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What Are the Main Causes of Skin Rashes in Kids?

What are rashes?

Rashes are abnormal changes in skin color and texture. Hives, eczema, hear rash, contact dermatitis, folliculitis and swimmer’s itch are some causes of childhood skin rashes.

Rashes are abnormal changes in skin color or texture. Rashes can sometimes be a sign or symptom of an underlying medical condition. Most often, rashes in children are caused by contact with an irritating substance or with something that causes an allergic reaction called an allergen. Certain genes also make some kids more likely to get rashes than others.

Symptoms of skin rashes in children

A rash, also called dermatitis, is swelling or irritation of the skin. Rashes may be red, blotchy, inflamed, dry, scaly, and/or itchy. Rashes can also consist of lumps, bumpiness, blisters, or pimples. Some rashes develop right away. Others form over several days. Most rashes clear up after/within a few days, but some can be recurring.

Types and causes of skin rashes in children

Many things can cause skin rashes in children. Most are easy to treat and will heal quickly. Common types of skin rashes in kids include:


Hives are red, pink, or flesh-colored swollen bumps that may appear on your child’s body when a chemical called histamine is released in response to an allergen. The trigger, or cause, could be a certain food, medicine, or bug bite. Hives can also be produced by pressure, cold, heat, etc.


Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema is common in children. Eczema can cause bumpy, chapped, and dry skin, especially around the elbows and knees. More severe cases of eczema may cause red, scaly, and swollen skin all over your child’s body. 

Irritant contact dermatitis 

Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by skin contact with an irritating substance. This could be certain soaps or detergents, chemicals, solvents, or acidic materials. This rash may be itchy, red, and/or swollen.

Allergic contact dermatitis 

Allergic Contact Dermatitis is caused by an allergen. Some examples include hair dye, latex, or nickel. This type of rash may look red, scaly, or crusty where the substance touched your child’s skin. 

Urushiol, the oil in poison ivy, oak, and sumac, can also cause this kind of rash.

Heat rash

Heat rash occurs when perspiration (sweat) can’t escape because the sweat gland pores are blocked. It’s very common in young children. Heat rash can appear anywhere. It causes patches of small pink or red bumps or blisters, and it typically occurs under clothing or spots in skin creases and folds.


Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection that’s more common during hot, humid weather. It causes a rash that may have blistering, oozing, and/or scabbing and crusting.

Swimmer’s itch

Swimmer’s itch, or cercarial dermatitis, is common in kids that spend time in lakes or oceans. This rash is caused by tiny parasites found in shallow, warm water, typically along the shore. The parasites burrow into the skin and cause tiny reddish, raised spots. Welts and blisters may also appear.


Folliculitis, sometimes called hot tub rash, is an itchy, pimply rash that occurs when bacteria in dirty pools or hot tubs get into the hair follicles. The affected skin becomes infected and inflamed, sometimes forming small blisters. A similar rash can occur if your child spends a lot of time in a wet bathing suit. 

Molluscum virus 

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection that can cause pearly bumps on your child’s arms, back, chest, or legs. These dome-shaped bumps are also known as “water warts.” Sometimes there are dimples in the center of the bumps. 

Hand, foot, & mouth disease

Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease (HFMD) is very common in young children. It can easily spread in places like daycare centers, preschools, summer camps, and schools.  Caused by the virus enterovirus coxsackie, HFMD usually starts with cold-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, and runny nose. Soon after, a rash with tiny blisters may appear on any or all the following areas of your child’s body:

  • Buttocks
  • Fingers or palms of the hands
  • Mouth
  • Soles of the feet

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