Common Summertime Skin Rashes in Children

Sunny days and starlit evenings spent playing, splashing, and exploring can leave kids with more than warm summertime memories. Balmy weather also can lead to itchy, irritated skin.

1. Heat Rash

heat rash - image - healthychildren.orgHeat rash (also known as prickly heat or miliaria) is seen most often in babies and young children when sweat gland pores become blocked and perspiration can’t escape. The rash looks like patches of small pink or red bumps or blisters under clothing or spots where skin tends to fold—on the neck, elbows, armpits, or thighs—although heat rash can occur on other covered areas.

 What parents can do:

  • Keep kids cool. Dress your child in clothing that keeps the skin cool and dry. If possible, use fans and air conditioning to avoid overheating.
  • Pay attention to hot spots. Wash areas of the skin that stay wet with sweat, urine, or drool with cool water. Pat them dry.
  • Keep skin bare. Leave areas open to air without clothing. Do not apply skin ointments.

2. Poison Ivy & Other Plant Rashes

Poison Oak or Ivy - Image - HealthyChildren.orgMany children get a burning, intensely itchy rash where their skin touches plants—such as poison ivy, poison oak, sumac—containing a sticky oil called urushiol. An allergic skin reaction causes redness, swelling and blisters. Other plants—such as wild parsnip, giant hogweed, and citrus—contain chemicals that make skin hypersensitive to sunlight and cause a phytophotodermatitis rash.

What parents can do:

  • Prevent exposure. Teach your child what these plants look like and how to avoid them. Both poison ivy and poison oak have shiny green leaves that grow three to a stem, so you might share the rhyme: “Leaves of three, let them be.” The sumac shrub has stems that contain 7-13 leaves arranged in pairs, while wild parsnip and giant hogweed have clusters of small, flat-topped yellow and white flowers. If you have younger children, inspect the parks they play in and have rash-causing plants removed.Ivy Parsnip Hog weed - Image - HealthyChildren.org
  • Wash and trim. If your child comes into contact with these plants, wash all of his or her clothes and shoes in soap and water. Also, wash the area of the skin that was exposed with soap and water for at least 10 minutes after the plant or the oil is touched. To discourage scratching and further damage to the skin, keep your child’s fingernails trimmed. This will also prevent the rash from spreading if there is still a small amount of oil under the fingernails.
  • Soothing salves. If the rash is mild, apply calamine lotion to cut down on the itching. Avoid ointments containing anesthetics or antihistamines—they can cause allergic reactions themselves. Another good option to reduce skin inflammation is 1% hydrocortisone cream.
  • Talk with your pediatrician. While mild cases can be treated at home, talk with your pediatrician if your child is especially uncomfortable, the rash is severe and/or isn’t going away, if the rash is on your child’s face or groin area, or if you notice signs of infection (i.e., fever, redness, swelling beyond the poison ivy or oak lesions).

3. Eczema

Eczema - Image - HealthyChildren.orgEczema (also called atopic dermatitis or AD) is a chronic condition common in children that causes patches of dry, scaly red skin and tends to flare up during colder months when there’s less moisture in the air. But dryness caused by air conditioning and pressurized planes during summer travel can cause problems, too. Overheating, sweating and chlorine in swimming pools also can trigger eczema.

What parents can do:

  • Moisturize. Apply fragrance-free creams or ointments at least once a day or more often if needed. After a bath or swimming, gently pat your child’s skin with a towel and then apply moisturizer to his or her damp skin.
  • Dress wisely. Choose clothing made of soft, breathable fabrics like cotton when possible. Wash clothes in a detergent free of irritants such as perfumes and dyes.
  • Don’t scratch. Keep your child’s fingernails short and smooth, and remind him or her not to scratch. Scratching can make the rash worse and lead to infection.
  • Talk with your pediatrician. Ask your child’s pediatrician if allergies, sometimes triggered by trees and plants that bloom during summer, could be a cause of the eczema. Your child’s pediatrician may recommend medicines to help your child feel better and to keep the symptoms of eczema under control.

