Q&A: rash on face of preschooler

You know, it's really difficult to write an internet advice column when your computer won't connect to your wireless connection. Gah. I'm up to here with Vista. I'm coming to you from the cafe near my apartment with the post that was supposed to go up yesterday.

Robin writes:

"Because of my work schedule, my daughter spends the weekend at her grandparents' once a month. Whenever I pick her up, she has a red rash on her cheeks. She doesn't get this rash at home, and after a day or two of putting my regular face lotion on her cheeks it fades away. I've been wracking my brain to figure out what could be causing it, but can't figure it out. (I don't want to say anything to my parents since the rash isn't painful to my daughter and I don't want to hurt their feelings because they seriously overreact to stuff like that.) They have cats, but so do I. She doesn't have environmental allergies. I don't think they're feeding her anything strange.

Do you or your readers have any ideas about what this could be? It's just red and kind of flaky, but not oozy and not really raised. and it doesn't hurt or make her itch."

Hmm. I wish we had a photo of this, as that would make it lots easier to diagnose.

I used to work in test prep, so my instinct is to use process of elimination to narrow down what it could be. I'm going to say that it's not anything fungal because it's not oozy and it goes away so quickly just with regular facial lotion.

I'm also going to say it's not a bacterial infection for the same reason.

It kind of sounds like the rash both of my kids have gotten (my older one grew out of it when he was around 5) from being out in the cold. A red, flaky rash that was helped by putting on lotion but would also go away on its own if I kept him out of the cold for a couple of days. So that may be worth thinking about, especially if she goes outside to play a lot at her grandparents and doesn't so much at your place.

You could take another look at food stuff. You say she doesn't eat anything "strange," but anything with artificial colors or flavors or additives could do it. And individual people are sensitive to all kinds of things (there are even people who are allergic to plain white rice), so it could be something healthy that your daughter's system just has a problem with.

The other thing I'm thinking is detergent or fabric softener on the pillows she sleeps on. That could definitely cause contact rashes. And if her skin gets a breather at your place, plus the lotion, that could explain it.

Readers, do you have any other ideas? Has anyone been through this?