When should I take my child to the emergency room for a rash?

It can be difficult to determine whether you should treat your child's rash or skin irritation at home, call your pediatrician or seek emergency care. Rashes are commonly caused by:
  • allergic reactions to shampoos, detergents or soaps
  • reactions to hot or cold
  • reactions to stress or embarrassment
  • reactions to a viral infection
Non-emergency rashes will generally respond to home care. If it persists, contact your child's pediatrician.

More serious rashes may require emergency care. The following symptoms may help you determine whether the rash requires a trip to the pediatric emergency room (ER):
  • fever
  • joint pain
  • blisters in mouth or skin peeling away
  • shortness of breath
  • swelling or tightness in the throat
  • areas of tenderness
  • headache
  • streaks of red
  • bleeding or bruising under the rash
If you think your child has developed the rash in reaction to a medication, stop giving it to your child immediately and call your child's pediatrician. Get clearance from your pediatrician before resuming the medication.

If your child is suffering from a recurring or persistent rash, plan a visit to your child's pediatrician. It may indicate an ongoing allergic reaction or a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.