Common Skin Rashes in Children: Pediatrician’s Advice on Managing Them

baby rash


Days are getting longer and hotter and your kids want to be outside. Your children may be at the park, in the swimming pool, or out hiking and walking. As your kids spend more time outdoors, their skin comes into contact with various elements of nature. Here is some advice on how to manage common skin rashes in children during summertime and also for the rest of the year.

1. Sunburn

common rashes in kids

You know that feeling when you’ve been out in the sun just a little too long without reapplying sunscreen. Your skin gets red, sensitive to touch, itchy & sometimes painful depending on how severe the exposure is. Parents, you may feel even worse when your kids are irritated by sunburn and summertime rashes. Sunburn is one of the most common skin rashes in children and needs attention and care just as well.

How to protect your kids from sunburn

  • Apply sunscreen (minimum: SPF 30) to all areas of uncovered skin
  • Reapply every 80-120 minutes.
  • If kids are in & out of the pool (or sweating a lot), use waterproof sunscreen & reapply more frequently.
  • Cream-based sunscreens are less bothersome to sensitive skin and safer for younger kids who might inhale droplets from spray sunscreens.
  • Mineral-based sunscreens with Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide provide broader (UVA + UVB) coverage; They may not be as irritating as chemical sunscreens. 


Tips to prevent sunburn

Stay in cool shaded areas

Under trees, stroller canopies, or covered patios.

Avoid direct midday sunlight

Avoid direct midday sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m and 4 p.m

Have babies wear wide-brimmed hats

Have babies wear wide-brimmed hats & long sleeve shirts/cool cotton pants to keep their skin covered.

Keep them well-hydrated

Babies under six months of age should remain hydrated with breastmilk or formula. They shouldn’t drink water.

If they’re fussy or feel hot

If they’re fussy or feel hot, take them indoors to cool down. 

Treatment of sunburns

Cool baths

Cool baths or cool compresses, calm the skin.

Calamine lotion

Calamine lotion and Aloe vera gel can be soothing.

sunburn is excruciating

If the sunburn is excruciating and begins to blister, or if your child has a fever, call your pediatrician.

2. Eczema

rashes common in kids and babies

This is skin that looks red, rough, dry, and sometimes flaky. It will flare during the cold seasons, especially winter and the heat of the summer. Eczema will often appear in creases of the elbows & knees. Infants might get eczema on their cheeks and face due to the exposure to saliva, dribbles of milk, and constant wiping. Eczema is also considered among the common skin rashes in children.

causes of eczema flare

Certain foods

Especially in infants as they are exposed to new foods

Seasonal allergies

Pearl of Knowledge: Allergies, Asthma & Eczema can all be triggered by exposure to allergens. They often occur together  

Bubble baths/bath bombs

Bubble baths/bath bombs can cause the skin to react to dyes and fragrances.

Chlorine in pools

Chlorine in pools or hot water in hot tubs might affect sensitive skin.

Synthetic or harsh fabrics

Synthetic or harsh fabrics directly against the skin can irritate the skin. It’s best to have soothing soft cotton straight next to the skin of children with eczema.

home remedies for eczema

  • Bathe your child every day for no more than 10 min to help the skin absorb the moisture it needs.
  • Use a hypoallergenic moisturizing soap like Dove to bathe your child.
  • Pat dry after a bath and trap moisture in place with hypoallergenic/fragrance-free lotion from face to toes within 2-3 minutes of getting out of the bath.
  • Moisturize skin with lotion at the end of the day.
  • Use OTC 1% Hydrocortisone to areas of flare twice a day for 7-10 days underneath the lotion to reduce itching & redness.

3. Poison Ivy

poison ivy: rashes in kids

You might remind your kids of the saying you heard while growing up, “Leaves of three, let them be.” If only your kids would let them be, right? 

How do kids get Poison Ivy

Kids brush up

Kids brush up against Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac, and the oils on these plants get stuck to their skin. 

An allergic response

An allergic response to these oils creates redness, swelling, and sometimes blisters.

Kids scratch

Kids scratch their skin, and the oils get trapped underneath their fingernails. 

oil spread

This allows the oil to spread to other parts of their bodies, or even worse, to their siblings. 

Home remedies for Poison Ivy?

  • If possible, prevent contact with the plant by having children wear long sleeves & cotton pants when hiking or playing near a thick brush.
  • Wash exposed skin as soon as possible for 10 minutes with soap and water to keep the oils from settling into the skin.
  • Cut fingernails short to prevent the spread of the oils.
  • Calm skin with calamine lotion or aloe vera gel.
  • Use 1% Hydrocortisone twice a day for a few days to reduce inflammation. 

4. Folliculitis

summertime rashes

You may be familiar with a small pinpoint, red, pimple-type rash that can appear on the skin after having been in a hot tub or dirty pool. It sometimes can occur after re-using a damp bathing suit or sleeping in a pull-up overnight. Folliculitis is a bacterial infection of the hair follicles. The follicles can become painful and sometimes fill with pus. It’ll usually appear 12-24 hours after being exposed to the bacteria in a hot tub or pool. The good thing is, this will usually resolve on its own in a few days. 

Tips to manage folliculitis

  • Don’t allow children to sit in hot tubs or in pools that aren’t maintained regularly.
  • If they do develop folliculitis, use warm compresses for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times a day to soothe the skin.
  • Applying 1% Hydrocortisone to the flared area twice a day might help reduce redness & inflammation
  • For lack of improvement or spreading redness, see your pediatrician. Your child may need antibiotics. 

5. Heat Rash 

common skin rashes in children

Sweat can provoke a heat rash, especially in babies and active kids who spend a lot of time outdoors. Heat rashes in babies occur when sweat clogs the pores; it can’t escape, so the skin gets red and tiny pimple-like bumps form. In babies with immature sweat glands, they’ll often get heat rash in the creases of their skin like neck creases, armpits, elbow creases, and groin. Older children who are outside playing will also get the common rashes in kids on their chest and back where they sweat the most. Like folliculitis, this too should resolve in a couple of days once sweat glands begin flowing again.

Tips to prevent heat rashes in kids

  • Calm babies and kids down. If they’re sweating, move them to areas with air conditioning or a fan.   
  • Remove extra layers of clothing and leave the skin open to air if possible.
  • Wear cotton clothing that allows the skin to breathe. Tight synthetic fabrics may not allow the sweat to dissipate.
  • Avoid the use of thick lotions, creams, or ointments when playing outside as that might block the sweat glands. 
  • Use cool, damp washcloths to clean excess sweat/moisture & cool skin down.
  • Wash areas that are always moist/damp like the diaper region in babies. 

Conclusion: Managing common skin rashes in children

Summertime is a fun season, and everyone wants to be outside, especially children. Using these tips, we can protect the skin from certain exposures and skin rashes in children. Not only will kids be less irritable at the end of the day, but we will also be happy knowing they are not uncomfortable as a result of something we could have prevented. Even if something does develop, now we know there are things we can do at home to manage these common skin rashes in children. The option to send a text to your virtual Pediatrician in case of doubt is always available. So go out, maintain the required distance from others, and have fun!

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