Abdominal Pain - Female
Abdominal Pain - Male
Acne
Animal or Human Bite
Antibiotics: When Do They Help
Arm Injury
Arm Pain
Asthma Attack
Athlete's Foot
Back Pain
Bed Bug Bite
Bee or Yellow Jacket Sting
Blisters
Bottle-Feeding Formula Questions
Breast-Feeding Questions
Bruise
Burn
Chest Pain
Chickenpox
Circumcision Problems
Colds
Constipation
Cough
Coughs: Meds or Home Remedies
Cracked or Dry Skin
Cradle Cap
Croup
Crying Baby - Before 3 Months Old
Crying Child - 3 Months and Older
Cut, Scrape, or Bruise
Diaper Rash
Diarrhea
Diarrhea Diseases From Travel
Dizziness
Drinking Fluids - Decreased
Dry Skin
Ear - Congestion
Ear - Discharge
Ear - Injury
Ear - Pulling At or Rubbing
Ear - Swimmer's
Ear Infection Questions
Earache
Earwax Buildup
Ebola Exposure
Eczema
Emergency Symptoms Not to Miss
Eye - Allergy
Eye - Foreign Body or Object
Eye - Injury
Eye - Pus or Discharge
Eye - Red Without Pus
Eye - Swelling
Fever
Fever - How to Take the Temperature
Fever - Myths Versus Facts
Fifth Disease
Finger Injury
Fire Ant Sting
Flu
Fluid Intake Decreased
Food Allergy
Foreskin Care Questions
Frostbite
Genital Injury - Female
Genital Injury - Male
Hair Loss
Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease HFMD
Hay Fever
Head Injury
Headache
Heat Exposure and Reactions
Heat Rash
Hives
Human or Animal Bite
Immunization Reactions
Impetigo - Infected Sores
Infection Exposure Questions
Influenza - Seasonal
Influenza Exposure
Insect Bite
Jaundiced Newborn
Jellyfish Sting
Leg Injury
Leg Pain
Lice - Head
Lymph Nodes - Swollen
Medication - Refusal to Take
Mental Health Problems
Molluscum
Mosquito Bite
Mosquito-Borne Diseases from Travel
Motion Sickness
Mouth Injury
Mouth Ulcers
Neck Pain or Stiffness
Newborn Appearance Questions
Newborn Illness - How to Recognize
Newborn Rashes and Birthmarks
Newborn Reflexes and Behavior
Nose Allergy Hay Fever
Nose Injury
Nosebleed
Penis-Scrotum Symptoms
Pinworms
Poison Ivy - Oak - Sumac
Puncture Wound
Rash or Redness - Localized
Rash or Redness - Widespread
Reflux Spitting Up
Ringworm
Roseola
Scabies
Scrape
Sinus Pain or Congestion
Skin Foreign Body or Object
Skin Injury
Skin Lump
Sliver or Splinter
Sore Throat
Spider Bite
Spitting Up - Reflux
Stomach Pain - Female
Stomach Pain - Male
Stools - Blood In
Stools - Unusual Color
Strep Throat Exposure
Strep Throat Infection
Sty
Sunburn
Suture Questions
Swallowed Foreign Body or Object
Swallowed Harmless Substance
Swimmer's Itch - Lakes and Oceans
Tear Duct - Blocked
Teething
Thrush
Tick Bite
Toe Injury
Toenail - Ingrown
Tooth Injury
Toothache
Umbilical Cord Symptoms
Urinary Tract Infection - Female
Urination Pain - Female
Urination Pain - Male
Vaginal Symptoms
Vomiting With Diarrhea
Vomiting Without Diarrhea
Warts
Wheezing Other Than Asthma
Wound Infection

Resources

Is Your Child Sick?TM


Rash or Redness - Localized

Is this your child's symptom?

  • Rash on one small part of the body (localized)
  • Red or pink rash
  • Small spots, large spots or solid redness
  • Includes redness from skin irritation

Causes of Localized Rash or Redness

  • Irritants. A rash in just one spot is usually caused by skin contact with an irritant.
  • Plants. Many plants cause skin reactions. Sap from evergreens can cause a red area.
  • Pollen. Playing in the grass can cause a pink rash on exposed skin.
  • Pet Saliva. Some people get a rash where a dog or cat has licked them.
  • Food. Some children get a rash if a food is rubbed on the skin. An example could be a fresh fruit. Some babies get hives around the mouth from drooling while eating a new food.
  • Chemicals. Many of the products used in the home can be irritating to the skin.
  • Insect Bite. Local redness and swelling is a reaction to the insect's saliva. Can be very large without being an allergy. Kids often get mosquito bites without anyone noticing it.
  • Bee Sting. Local redness and swelling is a reaction to the bee's venom. Can be very large without being an allergy.
  • Cellulitis. This is a bacterial infection of the skin. The main symptom is a red area that keeps spreading. Starts from a break in the skin (such as a scratched insect bite). The red area is painful to the touch.
  • Other Common Causes. Look at the "See Other Care Guide" section. 8 rashes that you may be able to recognize are listed there. If you suspect one of them, go there. If not, use this guide.

