Coughing With a Rash in Children

Rashes typically occur when an inflammatory agent comes into contact with your child's skin, but a rash accompanied by a cough could mean something else. Monitor the severity and longevity of your child's symptoms and watch for any additional symptoms to determine whether you should schedule an appointment with her pediatrician.

Describing the Rash

Knowing how to correctly describe your child's rash can help with its diagnosis and treatment. As Dr. William Sears explains, a rash can either appear raised or flat 3. A raised rash may consist of a single raised bump, several flesh-tone raised bumps, several welts that are part red and part flesh-tone or several pimply bumps with a white center. A blistery bump contains a clear fluid, while a pustule contains pus. A flat rash may appear as a red patch on the skin, flat red spots or flat blotches that look like welts flush with the skin.


An allergy commonly causes both coughing and rashes. According to MedlinePlus, allergies typically affect the body part that comes into contact with the allergen 12. Seasonal allergens inhaled by your child frequently cause coughing and other respiratory symptoms, and if your child rubs up against the allergen while playing outside, a rash may also develop.

Other Potential Causes

Several childhood diseases also cause coughing with a rash. Fifth disease, a harmless viral illness that causes a bright red, bumpy rash to form along the cheeks, occasionally causes a runny nose and cough. As KidsHealth explains, measles cause a full-body rash and flu-like symptoms, including coughing and fever 56. KidsHealth also explains that scarlet fever often occurs because of complications of strep throat or a similar throat infection 56. As such, throat irritations may precede a scarlet red, bumpy rash that appears on the neck and face before spreading to the chest and back.

Contacting the Doctor

When in doubt, call the doctor. If your child has only a mild cough and his rash causes him no discomfort, you may not need to schedule an appointment. If these symptoms fail to disappear on their own and persist past several weeks, however, ask your doctor for an official diagnosis. You should also call the doctor if your child displays other symptoms, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, sore throat or fever — especially a fever of more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. If your child has difficulty breathing or difficulty staying conscious, seek emergency medical treatment.


If your child's cough and rash do not appear serious, you may attempt home treatment of the symptoms until they naturally clear. Treat your child's cough with an over-the-counter children's formula cough medication and ease any throat itchiness with hard candy or throat lozenges if she is old enough to have them. Avoid scrubbing your child's rash and use only gentle cleansers. Use lukewarm water and pat dry. Avoid using cosmetic lotions, but if the rash itches, apply a thin layer of calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream over the area. Your doctor will prescribe an appropriate treatment for more serious conditions, ranging from antihistamines for allergies to antibiotics for scarlet fever or other illnesses 6.