With yet another measles outbreak making headlines recently, it's easy to freak out over every little rash you see on your child's skin. While most rashes are completely harmless and can be nothing more than a mild skin irritation, a rash can also be a symptom of a more serious illness, so it's important to know the difference. Especially during the summer months when sweat is an everyday thing, heat rash can be super common. So what's the difference between measles and heat rash? How do you know when it's something serious or when it's something completely harmless? I checked in with Miami-based pediatrician Dr. Gary Kramer to get some expert insight.
Being a mom is hard enough without having to worry about serious and sometimes deadly childhood illnesses making a comeback in recent years. But luckily, there are measures you can take to protect your child. and learning the warning signs can help keep you and your family safe. I'll never forget when my son developed pneumonia when he was just 8 months old. He was so little and helpless, it was scary. I would have never known he had pneumonia if I hadn't brought him to the emergency room and allowed them to take an X-ray. It's always better to be proactive and safe when it comes to your child's health.
When it comes to the measles, knowledge is power. According to Dr. Kramer, there are specific characteristics that the measles virus will have that a heat rash will not. With children infected with measles, they will experience other symptoms in addition to the rash. Dr. Kramer tells Romper in an email that "these symptoms include fever, runny nose, red/watery eyes, and tiny white spots that may form inside the mouth." Dr. Kramer also says that the Measles virus will present a rash that "appears two to four days after the initial symptoms of the virus." So if your child has a rash with accompanying symptoms that look like a cold or flu, definitely check in with your pediatrician as soon as possible.
But how do the rashes differ in their appearance on the skin? Dr. Kramer says that a measles rash "usually is a flat Erythematous rash that starts on the face and then spreads diffusely to the rest of the body." Whereas, a heat rash "is the consequence of sweat glands blocked and thereby not allowing sweat to evaporate from the surface of the skin." He continues by saying that a heat rash "occurs more commonly in clothed parts of the body and resolves as the skin cools off." So if your child's rash begins on their face and spreads, check in with your child's doctor immediately, especially if they have other symptoms of the virus. If your child's rash begins in covered parts of the skin or skin folds and seems to get better with topical soothing treatments and they have no other symptoms, it's likely a heat rash, according to Dr. Kramer.
"With the increase in rates of unvaccinated children, there have been some outbreaks of measles in recent years," Dr. Kramer says, but he also notes that sometimes vaccinated children can occasionally develop a rash after vaccination. He advises moms to bring their child in to see a doctor if they have any doubts, just to be safe.
While rashes can be scary, it's good to educate yourself on the difference between a harmless skin irritation and something more sinister. In the summer months, when there's more sweat and heat that can cause a rash on your child's skin, it's good to know that's likely all it is if they're not otherwise sick. But still, don't hesitate to bring your child in to be examined if you have even the slightest doubt. It's always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your child's health.