Localized Versus Widespread Rash: How to Decide

  • Localized means the rash occurs on one small part of the body. Usually, the rash is just on one side of the body. An example is a rash on 1 foot. Exceptions: Athlete's foot can occur on both feet. Insect bites can be scattered.
  • Widespread means the rash occurs on larger areas. Examples are both legs or the entire back. Widespread can also be on most of the body surface. Widespread rashes always occur on matching (both) sides of the body. Many viral rashes are on the chest, stomach and back.
  • The cause of a widespread rash usually goes through the blood stream. Examples are rashes caused by viruses, bacteria, toxins, and food or drug allergies.
  • The cause of a localized rash usually is just from contact with the skin. Examples are rashes caused by chemicals, allergens, insect bites, ringworm fungus, bacteria or irritants.
  • This is why it's important to make this distinction.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a common cause of a rash in one area. This is especially true of a small rash that will not go away. Contact dermatitis usually starts as raised red spots. It can change to blisters, as in poison ivy. The rash is itchy. Contact dermatitis is an allergic skin rash. The location of the rash may suggest the cause:

  • Poison ivy or oak: exposed areas, such as the hands.
  • Nickel (metal): anywhere the metal has touched the skin. (Neck from necklaces, earlobe from earrings, or fingers from rings. Stomach from metal snap inside pants, wrist from watch, or face from eyeglass frames.)
  • Tanning agents in leather: tops of the feet from shoes or hands from leather gloves
  • Preservatives in creams, lotions, cosmetics, sunscreens, shampoos: where applied
  • Neomycin in antibiotic ointment: where applied

When to Call for Rash or Redness - Localized

Call 911 Now

  • Not moving or too weak to stand
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Purple or blood-colored spots or dots that's not from injury or friction
  • Age under 1 month old and tiny water blisters
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Bright red area or red streak (but not sunburn)
  • Rash is very painful
  • Fever is present
  • Severe itching
  • Looks like a boil, infected sore or other infected rash
  • Teenager with a rash on the genitals
  • Lyme disease suspected (bull's eye rash and tick bite or contact)
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Blisters without a clear cause (Exception: Poison Ivy)
  • Pimples (Use an antibiotic ointment until seen)
  • Rash grouped in a stripe or band
  • Peeling fingers
  • Rash lasts more than 7 days
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Mild localized rash or redness

Call 911 Now

  • Not moving or too weak to stand
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Purple or blood-colored spots or dots that's not from injury or friction
  • Age under 1 month old and tiny water blisters
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Bright red area or red streak (but not sunburn)
  • Rash is very painful
  • Fever is present
  • Severe itching
  • Looks like a boil, infected sore or other infected rash
  • Teenager with a rash on the genitals
  • Lyme disease suspected (bull's eye rash and tick bite or contact)
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Blisters without a clear cause (Exception: Poison Ivy)
  • Pimples (Use an antibiotic ointment until seen)
  • Rash grouped in a stripe or band
  • Peeling fingers
  • Rash lasts more than 7 days
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Mild localized rash or redness

Care Advice for Localized Rashes

  1. What You Should Know About Localized Rashes:
    • Most new localized rashes are due to skin contact with an irritating substance.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Avoid the Cause:
    • Try to find the cause.
    • Consider irritants like a plant (such as evergreens or weeds). Also, chemicals (such as solvents or insecticides). Irritants also can include fiberglass or detergents. A new cosmetic or new jewelry (such as nickel) may also be the cause.
    • A pet may carry the irritant, as with poison ivy or oak. Also, your child could react directly to pet saliva.
    • Review the list of causes for contact dermatitis.
  3. Do Not Use Soap:
    • Wash the red area once with soap to remove any remaining irritants.
    • Then, do not use soaps on it. Reason: Soaps can slow healing.
    • Cleanse the area when needed with warm water.
  4. Cold Soaks for Itching:
    • Use a cold wet washcloth or soak in cold water for 20 minutes.
    • Do this every 3 to 4 hours as needed. This will help with itching or pain.
  5. Steroid Cream for Itching:
    • If the itch is more than mild, use 1% hydrocortisone cream (such as Cortaid). Put it on the rash.
    • No prescription is needed.
    • Use it 3 times per day.
    • Exception: Do not use for suspected ringworm.
  6. Try Not to Scratch:
    • Help your child not to scratch.
    • Cut the fingernails short.
  7. Return to School:
    • Children with localized rashes do not need to miss any child care or school.
  8. What to Expect:
    • Most of these rashes go away in 2 to 3 days.
  9. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Rash spreads or gets worse
    • Rash lasts for more than 1 week
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Copyright 1994-2017 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC. All rights reserved.

Fifth Disease

There is redness and puffiness of both cheeks; this is the first sign of Fifth's Disease.

Ringworm Rash on Arm

Notice that the area is round and pink. It has a raised rough scaly border. The ring slowly increases in size. It is usually slightly itchy.

Impetigo of Left Cheek

This photograph shows the typical appearance of impetigo. Impetigo is Often covered by a soft, yellow-brown scab or crust.

Diaper Rash

This photo shows a red diaper rash in the area under the diaper.

Any diaper rash that lasts longer than a couple days can become secondarily infected with Candida (yeast). Note the red spots ("satellite lesions") outside the main area of redness.

If a yeast infection is suspected, clotrimazole cream (e.g., Lotrimin; over-the-counter) should be applied 4 times daily.

Select from over 100 symptoms to learn about managing your child's illness.