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Viral Rash [Child]

Viral infections can affect many different parts of the body. When it affects the skin, it may cause a temporary rash. This usually goes away after a few days, but may last up to two weeks. A viral rash usually does not cause itching or pain, so usually there is no specific treatment required. Occasionally, a more serious infection can look like a viral rash in the first few days of the illness. Therefore, it is important to watch for the warning signs listed below.

Kawasaki disease is a rare but serious cause of a viral rash in children under the age of 5 years. It can cause heart disease if not diagnosed and treated early. There is no test for it. The diagnosis is made by the symptoms. Your child does not have the signs of this disease. However, during the next three weeks watch for the symptoms listed below.

Home Care:

  • FLUIDS: Fever increases water loss from the body. For infants under 1 year old, continue regular feedings (formula or breast). Between feedings give Oral Rehydration Solution (such as Pedialyte, Infalyte, or Rehydralyte, which are available from grocery and drug stores without a prescription). For children over 1 year old, give plenty of fluids like water, juice, Jell-O water, 7-Up, ginger-ale, lemonade, Kool-Aid or popsicles.

  • FEEDING: If your child doesn't want to eat solid foods, it's okay for a few days, as long as s/he drinks lots of fluid.

  • ACTIVITY: Keep children with fever at home resting or playing quietly. Encourage frequent naps. Your child may return to day care or school when the fever is gone and s/he is eating well and feeling better.

  • SLEEP: Periods of sleeplessness and irritability are common. A congested child will sleep best with the head and upper body propped up on pillows or with the head of the bed frame raised on a 6-inch block. An infant may sleep in a car seat placed on the bed.

  • FEVER: Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever, fussiness or discomfort. In infants over six months of age, you may use ibuprofen (Children's Motrin) instead of Tylenol. [NOTE: If your child has chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.] (Aspirin should never be used in anyone under 18 years of age who is ill with a fever. It may cause severe liver damage.)

Follow Up

with your doctor, or as directed by our staff.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) oral or 101.4°F (38.5°C) rectal or higher, not better with fever medication

  • Rapid breathing (over 40 breaths per minute for children less than 3 months old; over 30 breaths per minute for children over 3 months old), wheezing or difficulty breathing

  • Earache, sinus pain, stiff or painful neck, headache, repeated diarrhea or vomiting

  • Rash becomes dark purple

  • No tears when crying; "sunken" eyes or dry mouth; no wet diapers for 8 hours in infants, reduced urine output in older children  

  • Signs of Kawasaki disease (some, but not all of these will be present):

    • High fever that lasts at least five days

    • Unusually irritable, fussy

    • Rash on the trunk or genital area

    • Severe redness of both eyes

    • Red, dry, cracked lips

    • Swollen tongue with a white coating and red bumps

    • Swollen, red rash or peeling on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet

    • Joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal pain

    • Large swollen lymph nodes in the neck

    • Chest pain


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