Discovering small bumps on your toddler’s skin can lead you to worry that your child may have a contagious illness like measles or mumps, an allergic reaction or some other ailment. Discerning the type of rash and its potential causes can help you determine how to treat the rash. Although rashes rarely indicate any serious problems, call your doctor if you notice a rash anywhere other than your toddler’s diaper area. He can evaluate your child and prescribe an appropriate treatment.
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Toddlers experience frequent rashes due to the wide array of irritants and illnesses they encounter at school or play. The most common causes of tiny skin bumps, according to Dr. William Sears, the author of “The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know from Birth Until Age 2," include eczema, insect bites, heat rash, contact rash and molloscum warts -– small, skin-colored bumps usually located on the chest or upper thighs.
Your doctor will use the physical appearance of your child’s rash, as well as any other symptoms – like itching or fever – to determine its cause. Your doctor might ask you whether your toddler tried any new foods, skin creams or lotions to help him find out what caused her rash. This information can usually help your doctor diagnose the rash without the need for further testing, but your doctor might also conduct allergy skin testing and blood studies, like a complete blood count or a blood differential, to identify the cause of the rash.
Sears cautions that many viral illnesses can also cause a rash, but most do not have a distinctive appearance. If your toddler runs a fever, then breaks out with small bumps, she might have one of these types of illnesses. These types of rashes often start on the trunk and spread to your toddler’s extremities. Viral rashes usually clear on their own within a week or two.
Keeping your toddler’s skin clean, cool and dry can help you avoid skin bumps due to heat rash or contact rash. Avoid over-bundling or over-dressing your toddler. Use a cool wash cloth to wipe his skin down if he becomes hot and sweaty. MedlinePlus cautions against using baby powder to prevent heat or contact rashes since they rarely prevent or alleviate them. Toddlers can accidentally inhale the baby powder, which can cause breathing problems.
Molluscum warts -- skin growths caused by a viral infection -- can spread easily to other parts of your child’s body or to other people. Since the bumps caused by molloscum often itch, your child might infect others by scratching his bumps and then touching other people or other parts of his body. People can also catch the virus by touching surfaces or objects infected with the virus, such as towels or toys belonging to a child with molloscum. The bumps caused by molloscum can linger for six months to a year. After confirming the infection with your doctor, the Babycenter website recommends bandaging bumps not covered by your child’s clothing to prevent them from spreading.