kid's rash checked out.
1. It's Butterfly-Shaped
Though not all people with this condition exhibit rashes, there is a trademark sign. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, a facial rash across the nose and cheeks that looks like a butterfly or raised, disc-like rashes on the body can be indicators your child might have an autoimmune disease called Lupus. As a person with Lupus, I can tell you that it's better to get diagnosed sooner rather than later.
2. Toilet Time Hurts
Diaper rash is extremely common among infants and even young children who are still potty-training. But when is it something serious? As the Mayo Clinic noted, "burning or pain with urination or a bowel movement," is a sign of a serious rash which typically requires a prescribed medication since it won't go away on its own.
3. They're Hot & Feverish
According to the Boston Children's Hospital, swollen, warm skin, fever, chills, and a rash are symptoms of cellulitis, a bacterial infection of the skin usually caused by some kind of wound or trauma. Though it's definitely treatable, do try and get medical help as soon as possible to prevent further complications.
4. It's Oval-Shaped
You may think this is a skin condition that only affects animals, but you'd be wrong. If your child's rash has a distinct ring or oval shape, they could have ringworm, as Nemours' Kids Health noted, which is a contagious fungal infection that is easily treated. You might want to get the rest of the family (furry ones included) checked since ring worm can spread quickly and easily.
5. Their Palms Are Itchy
Typically, most rashes occur on broad areas of skin. So when your child's rash is localized to just one region, such as their palms, there's cause for concern. According to Parents an itchy rash, "between the fingers, in the wrist area, armpit, palms of their hands, and soles of their feet," are classic signs of scabies, which is a skin infection caused by a mite. Similar to ring worm, this is highly contagious, so prompt treatment and preventative measures for the rest of your house is highly recommended.
6. Blisters Form
Dr. Laura Ferris, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told Today that rashes which begin to blister, ooze, or crust should be checked out by a medical professional immediately. It can be especially serious if you have an infant because they can open blisters and possibly spread the contagion by doing so.
7. It's Widespread
Unless your kid has been rolling around in a pile of Poison Ivy, a rash that covers their body is a red flag. As Kids Health noted, a full-body rash, red eyes, and cold symptoms are signs of measles. Highly contagious and extremely harmful to infants or those with a compromised immune system, treatment should be sought out immediately if you suspect your child has measles.
8. Their Lymph Nodes Are Swollen
Though rubella is similar to measles — full-body rash, red eyes, and cold-like symptoms — this viral infection can be quite different. If your child has the classic red rash plus, "enlarged, tender lymph nodes at the base of the skull, the back of the neck, and behind the ears," it could be rubella, according to the Mayo Clinic. And just like many infections, this is also contagious and should be treated with caution.
9. Their Breathing Changes
Every kid can get a case of the sniffles or a random rash. However, if they have a rash and also have difficulty breathing, such as, "breathing rapidly, or making a throaty noise when breathing," you should get them checked out immediately, as the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) noted. It's a good rule of thumb to play it better safe than sorry whenever it comes to your child's ability to breathe.
10. It Doesn't Fade
One sign that I've only recently heard of has to do with whether or not a rash stays visible when pressure is applied. Since you can't see through your finger, using a glass is a common method. According to the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) Public Health Agency of Northern Ireland, "a rash that does not fade when pressed with a glass," is a sign of meningitis, which the HSC further noted is an inflammation of the brain's lining.
11. It Looks Like A Bulls-Eye
You may already know this one if you live or frequently visit wooded and forested areas. If your child's rash looks like a target, it could be Lyme disease caused by a tick bite, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lyme disease can be very serious, especially if left untreated, so you should definitely get your child's rash checked out if it looks like a bulls-eye.