Toddler Covered in Tiny Bumps - What Is This?

Updated on May 25, 2011
S.W. asks from Mountain View, CA
15 answers

Hi mamas,

I have a sweet 2.5 year old son who has suddenly developed teeny tiny bumps all over his body - back, arms, elbows, armpits, sides, thighs and cheeks. It's been going on for about two weeks, and at the same time he's developed a stuffy nose and cough, which seem like seasonal allergies. He's not scratching at all, sleeps well, and seems perfectly happy. But these bumps are driving me crazy; they're not red and don't appear to be itchy, so is it eczema? Or something else?

We only do lukewarm baths twice a week with California Baby mild soap for his hair - not much soap on the body. And we use Aquaphor and Eucerin. None of that seems to be helping.

Thanks for any suggestions!

Quick edit: our son was diagnosed with eczema when he was a few months old, so we were told to avoid soap. We use a small amount of California Baby liquid soap for sensitive skin on his hair and body, just not a lot - he never gets lathered up because he immediately gets red bumps. But this rash is different - the bumps are teeny and flesh-colored. More like goosebumps. Thanks for everyone's responses!

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So What Happened?

We saw the doctor, and she said it's eczema and aggravated by spring allergies. We'll try the Cetaphil and Vaseline. Thanks for everyone's help!

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answers from Sioux City on

Do you use drier sheets? My kids can't take any drier sheets and I have to use very little clothes soap in their laundry. I thought the doctor was crazy when he mentioned the drier sheets, but I quite using them and most of my kids' rashes cleared up.

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answers from Columbia on

Hmmm.... poor little guy. Is ir pink or flesh colored? I'm no doctor, and of course his pediatrician is your best resource, but with the cough and stuffy nose it could be a little scarletina rash. (That's what my mom called it.) I got it when I had strep that I didn't have treated because I just thought I had a little sore throat and it would go away. It was tiny little bumps that almost felt like fine grade sand paper to the touch. If it is anything like that antibiotics might be in order.
Like someone else said, skin is a funny thing and can react to anything. It could be nothing more than an annoyance, but it is always good to check.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

It could be eczema...that's what both of my daughters look like when they have a breakout of it. Especially since you mention the allergies. It may not be bothering him, but you ought to treat it before it gets worse and does start to bother him. A side note...both Aquaphor and Eucerin makes my daughters' eczema does Vanicream. The only lotion I've ever used that worked is Johnson's Creamy Baby Oil, and for treatment cortisone never worked, but a prescrip. cream called mometasone did. Because it sounds just like theirs, you might try it to see.

And totally just don't use any soap on his body? It could be that he's getting some sort of skin condition because he's not being cleaned. I don't mean that to sound facetious or sarcastic...I'm serious, in the most polite way. At that age, he has to get dirty enough to require actual washing. Water is just drying, and doesn't do much.

***EDIT Thanks for clarifying. By soap, you probably shouldn't use normal soap...but have you tried Dove, or Cetaphil, or something like that? Dove was the only soap that didn't make my oldest break out immediately, so I used that until she was about 4. It could be that he's become sensitive to the soap you are sensitive as any soap claims to be, skin can become sensitive to it after repeated use.

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answers from Rockford on

My son had severe eczema. The kind that ends you up in the hospital. Tried those soaps and lotions you all have mentioned (plus hydro-cortisone creams.) None of these lotions are all natural. They contain petroleum products, propylene glycol (found in antifreeze) etc. Nothing really helped. Switched to purely natural, raw oils and butters. Took about a month for all the toxins from these other lotions we were slathering on him 5 times a day to leave his system, then the healing began. We haven't had a major breakout in years.
These are the products that worked for us:
Sappo Hill Fragrance free glycerin soap
Shea Butter -Raw, unrefined, organic products are available from Shea Terra Organics. They also have oils that are great for eczema-Tamanu & Argan to name a couple.
Raw unrefined oils-Almond, Avocado, Jojoba, get the idea.
Aloe Vera Gel- make sure it is free of chemical preservatives, Aubrey Organics make a great product that we can't be without.
Basic rule of thumb- don't put anything on your skin that you couldn't eat
If you can't pronounce the ingredients it's probably not a good thing. Keep it simple. Also I would check into probiotics. Eczema is tied to digestion.
Hope this helps.



answers from Joplin on

Sounds like an allergic response to me, but it could be any number of things. Sometimes children can have rashes from a fever or viral infection. I would call the Pediatrician and see if they can shed some light on it.



