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When to Take Your Child to the ER for a Rash

When to Take Your Child to the ER for a Rash 

When your child has a rash or skin irritation, it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether the best course of action is to treat the rash at home, call your pediatrician or seek emergency care. Common causes of rash may include allergic reactions to shampoos, soaps or detergents; reactions to viral infections; reactions to heat or cold; and reactions to stress or embarrassment. These non-emergency rash causes will generally respond to home care. However, if your child’s rash persists, call your pediatrician. 

With more serious rashes, you may need to seek emergency care. See below for guidance on when to take your child to the pediatric ER for a rash. 

If Your Child Has These Symptoms, Emergency Care May Be Necessary

Seek ER treatment if the rash is accompanied by any of the following: 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin peeling away or blisters in the mouth
  • Swelling or tightness in the throat
  • Areas of tenderness
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Streaks of red
  • Abnormal bleeding or bruises under the rash 

Reactions to Medication

If you believe your child has developed a rash as a reaction to a medication he or she is taking, immediately stop giving your child the medication and call your pediatrician. Do not resume giving your child the medicine until your pediatrician says it is okay. 

Call Your Pediatrician if the Rash Does Not Go Away

A recurring or persistent rash may indicate that your child has an ongoing allergic reaction or a skin condition (such as eczema or psoriasis). In this case, you may not need to take your child to the pediatric ER, but you should make an appointment to see your pediatrician.