Abstract Exanthems are skin rashes that in childhood are most commonly caused by viruses. Measles, rubella, varicella, erythema infectiosum, papular-purpuric gloves and socks syndrome, roseola infantum, hand, foot and mouth disease, Gianotti–Crosti syndrome, unilateral laterothoracic exanthem and pityriasis rosea are discussed. Transmission, infectivity, prodrome, clinical presentation, complications and treatment are included. Although it is often difficult to identify the specific virus, polymerase chain reaction has improved diagnostic accuracy, which is particularly important in immunocompromised individuals and pregnant women. Alternative diagnoses include bacterial and non-infectious causes.