Viral rash in infants - Does my baby have a rash due to a virus?

Learn about viral rashes in infants, including types, symptoms, and available treatments. Discover the common types of viral rashes, such as Roseola, Chickenpox, Measles, Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, Fifth Disease, Molluscum, and Rubella. Read on to understand how to identify and diagnose a viral rash in babies, how to prevent spreading, and the available treatment options.

As a parent, it's important to be aware that viral rashes are a common occurrence in young children as their immune systems continue to develop. While these rashes are typically harmless, they can cause concern for parents.

In this blog, we will discuss the different types of viral rashes, their symptoms, and available treatment options to help parents feel more informed and prepared.

Types, Identifying and Diagnosing a Viral Rash in Babies

Many viruses cause skin rashes. Some of these viruses are becoming rarer with the widespread use of vaccination.

1. Roseola Or Sixth Disease

**Did you know about 15 percent of children with roseola have febrile seizures due to high fever? **

Roseola also called roseola infantum or sixth disease is a common childhood virus caused primarily by the Human herpes virus 6 (HHV6) that occurs most usually in children under 2 years of age.

The symptoms of roseola are:

  • sudden fever (up to 105°F or 40.6°C) that can last for three to five days

  • Constipation and cough

  • a pink rash made up of small dots that starts in the stomach and then spreads to other parts of the body, usually after the fever goes down

  • Febrile seizures are usually harmless but can cause loss of consciousness or tremors.

There is no known way to prevent roseola from spreading, and no vaccination available. Hand cleanliness is the most effective solution to help prevent the infection from spreading.

2. Chicken Pox

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. The chickenpox vaccine was available in the mid-1990s, so it's not as serious as it used to be.

Symptoms of chickenpox include:

  • Blisters are an itchy rash that usually starts on the upper body and head. It can then spread to other parts of the body before forming a crust and healing.

  • mild fever

  • feel tired and irritable

Chickenpox usually makes a child sick for five to seven days. Your child is contagious to others from one to two days before the rash emerges until the last blisters have healed up if they have chickenpox.

3. Measles

Did you know Measles vaccination resulted in a 73% reduction in measles infections worldwide between 2000 and 2018?

Measles, also known as rubella, is a respiratory virus. However, it can occur in people who have not been vaccinated against these viruses.

Symptoms of measles are

  • runny nose or stuffy nose

  • high temperature (up to or above 104°F or 40°C)

  • cough

  • red, or teary eyes

The rash develops three to five days after the onset of these symptoms. The rash usually appears as flat red patches along the hairline and can later develop into lumps that stand out and spread throughout the body.

4. Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease (HFMD)

Hand, foot, and mouth diseases are usually caused by coxsackie virus which usually affects children under 5 years of age, and even more, aging or older kids can get it too.

It is depicted by:

  • fever

  • sore throat

  • blisters in the mouth

  • flat red patches on the palms of the hands and feet, and sometimes on the elbows, knees, buttocks, and genitals

  • blisters Spots

HFMD easily spreads from one person to another. Although the virus may even be transmitted more than once, overall symptoms will be less severe.

5. Fifth Disease (Or Infectious Erythema Or Slapped Cheek)

The fifth disease, also called infectious erythema, is caused by parvovirus B19.

Early symptoms that appear in most children before the rash include:

  • low temperature

  • runny nose or stuffy nose

  • headache

  • sometimes vomiting and diarrhea

After these symptoms go away, a rash develops. The child's cheeks may become very red and look like they were hit. The rash can have a lacy appearance when it spreads or flares to the arms, legs, and chest.

6. Molluscum

Molluscum is a common viral skin infection that causes small, harmless, expanded spots to appear on the skin, caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus.

Your infant can easily spread molluscum to other persons or to different parts of their own body if infected. Touching the molluscum patches, as well as bath or pool water, bath toys, and towels, may spread it.

Symptoms and signs of molluscum-

  • White pimples

  • Round pearl-colored lumps with a white mark or indentation in the centre

Molluscum patches are normally harmless and non-itchy.

Molluscum spots can last for a few weeks, months, or even a year on the body. Molluscum is frequently unaffected by treatment.

7. Rubella or German Measles

Rubella, also known as German measles, is nearly eliminated by vaccination.

Symptoms of rubella are:

  • low temperature

  • Red-eye

  • to cough

  • have a cold

  • headache

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck usually feel like tenderness in the area behind the ear

  • a rash of red or pink spots that starts on the face and spreads to the body, which can then coalesce into a larger rash

  • itchy

Your child can also have rubella without symptoms. According to the WHO, up to 50 percent of those infected with rubella have no symptoms.

Diagnosis: Viral Rash in Babies

  • Medical history inquiry,

  • examination of rash appearance and season, and

  • In rare cases, blood tests

Treatment: Viral Rash in Babies

  • No antibiotics needed as viral rashes usually disappear on their own.

  • Home remedies: Pain relievers, cool water baths, gentle soap, loose-fitting clothing, rest, and drinking water can ease symptoms.

  • Calamine lotion can be used for itching rash, and cover the area to avoid scratching.

Prevention: Viral Rash in Babies

  • Vaccination,

  • good hygiene,

  • proper cough/sneeze etiquette, and

  • keeping sick children at home care.

Are these viral infections Contagious (Transmissible)?

Viral infections such as chickenpox, rubella, and others are highly contagious and can be spread through mucus, saliva, and touching blister fluid.

The length of contagiousness varies depending on the infection, with some being contagious even before the rash appears and until the rash fades, while others can remain contagious for up to a week after the rash has disappeared.

Consult a doctor if:

  • Serious symptoms such as high fever, headache, and refusal to eat or drink appear.

  • Infants under 6 months develop a new rash or show signs of dehydration.


Most viral rashes without fever are not serious and resolve within a few days to a week. Vaccinations can help prevent some viral rashes. For management of symptoms, over-the-counter pain medications and soothing baths can help a child feel more comfortable. Keep the child at home until fully recovered and consult a doctor if the rash lasts longer than a week or if new or worsening symptoms develop.

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