4. Insect Bites & Stings

Lyme Disease - Image - HealthyChildren.orgRocky Mountain Spotted Fever - Image - HealthyChildren.orgInsects such as bees, wasps, mosquitos, fire ants, and ticks can cause itching and minor discomfort where they prick the skin. For some children, insect bites and stings can cause a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis—which includes a rash or hivesand life-threatening symptoms such as airway swelling. (For children with a known allergy to insect bites and stings, it is important to have anaphylaxis emergency care plan in place). Other times, diseases spread by insects such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Zika Virus can cause rashes and other health problems.

What parents can do:

  • Avoidance. When spending time outdoors, avoid scented soaps and shampoos and brightly colored clothing—they can attract insects. If possible, steer clear of areas where insects nest and gather (i.e., stagnant pools of water, uncovered food, and blooming flowers).
  • Use insect repellent. Products with DEET can be used on the skin, but look for family-friendly products that contain concentrations of no more than 30% DEET. Wash the insect repellent off with soap and water when your child returns indoors.
  • Cover up. When in wooded areas or in or near tall grass, stay on cleared trails as much as possible. Have your child wear a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and hat. Avoid wearing sandals in an area where ticks may live.
  • Look closely. Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks. After coming indoors, check for ticks on your child’s skin—they often hide behind the ears or along the hairline.
  • Remove stingers and ticks. To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently scrape it off horizontally with a credit card or your fingernail. If you find a tick, gently grasp it with fine-tipped tweezers as close to the skin as possible. Without squeezing the tick’s body, slowly pull it away from the skin. See How To Remove A Tick for more information.
  • Clean the skin. After the stinger or tick is out, clean the bitten area with rubbing alcohol or other first aid ointment.
  • Treat swelling. Apply a cold compress or an ice pack to any swelling for at least 10 minutes.
  • Help relieve the itch. Applying ice, along with calamine lotion or 1% hydrocortisone cream, can also help relieve itching.

5.  Impetigo

Impetigo - Image - HealthyChildren.orgImpetigo is a bacterial skin infection that’s more common during hot, humid weather. It causes a rash that may have fluid-filled blisters or an oozing rash covered by crusted yellow scabs. Impetigo is more likely to develop where there is a break in the skin, like around insect bites.

What parents can do:

  • Clean and cover. Clean the infected area with soap and water. Cover the infected area loosely to help prevent contact that would spread the infection to others or to other parts of the body. Wash your own hands well after treating your child’s sores.
  • Avoid scratching. Trim your child’s fingernails and discourage scratching. A child can spread the infection to other parts of his or her body by scratching. You can cover the rash loosely with a bandage to discourage your child from touching the rash, but make sure air can flow through so the skin can heal.
  • Talk with your pediatrician. While mild cases may respond to over-the-counter antibiotics such as bacitracin or bacitracin-polymyxin, impetigo is usually treated with prescription antibiotics—either a skin cream or oral medication. Your pediatrician may order a skin culture (test of your child’s skin) to determine which bacteria are causing the rash.

6. Swimmer’s Itch

Swimmers Itch - Image - HealthyChildren.orgSwimmer’s itch (also called clam digger’s itch or cercarial dermatitis) may appear after playing in lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water. The rash is caused by microscopic parasites found in shallow, warmer water near the shoreline where children tend to stay. The parasites burrow into skin, and cause tiny reddish, raised spots on skin not covered by the swimsuit to appear. Welts and blisters may also form.

What parents can do:

  • Be aware. Don’t swim near or wade in marshy areas where snails are commonly found. Try not to attract birds (by feeding them, for example) where your family swims. Birds may eat the snails and spread the parasites in the water.
  • Shower or towel dry. Shower or briskly rub the skin with a towel immediately after getting out of the water. The parasites start to burrow when the water on skin begins evaporating. If your skin child’s skin stings with rubbing—and the rash appears under the swimsuit—he or she may instead have Seabather’s Eruptionfrom stinging larvae of sea critters such as jellyfish or sea anemone. Stop rubbing and shower instead.
  • Don’t scratch. Trim your child’s fingernails and discourage scratching. Home treatments such cool compresses on the affected areas, Epsom salt or oatmeal baths, or baking soda paste may help to relieve the discomfort. If itching is severe, talk with your child’s pediatrician. He or she may suggest prescription-strength lotions or creams to reduce your child’s symptoms.

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.