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Bacterial and Viral Rashes

Fungal and Parasitic Rashes

Because children often share many things and are less likely to take cleanliness precautions than adults, parasites and fungal infections can spread quickly through a day care or your child's class at school. Pay attention to any prolonged itching or hair loss your child might experience.


Scabies is an itchy rash that is often worsened with bathing or at night. It is caused by a mite, a very small insect (Sarcoptes scabiei) that burrows beneath the top layer of skin. It is spread by close bodily contact such as sleeping together or sharing of clothing. It can also be sexually transmitted. Mites can survive for several days in clothes, bedding, and dust.

  • Symptoms
    • The rash starts about 2 weeks after your child has come into contact with the mite.
    • The itchy rash of scabies tends to be found between the fingers, in the armpits, and on the inner wrists and arms. It tends to spare the head, palms, and soles except in infants and with severe infestations.
    • Sometimes you can see the wavy pattern the where the mite has burrowed.
  • Treatment
    • To prevent scabies, good hygiene, frequent hand washing, and not sharing clothing with friends is important.
    • If your child has an itchy rash that lasts for more than 2-3 days, he or she should be checked by a doctor.
    • Prescription medications are available to kill the mites and to decrease the allergic skin reactions of swelling and itch.
    • Once anyone in the family is diagnosed with scabies, everyone in the home should be treated for mite infestation.
    • All clothing and bedding must be washed in hot water and the mattresses vacuumed.


Ringworm is a local infection of the skin with a fungus, usually Microsporum canis, Microsporium audouinii, or Trichophyton tonsurans. Doctors refer to these infections as "tinea" with several forms such as tinea corporis (ringworm on the body) and tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp). Although the 2 are caused by the same organisms, they are treated differently. Ringworm can be caught from friends (exchanging combs, brushes, or hats) or from household pets. If you think your child may have ringworm, you should see your doctor.

  • Symptoms
    • With tinea corporis, the lesion starts as a red, slightly scaly, oval that gets bigger over time.
    • The rash may be slightly itchy.
    • The center of the rash may clear and appear to be normal skin.
    • Tinea capitis usually starts with a round to oval area on the scalp that loses its hair.
    • Sometimes, the area of the scalp will swell and may ooze. This is called a kerion and is a reaction of the body to the tinea fungus.
    • Tinea capitis may also present as normal-to-severe dandruff without hairless patches on the scalp.
  • Treatment
    • Tinea corporis can easily be treated with topical medications available from your doctor.
    • Unfortunately, it can be easily spread among family members and friends, making multiple unwanted return visits.
    • Good hygiene combined with appropriate therapy can break this cycle.
    • If complications such as a secondary bacterial skin infection occurs,or there is no improvement after four weeks, call your doctor.
    • Tinea capitis requires an oral medication from your doctor.

Athlete's foot

Athlete's foot (tinea pedis) is also caused by a fungal infection of the skin.

  • Symptoms
    • A very itchy rash between the toes is usually caused by athlete's foot.
  • Treatment
    • Although athlete's foot can be treated with over-the-counter medications, other causes of rash can appear similar. It is best to have your child checked by the doctor if you suspect athlete's foot.

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