What is a Skin Rash?
The term “rash” can refer to any of a number of irritations of the skin that cause discoloration or inflammation. Rashes can be the result of a wide variety of different conditions. Depending on the source of the irritation, rashes can appear in several different forms:
- Scaly patches of skin, not caused by infection
- Scaly patches of skin produced by fungal or bacterial infection
- Red, itchy bumps or patches over the body
What Are Some of the Most Common Rashes?
Dermatitis – Dermatitis is caused by external irritants or allergens that can cause the skin to become red and swollen, often becoming sensitive, sore, or itchy.
Shingles – Caused by the chicken pox virus, shingles causes a painful rash. This rash usually appears on the side of the face or torso. Once the blisters dry up, they will typically disappear after two to four weeks.
Eczema – Fluid-filled blisters appear on the skin and it becomes red and irritated. Skin is often itchy. Eczema has several possible causes, including exposure to toxic substances, mites, genetics, fungal infection, and poor circulation.
Psoriasis – Psoriasis symptoms include scaly, raised areas of skin that can be itchy and painful, sometimes cracking and bleeding. Psoriasis can affect the fingernails, causing them to become brittle, crumble, and detach from the nail bed.
Poison Ivy – These itchy rashes are caused by contact with poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac plants. The rash, while extremely irritating, is not contagious and usually disappears in one to three weeks.
Athlete’s Foot – A fungal infection, athlete’s foot is contagious and is contracted by walking on a contaminated floor. The condition causes burning, itching, and foot pain. It can be treated with anti-fungal medications.
Depending on the cause of the rash, early and regular treatment by a dermatologist can bring relief and may also reduce the severity and duration. Some rashes, such as poison ivy, often go away on their own. If a rash doesn’t show signs of healing or continues to worsen after a week or so, it’s a good idea to see a dermatologist. Other rashes, such as shingles,” should be treated as soon as possible to prevent long-term pain and effects.
Common Rash Treatments:
- Topical medications containing cortisone-like compounds, synthetic vitamin D, or tar
- Oral medications such as antibiotics, antihistamines, corticosteroids, methotrexate, retinoids or cyclosporine.
- Light therapy or phototherapy
When Should I See a Dermatologist?
Generally speaking, you should see a dermatologist if your rash doesn’t improve or worsens after a few days. Here are a few other cases when it’s a good idea to seek professional help:
- The rash spreads or becomes painful
- You develop other symptoms, such as aches, fever, or difficulty breathing
- The rash is interfering with your normal day-to-day activities or making it difficult to sleep
- If the rash occurred soon after eating
- If the rash occurred soon after being bitten by an insect