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Viral Infection Rash in Children: What Are the Possible Causes?

Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS · Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Hello Bacsi · Updated Mar 13, 2023

Viral Infection Rash in Children: What Are the Possible Causes?

Sometimes a viral fever with a rash will make many people worry, not knowing if the disease is getting worse or not. This is actually a sign that is associated with many diseases that needs medical attention. What does a viral infection rash in children point to? 

In addition to bacteria and fungi, the body is also capable of being infected with viruses and causing symptoms such as fever, rash, etc. Viral infections occur in all age groups. Although this sign can cause concern, the disease usually resolves on its own once the virus is cleared from the body.

How To Determine If a Rash Is Caused by a Virus

The characteristics of a viral infection rash are varied and can vary from person to person. Most of the time you will see many small red spots appear on the skin. They can come on suddenly or come on gradually over a few days. The location of the rash can be a small area of ​​the body and in many different areas. For example, the measles rash usually starts from the HEAD, spreads down the trunk and then to the hands and feet during the fever.

A viral infection rash also causes itching when you touch the areas . The best way to identify a viral infection rash is to check for other symptoms of a viral infection, such as:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body ache
  • Tiredness

Note: The characteristic of viral rash is reddish, found all over the body, occurs during or after fever,

Causes of Viral Infection Rash

Viral fever with rash occurs because the immune system reacts to the virus or to the agent acting on skin cells.

For example, when infected with the measles virus, the immune system detects foreign antigens moving in the circulatory system and releases chemicals to destroy them. However, these substances also cause inflammation of the skin, leading to a rash.

Shingles, on the other hand, is related to the reactivation of the chickenpox virus lying dormant in the nerves. Once there, the virus begins to travel down the nerves and into the skin. Then they multiply here and a shingles rash will form.

Some viral infections that can cause fever and rash include:

Are Viral Rashes Contagious?

A viral infection rash is not contagious, but the virus that causes it is contagious. After being infected with a virus, the body will react to destroy the foreign agent and cause a fever. 

Some viral fevers with rashes are usually caused by the following viruses:

  • Measles
  • Chicken pox
  • Rubella

The route of infection is usually through contact with respiratory secretions in the air when talking directly or with secretions from the nose and throat of an infected person. Note that people who have been infected with the virus can pass it on to others before the rash appears

However, some other viral diseases are transmitted by vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas, such as the Dengue virus.

How To Treat Viral Infection Rash

When it comes to treatment for viral diseases, doctors often focus on relieving symptoms because, unlike bacteria, viruses cannot be destroyed by antibiotics.

You can speed up your body’s healing process by drinking plenty of water and taking plenty of time to rest. When you have a fever or body aches, you can take some over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.

If you have a viral infection rash with fever, try applying cold packs or creams to the rash. Avoid scratching these areas.

For cases of viral infections that cause severe illness such as shingles, your doctor will prescribe an antiviral medication for you.

When Should You See a Doctor?

It is best to see a doctor as soon as you see a viral infection rash or fever.

Seek medical attention immediately if you develop

  • A viral infection rash with fever
  • A rash that lasts more than a week, especially when symptoms do not improve
  • Blisters appear
  • Rash spreads quickly, spreading all over the body
  • There are signs of swelling, redness, and watering
  • Pain

In fact, there are many viruses that can cause a rash. Most viral infections go away on their own, but a few need antiviral medication. However, if the rash and viral fever do not improve after more than 1 week, you should contact your doctor immediately.

If you have just returned from countries with a viral disease, you will also need to go to the hospital for a general check-up. Viral diseases that are spread by vectors often require antiviral drugs to treat them. 

Learn more about Infectious Diseases in Children here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS

Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Hello Bacsi · Updated Mar 13, 2023

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