A facial rash or tiny red bumps can cause concern for a mother, whose infant is breaking out, or for a teenager. Most facial rashes are harmless, but some can spread to other areas of the body, and be the first sign of a more serious condition, such as the herpes zoster virus that causes shingles. Some rashes are contagious, while others only affect the host. Treatments vary according to the type of rash, so never assume that one medication can treat all rashes.
Infants are susceptible to seborrheic dermatitis, better known as “cradle cap.” It can appear as small bumps on the skin, including the face, back neck and head. The rash will eventually become scaly. Using a cortisone cream can help, as prescribed by a doctor. Another rash attributed to infants is “baby acne,” according to the Mayo Clinic. It appears as small red bumps on the cheeks, chin and forehead. The pimples can develop in the first three to four weeks of life. No treatment is necessary, since the pimples will disappear on their own. A third type of rash that affects infants is eczema. It appears as red bumps and patches of redness, spreading to other parts of the body. It is treated with moisture creams and, sometimes, cortisone creams.
Rashes are common among pre-school and elementary school-age children. One rash considered very contagious is impetigo, a bacterial infection appearing as red bumps around the nose and mouth. It usually begins in a cut, but can affect healthy skin. Treatment includes an antibiotic ointment or oral medication. The rash usually clears in two to three weeks.
Chicken pox is a viral infection that starts with small, red bumps that turn to blisters and spread quickly throughout the body. It is very contagious, causing itching as well as fever. The blisters will break and crust over within seven days, leaving the condition non-contagious.
Rosacea is a common condition that affects adults. It begins with small red bumps on the face. Bumps can become pus filled. It is a chronic condition that comes and goes on its own. Food allergies, temperature and skin creams can cause flare-ups. Older adults are affected by shingles, a condition caused by the same virus as chicken pox. It usually appears as red bumps on the torso, but it can affect the face, usually around the eyes. Eventually, blisters appear that are very painful. The rash and pain can last three weeks. Treatment for the disease consists of anti-viral medications and pain killers.
There are chronic medical conditions that can cause skin rashes, especially on the face. Lupus is an auto-immune disease that is sometimes evident by a red butterfly rash across the bridge of the nose and cheeks and above the eyebrows. Scleroderma, a form of lupus, causes crest syndrome that appears as small red spots or lines on the skin, mostly on the face.