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Rash: Sign of coronavirus in kids


Kids get lots of rashes. It can be difficult to know what’s causing them. Now you can add one more possibility to the list — a potential coronavirus infection.

Kids can get the coronavirus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone 2 years of age and older wear a cloth face mask when you cannot stay 6 feet or further from others.

Mother grocery shopping with her toddler at the supermarket wearing face masks and pushing the cart.
Contact your child's doctor right away

Some children and teens who had a coronavirus infection develop a life-threatening condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Contact your child’s doctor right away if your child (or teen) develops any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever

  • Abdominal (in your belly) pain

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Rash

  • Bloodshot eyes

COVID toes: Sign of a coronavirus infection

In children, a coronavirus infection tends to be mild. For many children, a rash known as COVID toes may be the only sign of a coronavirus infection.

If your child has COVID toes, you may see:

  • Red or purple toes (or fingers)

  • Swelling on the toes (or fingers)

  • A small amount of pus

Occasionally, this rash develops on the fingers instead of the toes. Whether on the toes, fingers, or both, the area can start out red and then turn purple. It can also begin with a purplish color.

In children, this rash is generally nothing to worry about. If your child has any other signs or symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever or cough, contact your child’s doctor.

Rash: Sign of past coronavirus infection and serious medical condition

After recovering from a coronavirus infection, a few children develop a life-threatening condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Doctors believe MIS-C occurs when the child’s immune system overreacts to the coronavirus infection.

While a child's body is probably reacting to the coronavirus infection when MIS-C develops, the child is no longer contagious. The child cannot spread the coronavirus to others.

MIS-C can affect different areas of a child's body. It can cause swelling in the child's heart or lungs. If your child has MIS-C, you might see one or more of the following signs on their skin or body:

  • Rash

  • Bloodshot eyes

  • Discolored, cracked lips

  • Swollen and discolored hands, feet, or both

  • Swollen tongue that looks like a strawberry

MIS-C can also cause other signs and symptoms, including:

  • Fever that lasts for days

  • Abdominal pain (a tummy ache)

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Swollen gland in neck

  • Confusion

  • Trouble staying awake

If your child has any of these signs or symptoms, call your child’s doctor right away. Most children who have MIS-C get better with medical care.

Related AAD resources


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Getty Images

References
Berry J. “Kawasaki disease vs. MIS-C: What we know.” Dermatology Times. May 28, 2020.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “For Parents: Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19.” Page last reviewed May 20, 2020. Last accessed June 1, 2020.


All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

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