Red Bruise-Like Rash on a Toddler's Ankles

If you have suddenly noticed a red bruise-looking rash on your toddler’s ankles, don’t panic yet. Kids are regularly exposed to irritants and illnesses that cause changes in their skin’s color and texture, according to the pediatric health website Doing a careful exam of your toddler’s skin will help you rule out potential causes, find an appropriate home care remedy or – if necessary – determine whether it needs to be inspected and treated by a doctor.

Possible Causes

Many causes of rashes – such as chicken pox, roseola, and hand, foot and mouth disease – appear as a rash on the trunk and other areas of the body, rather than isolated to the ankles. Check your toddler’s body to be sure he doesn’t have a rash anywhere else. If your toddler’s rash is only on his ankles, he might have a condition called contact dermatitis. Any contact with an irritating substance, such as a soap or fabric, can cause a red and itchy rash called irritant contact dermatitis, according to KidsHealth from Nemours. For example, a rash on the ankles could indicate that your toddler is sensitive to a detergent used to wash his socks. Your toddler could also have a condition called allergic contact dermatitis if he has been exposed to a substance to which he is allergic. Rubber, perfumed lotion, wool socks and plants such as poison ivy are examples of possible culprits.


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Get an appointment with your toddler’s pediatrician as soon as possible if your toddler’s bruise-like rash doesn’t temporarily turn white or skin-colored when you press down on it, cautions This could indicate purpura, which is when small blood vessels leak blood under your child’s skin or when small blood vessels conjoin, according to MedlinePlus. Your toddler might also have clusters of very small red pinpoint spots called petechiae, which are small purpura spots. Purpura and petechiae more often show up in places such as the ankles and feet because circulating blood puts pressure on those veins. Some causes of purpura are blood-clotting disorders, fragile blood vessels, drugs that affect the function of platelets, the life-threatening infection meningococcemia and inflammation of blood vessels. One inflammatory condition, called Henoch- Schönlein purpura, shows up as a raised bruise-like rash. It is most common in children 2 to 11 years old.


Your toddler’s pediatrician will do a physical exam and might ask you questions about your toddler’s medical history to properly diagnose the rash. He might also ask guiding questions, such as whether you have recently been in any wooded areas, whether your toddler has any known allergies and whether you have recently changed your toddler’s footwear or laundry detergent. He will also dig for specifics, such as how long the rash has lasted and if your child has had other signs and symptoms. He might need to order tests such as skin biopsies, blood tests, allergy testing and skin scrapings to properly diagnose your child.


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The treatment for your toddler’s rash will depend on what caused it. You might simply need to moisturize your toddler’s skin and stop exposing your toddler to a suspected allergen or irritant. Your toddler might also need oral or topical medications. If the pediatrician suspects a more serious underlying problem, further testing and more invasive treatment might be necessary.