answers from Chicago on

Could it be a food allergy? Or possibly a detergent allergy? I have an allergy to wheat causing keratosis pilaris (tiny bumps on the back if my arms). Dosed sound exactly the same being it's all over his body but you never know. See a wholistic doc.. They can do allergy tests and solve the issue in dietary changes



answers from Chicago on

My son gets the same type of rash whenever he has strep throat. It is very common to get this rash with strep. So firstly I would get a strep test done.
The second thought is an allergy to sunscreen. My son is also allergic to sun screen and breaks out in the same tiny bumps when I put it on him. It takes days for them to go away afterward.



answers from Chicago on

My son, and actually, I, have the same thing, on the backs of our arms and sometimes on our thighs. I googled it once and came up with some condition that started with a p, can't remember it (Just saw this in the other answers! This was what I found, Keritosis Pilaris) They said it was basically due to dry skin and that almost ahlf the population has it, and my mom said I used to have it all over when I was a baby/toddler. We also use California Baby Sensitive Skin soap or Baby Ganics now (it's cheaper and I haven't noticed a difference in his skin). I'll check bak to see what your Dr. says, but I don't think it's anything to be concerned about.
Good Luck!


answers from Las Vegas on

Have the doctor look at it. My daughter had that happen to her, she got these little bumps all over her. It is driving me insane, but they are going away now. Her pediatrician said nothing was wrong with her in any way, it wasn't chicken pox, it wasn't an allergic reaction, and it wasn't eczema. He said that the skin is a funny organ, it just does things sometimes, and said that in her case it was a viral thing. It didn't mean anything harmful and he said nothing will help it, it just goes away in a few weeks or months. What a way to feel completely helpless lmao!



answers from Minneapolis on

you might want to keep an eye out for a sudden fever. my daughter had a rash like that all over her body for about a week or so and then one night got a high fever. turns out it was roseola. it is very common in small kids and its just a virus so it has to run its course but she had the runny nose, etc to. not saying that is it, that was just my experience with bumps like that. hope it gets better soon!!



answers from Chicago on

Well, it sounds like your son has Scarlet Fever. This happened to my son because when he was that age it was hard to tell when he was seriously sick. He was such a happy child that his spirits were up even when he had a stomach flu. Ok, so the reason I say Scarlet Fever is because of the tiny bumps that don't itch and it seems like seasonal allergies because children rarely have a fever with it...that's our sign to take him to his Ped. Scarlet Fever develops if Strep Throat is not treated. Because Strep Throat doesn't usually come with a fever it is hard to catch. I suggest you take him to the doctor and have him checked out.

Article on Strep Throat and Scarlet Fever...
It is easy to tell when you have a sore throat or a cold. It is harder to know when you have strep throat. Generally, sore throats are caused by a viral infection and not strep bacteria. Strep throat usually does not occur with cold symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or a runny or stuffy nose. The more cold symptoms you have, the less likely it is that your sore throat is a strep infection.
In some cases of strep infection, a skin rash develops and spreads over the neck and chest and eventually over the whole body. The rash feels rough like sandpaper. This condition is called scarlet fever. Scarlet fever is treated with antibiotics. This usually leads to a quick recovery. Scarlet fever is not dangerous if treated.



answers from Chicago on

Get a strep swab- strep can cause a sandpapery rash. The best way to rule out strep is to get both a rapid swab and a 72 hour culture. The rapid can sometimes give a false negative. They can hold BOTH swabs in their hand at once to do the tests, so he doesn't have to get swabbed two separate times.

Hope he feels better soon.



answers from Chicago on

My daughter has eczema and we bathe her once a week - less water has been one of the only things to help, along with cutting cow's milk out of her diet. However, she also gets rashes (usually hives) when she has a virus. Could be either.



answers from Chicago on

Hi - My son started developing little skin color bumps so I took him to the doctor and they told me it was Molluscum Contagiosum. Apparently this virus is going around and a lot of kids have been seen for this. There is no true treatment when you have developed a lot of them, but if you have just a few, they can freeze them and 3 weeks later have you apply a cream to make them go away. Hope all turns out well.



answers from Chicago on

Check with his doctor, you may want to make an appointment. My son broke out in the same type of bumps, he also has a history of severe food allergies and environmental allergies. I took him in and she tested him for a strep infection and it came back positive, she explained that sometimes infections and viruses presented with this type of rashes. Check it out, he may be suffering from the same thing.
p.s. my son never scratched this rash or was not really bothered by it at all.

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