Rashes in babies and children are very common and are often not serious or even completely harmless. But there are certainly some situations in which seeking prompt medical attention is worthwhile. Rashes vary in their presentation and severity. Some are itchy, others can be sore – many are neither. Sometimes they come and go by themselves, other times they persist until treated.
So, how do you tell if a rash is serious? The first big question – are they unwell? For example, do they have a temperature and or do they appear unwell in any way? The second question – what does the rash look like?
As a parent, it is important to trust your instincts. You should never feel embarrassed to seek medical advice, and your GP or Health Direct can be a good starting place if you feel it is not an urgent issue.
That being said, if you are worried it is more serious, seek advice immediately. Naturally, we all worry about meningococcal disease and have been taught that fever plus a rash is a bad sign. Thankfully, meningococcal is rare compared to other causes of infective rash in children and the rash is often quite striking – purple, non-blanching (i.e. doesn’t turn white when you press it), small spots or patches like bruises. If you are concerned, get to an emergency department immediately.
In the meantime, there are some excellent resources on the internet via the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and I have linked them here:
Hand foot and mouth disease
Rashes caused by viruses
Above all, remember that rashes in children are common and don’t ever feel embarrassed to seek medical advice!