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May 2018

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Viral Rashes

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Viral Rashes

Post by AlleyRose on Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:14 pm

Many viral infections in early childhood come with a rash.

Key points

  • Rashes usually accompany an underlying illness caused by a virus; symptoms of which may include mild fever, congested/runny nose and a cough.

  • The rash usually lasts for a few days.

  • Consult a doctor if the rash does not blanch (lose its colour when you apply pressure with a clear glass) or is itchy.

A specific type of rash is one of the features used to help diagnose certain illnesses like measles and rubella. However, a number of other viral infections of early childhood are accompanied by a rash.
We don't fully understand why some viruses cause rashes. It could be as a direct result of fever from the infection or the rash could be part of the body's immune response as it learns to defend itself against that particular virus.

Signs and symptoms
Usually, the rash is accompanied by the symptoms of a typical viral upper airway (above the lungs) infection. These include:

  • mild fever

  • congested and runny nose

  • cough with possibly a sore throat

The rash will lose its colour ('blanch') when you apply pressure. This is best seen by pressing a clear glass container or similar on the rash.
There is no typical appearance – some rashes are 'spotty' and raised slightly, while others cover larger areas.
Such rashes are commonly seen on the trunk of the body (not the limbs and face) and they are usually not itchy.

Course and duration
Viral rashes usually last for a shorter time than the underlying illness – usually only a few days.

Spread of infection
It is the underlying viral infection that can be spread, rather than the rash itself. However, not all children who contract the same virus will display the same rash.

Infectious period
This will depend on the underlying illness that is causing the rash.

Most minor upper airway infections in children have the same complications; such as middle ear infections, bronchitis and worsening of asthma in children who already have asthma.

Usually no specific treatment is needed. Give paracetamol for fever and seek treatment of complications such as middle ear infections. You should also ensure your child has plenty of fluids.

Follow the usual common sense hygiene practices. These include encouraging your child to cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and observing good, careful hand hygiene. Alcohol hand cleansers are effective and convenient.

Medical intervention
Always consult a doctor if you are worried about a rash on your child. This is especially important with children who are under 12 months old, who have very high fevers and who are refusing to drink fluids.
You should also ask your doctor to assess the child if the rash does not blanch or is very itchy.

Special notes
Always follow your own judgement when deciding to see a doctor. The younger the child, the less hesitant you should be feel about seeking medical advice.
Sensible doctors will always listen to parents who know their child best.

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