A sudden skin rash can be a puzzling and alarming symptom in a child. But as one expert explains, rashes are common in kids and often caused by eczema or an allergic reaction.
“Eczema is a disease that causes patches of dry skin, which is often accompanied by intense itching. Scratching can damage the skin, make the rash worse, and increase the risk for an infection,” says Dr. JiaDe (Jeff) Yu, an assistant professor of adult and pediatric dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
The most common form of eczema in children is atopic dermatitis, which usually starts very early in life.
Eczema goes away with time in many kids, but about half will still have it when they’re adults. There’s no way to know whether childhood eczema will continue into adulthood, but early diagnosis and treatment can prevent it from getting worse, according to Yu.
“About 20% of kids are affected by eczema, and sometimes allergic contact dermatitis can mimic eczema or develop on top of eczema, which makes it even harder to diagnose and treat,” he said in an American Academy of Dermatology news release.
Symptoms of eczema include:
- Dry skin
- Itching, which may be severe, especially at night
- Red to brownish-gray patches, especially on the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, upper chest, eyelids, inside the bend of the elbows and knees, and in infants, the face and scalp
- Small, raised bumps, which may leak fluid and crust over when scratched
- Thickened, cracked, scaly skin
- Raw, sensitive, swollen skin from scratching
Allergic contact dermatitis
Allergic contact dermatitis is a skin reaction to allergens. The most common allergens are metals such as nickel and cobalt, which can be found in costume jewelry, clothing parts such as belt buckles and jean snaps, toys, furniture and school chairs.
Fragrances and preservatives are other common allergens. They can be found in personal care products such as