Best Treatments for Common Childhood Rashes

Pediatric Dermatology Basics

The classic erythema migrans rash on a patient with Lyme disease.
A moisturizer or steroid isn't going to help a Lyme disease rash. Photo by CDC/ James Gathany / Getty Images

Rashes are a common reason that parents bring their children to their pediatrician.

Unfortunately, it isn't always easy to know what is causing these skin rashes or how to treat them.

Basic Treatments for Rashes

Not surprisingly, parents often follow the simple advice that medical students learn as a "pearl" in medical school, which is that:

  • if a rash is dry, make it wet
  • if a rash is wet, dry it out
  • and if nothing else is working, put a steroid on it

    Although these treatments sometimes work, it is more likely because many rashes are temporary and go away on their own, instead of your treatment actually working. For example, the ringworm rashes often appear dry, but a moisturizer (making it wet) won't make it go away. And a steroid will likely make a ringworm infection much worse.

    Better Treatments for Rashes

    Treatments for rashes work much better when you actually know what is causing the rash.

    These disease specific treatments might include a moisturizer for dry skin, steroid for eczema, antifungal cream for ringworm, or anti-itch medications for chicken pox, etc.

    Other common, and some not so common rashes that kids get include:

    Whether they are caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection or an allergic reaction or some other condition, it helps to know which rash you have before you start treatment.

    Continue Reading