Articles - Childhood Illnesses

Viral Exanthem

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DEFINITION:

A rash caused by a viral infection.

 

SYMPTOMS:

Large or small red blotches
(called macules or papules) on
the skin sometimes associated
with itching, swollen glands, or
a fever.

Viral Exanthem blotches


CAUSES:

Viruses, including measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, roseola, 5th's disease, hand, foot, and mouth disease, and hundreds of other viruses.

 

OUTCOME:

Varies, depending on the virus.

 

CONTAGION:

The rashes are not contagious, however, the viruses causing the rash are contagious.

 

TREATMENT:

Usually just helping with the symptoms (symptomatic treatment) such as fluids, rest, and anti-itch creams.

 

DISCUSSION:

Many viruses have skin manifestations, called exanthems. When there is a manifestation of a virus in the mouth, it is called an enathem. Each virus presents in a different manner and therefore requires a separate explanation.

 

ONE DOCTOR'S OPINION:

I see viral rashes very frequently in my practice. The vast majority I simply call viral rash because they're caused by any one of hundreds of viruses. It seems that almost any cold virus can have a rash as part of its symptoms. A few of these viruses have more specific symptoms, and over the years, these viruses have been given names. Many of these viruses we try to prevent through vaccination. Others just run their natural course and have a few self-limited, harmless symptoms. Fortunately, because of vaccinations, the viral rashes we see today are mostly of the harmless variety.


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