Is it an allergic reaction, or something more serious?

That’s the question many parents ask themselves when their child breaks out in a rash. It could be the result of a skin allergy such as atopic eczema, contact dermatitis, or urticaria (hives).

Atopic eczema

Atopic eczema is a condition that causes extreme itching of the skin and dry, flaky patches.

In more severe cases, the skin can be red, scaly, or oozing. The effect can be similar to psoriasis, which is not an allergy, but an autoimmune disease that leads to skin redness and irritation.

Hives (or urticaria)

Hives are red, raised, itchy bumps.

Unlike a meningitis rash, they will go white in the centre when pressed. They are sometimes caused by a food allergy.

Similar bumps may appear if you have contact dermatitis – a reaction to an irritant such as the chemicals in many skincare and cosmetic products and detergents. It can also be caused by exposure to certain metals and to latex.

If you have any doubt about the cause of a rash or skin irritation, check with your doctor, particularly if you or your child is also experiencing a fever.

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