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Children's Health

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Rash, Age 11 and Younger - Home Treatment

Most rashes will go away without medical treatment. Home treatment can often relieve pain and itching until the rash goes away.

If your child has come in contact with a substance that may cause contact dermatitis, such as poison ivy, immediately wash the area with large amounts of water.

Once a rash has developed, leave it alone as much as possible.

  • Use soap and water sparingly.
  • Leave the rash exposed to the air whenever possible.
  • Encourage your child not to scratch the rash.

If your child has a rash, he or she should not be in contact with other children or pregnant women. Most viral rashes are contagious, especially if a fever is present.

Relief from itching

Itching with a rash is generally not serious, but it can be annoying and may make a rash more likely to become infected. Rashes caused by chickenpox, eczema, or contact dermatitis are much more likely to itch. Sometimes itching can get worse by scratching.

Home treatment may help the itching.

  • Keep your child's fingernails clean and short, and encourage him or her not to scratch. Cover your baby's hands with socks to help keep him or her from scratching.
  • Keep your child out of the sun and in a cool place. Heat makes itching worse.
  • Keep the itchy area cool and wet if your child is older than age 9 months. Put cloths soaked in ice water on the rash a few times a day. Too much wetting and drying will dry the skin, which can increase itching. Do not put cloths soaked in ice water on the skin of a baby younger than 9 months. It may cause the baby's body temperature to go down.
  • Add a handful of oatmeal (ground to a powder) to your child's bath. Or you can try an oatmeal bath product, such as Aveeno.
  • Dress your child in cotton clothing. Do not use wool and synthetic fabrics next to the skin.
  • Use gentle soaps, such as Basis, Cetaphil, Dove, or Oil of Olay, and use as little soap as possible. Do not use deodorant soaps on your child.
  • Wash your child's clothes with a mild soap, such as CheerFree or Ecover, rather than a detergent. Rinse twice to remove all traces of the soap. Do not use strong detergents.
  • Do not let the skin become too dry, which can make itching worse.
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