A 3-Year-Old Vomiting and a Skin-Colored Rash on the Face

Three-year-old children are prone to picking up many of the viruses that they come into contact with, partly because they have not yet fully developed their immune system and partly because they tend to touch everything they see. When your 3-year-old begins vomiting and develops a skin-colored rash on her face, you will naturally wonder how serious the condition is and how quickly you should seek medical assistance.

A mother kisses the forehead of her child who is sick in bed and holding a thermometer. (Image: Artfoliophoto/iStock/Getty Images)


One possibility is that your 3-year-old is experiencing an allergic reaction. The rash may be hives, which can appear as pale or reddish raised welts anywhere on his body. When the hives appear with vomiting, the allergic reaction is usually severe, according to the Ask Dr. Sears website. Ask your child what she last ate or if she touched anything before vomiting began, such as a plant or an animal; this might reveal the source of the problem. If you suspect your child has ingested something toxic, call poison control or seek emergency medical help.

Scarlet Fever

Your 3-year-old's rash may be a symptom of scarlet fever. Although the rash is characterized by a red rash with small bumps, the face is usually affected and the rash may be less red, according to the KidsHealth website. Scarlet fever is caused by group A streptococcus bacteria, which is the same bacteria that causes strep throat. The most common symptoms are the rash, vomiting, fever, body aches or a white coating on the throat or tongue.

Septicemia or Meningitis

Your child's vomiting and rash may be the result of septicemia or meningitis. Meningitis and septicemia are related; meningitis is the swelling of the lining around the brain or the spinal cord, whereas septicemia is blood poisoning caused by the bacteria or virus that causes meningitis, according to the Meningitis Research Foundation. If your 3-year-old has septicemia or meningitis, her first symptoms may be vomiting, fever or headache, and she may develop pale or mottled skin or a bumpy rash that may appear light brown and later develop into large red bumps.

When to Consult a Pediatrician

Whenever your 3-year-old develops an unusual rash, contact your pediatrician for an appointment. Three-year-olds may have a poor recollection of what they came in contact with or ate, but a pediatrician can determine the cause of the problem. Rashes are generally not a cause for concern but in some instances, such as with allergy, scarlet fever or meningitis, the rash and the underlying illness will need to be treated. Go right to the emergency room if your child begins to have problems breathing or if you suspect she has septicemia or meningitis. These conditions can be life-threatening and require immediate treatment.

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