Rashes may be caused by a virus and disappear after just a few days without treatment. However, other types of rashes can be a sign of a more serious illness like measles.


Washing hands with soap for 20 seconds and thoroughly drying them is one of the most important measures to protect your child’s skin from viruses and bacteria. 

Always wash hands before:  

  • eating  
  • preparing food. 

And after: 

  • sneezing coughing or blowing your nose 
  • playing outside 
  • going to the toilet 
  • touching animals. 

Types of rashes

Rashes can appear as raised bumps, hives, redness, blisters, welts, or any combination of these. It can be hard to figure out what is causing your child’s rash and it may last a few hours or a few weeks, depending on the type:

  • Nappy rash:  red, irritated skin rash in the area covered by your baby's nappy
  • Eczema: dry itchy skin is commonly found behind the knees and on arms, hands, neck and face
  • Ringworm: often appears on the scalp and can cause round, painful red patches
  • Scabies: small blisters that grow on the skin, caused by a tiny insect, called a mite  
  • Hives: a common, itchy rash that can appear anywhere on the body  
  • Slap cheek: usually bright red cheeks that look like a slap mark  
  • Chickenpox: usually starts with a mild fever, followed by red, itchy spots that last for a few days 
  • Measles: a serious disease that’s easy to catch. A blotchy rash starts on the face, then moves behind the ears, over the head and down the body. Call a doctor if you think your child may have measles 
  • Food allergies: redness, or hives can develop after your child has certain foods 
  • Meningitis: looks like small pin pricks and later develops into red or purple bruise-like blotches. Call PlunketLine, or your doctor immediately if you think your child may have meningitis – it’s a very serious illness.


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Some rashes can be treated with over-the-counter medications from your pharmacy, but in other cases, your child may need to see a doctor for a prescription.  

When to visit a doctor

A rash may be a sign of a more serious illness and the symptoms that come with your child’s rash are important to watch. If your child has a rash, watch them to see: 

  • if they're miserable  
  • if they're responsive 
  • if they're still feeding/eating
  • if they have a fever.

If your little one seems unwell, you're worried, or if you think the rash is getting worse, call PlunketLine or visit your doctor.

When to call 111

Immediately call for an ambulance if your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • is having trouble breathing
  • is unresponsive.