Causes of a Rash on the Hands of a Child

It's impossible to monitor every single item an inquisitive child chooses to touch. Unfortunately concerns regarding safety may arise when a child suddenly exhibits a rash on her hands. There are many different factors that contribute to a hand rash, but some causes of hand rash in children are more common than others. Knowledge of some common causes of hand rash will help guardians and caregivers make prudent decisions regarding how to respond to such symptoms.

Rash on child's hand. Credit: Mustafa Arican/iStock/Getty Images


Tinea is a form of fungus that commonly causes a red, itchy raised patch to grow on the skin. Children can be infected with the fungus by touching another person or animal that has the infection or by contact with contaminated surfaces in locker rooms or other humid locales. Ringworm can cause infection of the fingernails, causing them to become thick, brittle and discolored. This infection is easily curable via the use of antifungal medications prescribed by a doctor, according to KidsHealth.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis

Some substances can cause rashes due to their ability to irritate the skin surface rather than due to an immunological response. Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when chemical or physical agents damage skin cells at a rate that is more rapid than the body's ability to fix the damage. A child who comes into contact with soaps, solvents or adhesives that injure the skin may exhibit the signs of contact dermatitis on the hands.

DermNet NZ explains that exposure to an irritant of this sort will typically cause a well-demarcated area of damage, accompanied by blistering, itching pain or swelling.


Scabies is another contagious conditions that can cause rashes on a child's hands. This disease is spread through skin contact that transfers tiny mites from person to person. Crowded conditions such as schools can increase a child's chances of exposure to scabies.

The mites burrow under the skin and lay eggs, causing lines to appear on the skin's surface, sometimes along with a bumpy red rash. It commonly appears on the hands between the fingers and on the inner wrists. Scratching of this rash should be discouraged, as it can lead to bacterial infections such as impetigo, warns KidsHealth.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Poison ivy is one of many possible substances that can cause allergic skin reactions in those that are allergically sensitive to them. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when a person's skin comes in contact with a substance that the immune system misidentifies as a physical threat. In response, the body mounts a defensive reaction to the harmless substance, flooding the area with histamines and white blood cells.

Allergens vary from person to person. Though many people experience an allergic hypersensitivity to poison ivy, a child's allergic contact dermatitis may result from touching something that is less commonly an allergen.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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