Itching and Scratching

Children commonly get rashes that cause itching of the skin. Some common causes of itching include:
  • Eczema: or atopic dermatitis, is a common problem in infants and children. It usually begins between two and six months of age with very dry and sensitive skin that will then become red and extremely itchy. It often starts on the forehead, cheeks and scalp and spreads to the trunk, creases of the elbows, knees, and wrists. With scratching the rash may become raw, crusted and weepy.
  • Rhus dermatitis: a type of contact dermatitis caused by the skin developing an allergic reaction to the oil in the leaves of poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. The rash typically occurs within a few hours to days after having contact with these plants, depending on how sensitive you are. The rash usually begins as red bumps and blisters that are very itchy and can last for up to one to three weeks.
  • Contact Dermatitis: your child may develop a red itchy rash after coming into contact with something that he is allergic to. The rash will typically be in a small area that comes into contact with the item, such as the ears (earrings), wrist (watch), or abdomen (snaps of pants), or it can be more diffuse if your child is allergic to a new clothing detergent, soap, or shampoo.
  • Insect bites: Unless your child has an allergy, most insect bites and stings cause minor redness, swelling and itching. If you can see the stinger in your child's skin, you should use a dull blade or credit card to scrape it out. Avoid pinching it out, since this can inject more venom into the wound.
  • Scabies: is caused by the parasite Sarcoptes scabiei, which only infects humans. Once the scabies mites are on your skin, they will burrow under the skin and lay eggs, which will hatch into adult mites in about ten days. An intensely itchy rash develops a few weeks later, as your body develops an allergic reaction to the mites and eggs. The rash consists of small red bumps or blisters and commonly are found between your child's fingers, on the inside of the wrists, in his armpits and groin area. You may also see small lines around the bumps, which are the burrows that the mites create as they travel under the skin.
  • Chickenpox: a highly contagious illness that is caused by the varicella zoster virus and occurs most commonly in late winter or early spring. Symptoms begin with a low grade fever, loss of appetite and decreased activity. About two days later, your child will develop an itchy rash consisting of small red bumps that start on the scalp, face and trunk and then spread to the arms and legs (but may also occur in the mouth and genitalia). The bumps then become blisters with clear and then cloudy fluid, and then become open sores and finally crust over within about twenty four hours, but your child will continue to get new bumps for about four more days.
  • Head Lice: Head lice infestations are a common problem in infants and children, even in those who practice good hygiene and frequent hair washing. The most common symptom of children infected with head lice is itching of the scalp and back of the neck, although some children do not complain if they have a light infestation. You should be able to see the adult lice, which are reddish-brown and 1/16 of an inch long. They move very fast and are most commonly seen at the back of the neck and behind the ears. Nits are eggs from the adult lice and are whitish and are firmly attached to hairs.
  • Athlete's foot: a fungal infection that causes a red, scaly, itchy rash and foot odor in adolescents. It usually begins in between the toes and can spread to the instep.
  • Other conditions that can cause itching include ringworm, pinworms, which can cause an itchy rash around your child's anus, medication side effect, and jock itch, a fungal infection around the genital area in adolescent boys.