Location: St.Albans - Hatfield Road
22nd December 2016

Health visitor blog

Health Visitor Blog – Non-Contagious Rashes

This week’s blog will highlight some of the non-contagious rashes that children develop. 

Baby Acne

Baby acne (otherwise known as erythema toxicun) develops primarily on baby’s cheeks, nose and forehead usually within a month of birth.  The small pimples can sometimes present as little puss-filled spots.  These spots blanche with light pressure.  Baby acne tends to get worse before clearing up and in most cases will resolve within two weeks; but it can reoccur.  The exact cause of baby acne is unknown, however, it may be a normal inflammatory or immune response in babies (Tinsley, 2016).


  • Washing the infant’s face with water and a mild moisturiser (fragrance free and designed for babies).  This can improve the appearance of the skin although they are not necessarily needed.
  • Avoid over-washing babies as their skin can dry out easily.

Urticaria (Hives)

Urticaria, commonly known as hives, is a rash that is characterised by a red itchy rash that is sometimes described as weals, welts or a rash similar to what you get if you touch a nettle plant.  Urticaria is a common skin reaction that occurs when a trigger causes high levels of histamine and other chemical messengers to be released in the skin.  Common triggers for Urticaria are allergens such as certain foods or latex but also can by physical factors such as heat and exercise.  The most common food allergens that cause Urticaria are eggs and milk.


  • The rash is usually short-lived and can be controlled by using anti-histamines available over-the-counter.

Urticaria and Anaphylaxis

It is also important to note that Urticaria can be one of the first symptoms of a severe allergic reaction known as Anaphylaxis.  Other symptoms of Anaphylaxis include:

  • Swollen eyes, lips, hands and feet.
  • Feeling light headed of feint.
  • Narrowing of the airways which can cause wheezing or breathing difficulties.
  • Abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.
  • Collapsing and becoming unconscious.

Important: if you are worried or suspect that your child may be having an Anaphylactic reaction it is vital to seek urgent medical attention and call an Ambulance if your child develops any of the aforementioned symptoms.




Sweat Rash/Miliaria

There are three types of sweat rash but the most common is known as Miliaria Rubra (NHS Choices, 2016).  It occurs when the sweat ducts are blocked at a deeper part of the outer layer of the skin and it tends to look like crops of tiny red bumpy spots that are a feel millimetres in size and sometimes look like tiny blisters.  This rash occurs in several areas of the body but is most usual on the face, neck, back, chest or thighs – basically wherever there may be friction with clothes.  The cause of prickly heat/sweat rash is when a person sweats more than usual, eg, when they are in hot or humid weather.  However it is possible to get it in the winter too.  Some people are more prone to it than others and this is thought to be due to the presence of Staphylococcus Aureus on the skin.  Staphylococcus lives harmlessly on the skin but it produces a sticky substance that combined with excess sweat and skin cells may cause sweat cells to block.


  • Avoid excessive heat and humidity.
  • Encourage plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Choose cotton fabrics as opposed to synthetic fabrics such as polyester as they trap heat more easily than natural fibres.
  • Calamine lotion can help soothe irritated skin.  If the skin is dry you can use an emollient.
  • If the rash is persistently itchy or becoming worse it may be that your child may require a short does of mild steroid cream or an antihistamine to control the itching.  This must be assessed by your GP as some children are not suitable for these treatments (Tinsley, 2016).


Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges). The classic rash that is associated with Meningitis usually looks like small red pinpricks at first.  It then quickly spreads over the body and turns into red or purple blotches.  It is advised that parents do the ‘glass test’ (see below) on rashes, especially if your child has any other ‘red flag’ symptoms.


Glass Test

The Glass Test should be done by pressing the side of a clear glass firmly against the skin.  If the rask does not fade, parents should seek medical attention (NHS Choices, 2016).


Meningitis Warning Signs (NHC Choices, 2016)

  • Becoming floppy and unresponsive of stiff with jerky movements.
  • Becoming irritable and not wanting to be held.
  • Unusual crying.
  • Vomiting and refusing feeds.
  • Pale and blotchy skin.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Staring expression.
  • Very sleepy with a reluctance to wake up.
  • Fever.
  • Swelling of the fontanelle.

Important: If your child has the above symptoms but no rash, do not wait for a rash to occur; get urgent medical attention.