Causes of Red Bumps on a Child's Body

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Young child with red bumps on her face (Image: s-dmit/iStock/Getty Images)

A variety of conditions and factors can cause red bumps to form on a child’s body. These bumps are the result of the body reacting to a virus or to environmental conditions. Viral rashes, heat rashes, contact allergies, insect bites and infections are some conditions that may cause red bumps on a child's body. See a pediatrician for an accurate diagnosis.

Viral Rashes

Many viruses can cause a red rash to appear on the skin. A child easily contracts viruses from others around him. Examples of viral infections that may cause a red rash include fifth disease, chickenpox and measles. Fifth disease outbreaks often occur during the spring and spread through breathing in contaminated droplets from an infected person exhaling. A lacy, red, raised rash appears on the arms, legs and trunk following a blotchy red rash on the cheeks of the face. Chickenpox rashes appear as red, itchy bumps filled with fluid that will break open and form a scab. The measles causes small pinkish-red, flat bumps to appear on the face and neck and can spread to other areas of the body. A vaccine will help prevent viruses such as chickenpox and measles.

Heat Rash

A heat rash causes small, red bumps to appear on a child’s face, neck and shoulders. The bumps form due to blocked sweat glands. This condition, also referred to as prickly heat or miliaria rubra, occurs most often in hot, humid areas and on children who have a fever or who are overdressed. The red bumps may also cause itching and pain. The condition improves after decreasing the excessive heat to the body.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when a child develops inflammation due to repeat exposure to an irritating product. Some items such as poison ivy, medications or detergents will cause an allergic reaction. Touching the substance can cause red bumps to form on the skin in the area of the exposure. Allergy testing can help determine what is causing the reaction for children with recurring contact dermatitis.

Insect Bites

When an insect bites a child, it leaves a red bump on the skin because of the venom injected during the bite. Depending on the insect, it may bite multiple times or several similar insects may bite during the same exposure time. The bites may sting, itch or become painful. Protecting against insect bites is possible with the use of insect repellents.

Bacterial Infection

Scarlet fever, a series of tiny, rough, raised red bumps that feel like sandpaper, occurs when a streptococcal infection, such as strep throat, goes untreated. A fever may accompany the red rash. Treating the infection will also treat the rash.

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