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How to Assess Rashes and Other Skin Issues

Did you know? Skin is our largest organ, with adults carrying approximately 8 pounds and 22 square feet of it – wow! So, it’s no surprise that school nurses are often asked for dermatological advice by parents. After all, there is a countless number of conditions that can affect the skin and there are more than 12 million office visits annually for rashes and other skin concerns in children.

And with these countless conditions and rashes comes difficulty in differentiating them. Often, childhood rashes are very similar in appearance, so it’s important to consider the entire clinical presentation when assessing the rash. Nurses should always analyze:

  • The appearance and location of the rash
  • The clinical course (i.e. how the rash behaves over time)
  • Associated symptoms, such as fever or itching

The most common skin issues in children are:

  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Poison ivy and poison oak
  • Infectious conditions: bacterial, fungal or viral
  • Infestations


Of course, these are not the only issues that may arise, but it may be a helpful starting point as you assess a rash or another skin condition.

As a school nurse, you will likely be tasked with making an accurate assessment of skin problems and suggesting treatments and/or making a referral to a doctor or exclusion from school. To help you make more informed decisions on skin issues, you can click here to shop diagnostic literature and tools from MacGill.

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