Treating Viral Skin Infections

Authored by Dr Oliver Starr, 23 Jul 2017

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Prof Cathy Jackson, 23 Jul 2017

  • If your child has a high temperature (fever) or a mild illness and they've come out with a reactive viral rash then no treatment at all is necessary.
  • As adults, we see a rash in our children and think 'that must be itchy' but these types of rashes are hardly ever itchy at all.
  • Putting cream on their skin won't help, because the rash has come from inside their body.
  • Antihistamines don't work either, because the rash hasn't been caused by histamine!
  • These rashes fade in a few days by themselves: just be patient.
  • Other rashes that go away without treatment are hand, foot and mouth disease, pityriasis rosea and molluscum contagiosum.
  • Often with chickenpox the spots look really bad but when you ask the child, they say the spots don't really bother them that much: they just feel really ill.
  • Simple things are best for chickenpox: some cream that you keep in the fridge, like calamine lotion or any other type of moisturiser.

See separate leaflet called Chickenpox.

  • Cold sores are caused by a virus called herpes simplex.
  • It's a very stubborn virus: once it's got inside your system it stays inside you for years.
  • Although each time you get a cold sore it goes away in a few weeks, the virus lies dormant: it's never fully killed.
  • If you're a bit run-down, or on any medication that lowers your immune system, the cold sore is likely to come back.
  • You can treat it each time with an antiviral medicine like aciclovir or famciclovir which helps it go away more quickly.

Further reading and references

hi , I’m 59 and for a few days I had a pain in my thigh and leg , thought it was sciatica, on and off. Then last Wednesday discovered a rash on inner thigh spreading, felt quite ill. Saw GP the same...

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