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Categories > Skin and Scalp Care > Treating skin problems

Kick ‘cooties’ to the curb

Most children have a tough time sharing—unless it comes to contagious skin conditions. Learn about some of the most common and how they’re treated:


Impetigo usually appears as sores around the nose and mouth when your child comes in contact with bacteria from an infected person. It usually enters through a cut or an insect bite.

Symptoms: Red sores that break open quickly, ooze, then form a yellow-brown crust; itching; fluid- or pus-filled blisters.

Treatment: Topical or oral prescription antibiotics. See your pediatrician if you suspect impetigo. Usually your child can go back to school or daycare within 24 hours of starting antibiotics.


Microscopic mites, attracted by warmth and odor, spread through close contact with infected people, burrowing under the skin and causing an itchy skin rash within several weeks.

Symptoms: Itching, especially at night; little red bumps appear. In more advanced cases, the skin may be crusty or scaly.

Treatment: Everyone exposed to scabies will need treatment. This involves special creams applied to the skin to kill the mites. Antihistamines may help relieve itching.

Fifth disease

Known for its distinctive red facial rash that spreads to the rest of the body, fifth disease is caused by a virus that most kids easily recover from.

Symptoms: Usually starts with a low-grade fever, headache and symptoms mimicking a mild cold; the rash appears a few days later and may take on a pink, lacy and slightly raised appearance. It can come and go for several weeks. Swollen glands, sore throat, red eyes and diarrhea may also occur.

Treatment: Usually no treatment is necessary. Your child’s pediatrician may recommend acetaminophen to lower temperatures of more than 102° F, rest and fluids. By the time the rash appears, your child is no longer contagious.

Hand-foot-mouth disease

The disease is a viral infection that usually starts with painful sores in the throat and spreads through direct contact with nose and throat secretions, saliva, blister fluid or stool.

Symptoms: Typically starts with fever, poor appetite and a sore throat. A non-itchy rash with flat or raised red spots and blisters may appear on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet and often in the throat.

Treatment: There are no treatments, but acetaminophen can lower fevers and reduce pain. Drinking plenty of fluids also prevents dehydration. Keep your child out of school and daycare and crowded places until the fever is gone and mouth sores have healed.