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Saturday, August 20, 2016

What to do when you see a rash on your child

Rashes are any spots or blotches that appear on the skin. They can be of different kinds. Each kind of rash has a medical name, but we will try and talk about this without using jargon.

This post is about rashes that occur in an ill child. We are going to ignore rashes that have been present for a long time, and most probably represent a skin condition needing the attention of a skin specialist (dermatologist). We are also going to stay away from spots that occur due to any condition in the newborn period.

Having said that, this discussion is mostly about spots or rashes that appear acutely, and are a hallmark of an acute medical condition that needs urgent attention. We will be speaking about rashes that indicate infection, and rashes that are actually bleeds in the skin and may indicate EITHER an infection, an immune condition, a bleeding disorder or even a malignancy.

Let me begin by talking about spots that occur in a child presenting with fever, reduced feeding, or/and vomiting of acute onset. There are TWO main kinds of rashes - from the point of view of their being harbingers of something serious. A BLANCHING rash is rash that disappears when you press it with a transparent item such as a plastic or glass plate. A NON-BLANCHING rash is one that DOES NOT similarly disappear. Between the two, a blanching rash is more likely to be a benign one, and may suggest a viral infection. A non-blanching rash is the one to be taken seriously. It may be a harbinger of infection with a particularly fast-attacking germ that is called the MENINGOCOCCUS. It can cause sepsis or meningitis very very quickly and can kill the affected child within hours when it is severe. This infection is more common in the west, although, with time, its incidence is likely to decline since vaccination is now available against most of the kinds of this deadly organism.

The test described above to differentiate between the two kinds of rashes is called the GLASS TEST. Every parent should be aware of this test and know how it is to be done. - The Glass Test
Important disclaimer: A rash is harder to see and understand in someone with dark skin. Always contact your doctor if you are unable to understand the rash.

Coming to bleeding rashes in the skin. These can be pin-point like or large blotches that are raised above the level of the skin. Both  these rashes can be the rash of meningococcus described above. However, they can also indicate a bleeding condition such as a defect in the function of the coagulation system of the body, a platelet disorder or a blood cancer. Whenever you see someone who has one of these skin rashes, please contact the doctor or your health representative urgently, and within an hour if feasible, especially if the child has been unwell.

I hope this helps you to understand rashes on the skin of an acutely unwell child better. Thank you for reading this post. Do leave your comments.

Remember  to click on the links above for more information on the subjects therein.


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  3. you got a lot of very useful health tips over here Doc

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  5. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always exciting to read through articles from other authors and practice something from their websites.


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