Red cheeks in kids during cold weather

Updated November 21, 2016

Anyone's face, including a child's, can become red when exposed to the wind and cold. However, if your child's cheeks get extremely red, not only when it is cold outside, he may have a disease called slapped cheek disease (erythema infectiosum.) Another name for this condition is fifth disease. It got its name because it is the fifth rash in a group of rashes including scarlet fever, measles, rubella and roseola. This condition is contagious.

Slapped Cheek/Fifth Disease

When your child's cheeks are red, if he also has a fever and fly-like symptoms, including aches and pains and a sore throat, he may have slapped cheek disease. The rash first appears on your child's cheeks and then travels to his limbs and body after a few days. It itches. Some babies just get red cheeks and none of the other symptoms.


The condition can reappear months after the initial outburst. If your child becomes hot or is out in the sun and being extremely active his cheeks can turn bright red. This doesn't mean the infection has returned, according to Usually, slapped cheek disease is mild but for babies who have thalassaemia, which is a genetic blood disorder, or sickle cell anaemia it can be dangerous. These conditions result in anaemia and slapped cheek disease will make the anaemia worse.


Fiery red cheeks can also mean that your child has rosacea. If you see a scattering of bumps on top of the red cheeks, he may be suffering from this inflammatory skin disease. It gets worse if the child eats spicy food is physically active. When it's cold, this can make rosacea worse as can the sun.

Dry Skin

In the winter, your skin or your child's skin can get very dry because there is low humidity. This makes your skin dry out and itch. It can also turn your skin, and your cheeks, red. When dry skin gets really bad, fishnet-like cracks can crop up and your skin will get flaky, dull and rough. Dry skin is called asteatosis or xerosis. When there is not enough water (moisture) in the stratum corenum portion of your skin, dryness occurs. The protective oils in the skin vanish and the water that you normally maintain in your skin escapes. When your skin dries out, it shrinks and that is when it cracks.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.