How to Prevent and Treat 5 Common Rashes Children Bring Home from Preschool
One of the first lessons kids learn in preschool is how to share. Some of them get so good at it that they share everything — their lunch, their school supplies, and even their illnesses.
Rashes can be highly contagious, but are preventable with a few simple steps.
Dr. Ravneet Dhaliwal at Night Watch Pediatric Urgent Care sees lots of rashes, like eczema, and she can help you learn what to look for when your preschooler comes home. Dr. Dhaliwal can put your mind at ease and treat your child’s rash with expertise and compassion.
Here are the five most common types your preschooler might have.
1. Hand-foot-mouth disease
True to its name, hand-foot-mouth disease affects all three body parts and shows up as small, red blisters or sores in the back or the mouth, on the palms, and on the bottom of the feet. Untrue to its name, it can also spread to the arms, legs, and buttocks, and it may cause a fever.
This condition is caused by a virus and usually travels from one child to another through oral fluids. That means your kid may have gotten it by sharing a drinking cup or eating utensils with a friend. To help prevent hand-foot-mouth disease, make sure your child understands the difference between sharing toys and sharing germs.
Because fevers can dehydrate a child quickly, make sure you offer plenty of fluids. And if needed, acetaminophen can help reduce discomfort and fever.
2. Poison ivy, oak, or sumac
You don’t have to live (or go to school) in the forest to get poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac; these plants can live in a wide variety of environments. They also contain an oily substance called urushiol that sticks to skin and causes red, swollen, itchy blisters.
The rash itself isn’t contagious, but if one child has urushiol on their skin or clothing and another child comes into contact with it, the rash can spread. The best way to help your child stay safe is to teach them how to identify the toxic foliage and avoid it.
Treat the rash with a cool bath and soothing lotion.
3. Fifth disease
Symptoms of fifth disease might fool you into thinking your child has a common cold: headache and runny nose. Then a mild fever sets in, and you think it’s the flu. But when you see the lacy rash on their thighs and torso, you realize it’s fifth disease, a common childhood illness.
The rash may also creep up to the cheeks, which gave it its nickname “slapped cheek rash,” and pop up on other parts of the body. Your child might also complain of being tired and achy.
By the time one child has symptoms, the rest of the class is at risk. Teaching your child to cover coughs and sneezes, wash their hands frequently, and stay away from sick people can help. Fifth disease resolves on its own, and you can keep your child comfortable by treating them with acetaminophen.
Hive are not necessarily a preschool rash, but if your child is allergy prone, they might come into contact with substances or objects -- like glue, paint, ink, lotions, soaps, detergents, even other kids’ clothing -- that can trigger hives, which are itchy and look like smooth red bumps.
Once you and your child learn the hive-causing culprits, prevention becomes as simple as avoiding them. Hives are not contagious, and most cases are easily treated with calming creams and an antihistamine, like Benadryl™. But if your child’s reaction includes difficulty breathing or swallowing, seek immediate medical attention.
Another common childhood affliction is impetigo, a rash caused by a bacterial infection. It most often appears on the face near the nose and mouth, but it can show up on arms and legs as well. The bacteria usually enter through a cut or scrape.
The rash looks like little cluster of blisters that become crusty and yellowish, surrounded by reddish skin. Kids can pass it to one another if they come into contact with the sores or anything that has touched the sores, like clothing or toys.
Antibiotic ointments may help, but often an oral medication is needed to help resolve impetigo. Again, sharing and touching each other are two of the main ways this rash transfers, so keeping your child home when they have impetigo is important in order to prevent other kids from getting it.
If your child comes home with a rash, don’t worry; it’s usually treatable, sometimes preventable, and often harmless. If you have questions about rashes or any childhood illnesses, give our office in Manassas, Virginia, a call or reserve an appointment online.