The term rash has no precise meaning – it is simply the common term for inflamed, itchy, red skin. Technically, a rash is a change of the texture, color, and appearance of the skin. A rash can cause the skin to become itchy or painful, feel warm, dry, cracked, or appear blistered. A rash may be confined to one area or part of the body, or it can affect the entire body. The location and look of the rash can be very helpful in diagnosing the condition.
Because the causes and symptoms can vary so widely, Dermatologists have developed a checklist for identifying some common skin rashes. The first thing is to determine the location of the rash – is it localized or all over the body? Next, describe the characteristics of the rash – does it itch, is it painful, are blisters present? Then determine the look of the rash – is it ring-shaped, does it appear in lines, or in circular patches? Other symptoms will also be taken into consideration, such as, what the person may have been exposed to, and are other members of the family also showing signs of the rash.
A simple rash is often referred to as dermatitis, which means an inflammation of the skin. Some of the most common cause of rashes, listed below, are noninfectious rashes, and can usually be treated with an over the counter 1% hydrocortisone cream for a week or so. If this does not help improve the condition, it’s probably time to consult your skincare professional or doctor.
Common causes of rashes can include:
Contact dermatitis: The most common cause of a skin rash, is caused by things that touch the skin, such as:
- Chemicals in elastic, latex, and rubber products
- Cosmetics, soaps, and detergents
- Poison ivy, poison oak or sumac
- Dyes and other chemicals in clothing, or from the work environment
Allergic reaction: An itchy rash is often an allergic reaction to a substance that has been ingested, such as a medication, or from coming in contact with something that triggers an allergic reaction in the body (see Contact dermatitis).
Eczema: (Also called atopic dermatitis) – This rash is generally red, itchy, and scaly and tends to happen in people with allergies or asthma.
Psoriasis: This looks like red, scaly, itchy patches over joints and along the scalp. The fingernails may also be affected.
Impetigo: This is common in children. The rash is caused by an infection from bacteria on the skin. Impetigo shows up as red sores that turn into blisters, ooze, then crust over.
Shingles: This is a painful blistered skin condition caused by the same virus as chickenpox. The virus can lie dormant in the body for many years and re-emerge as shingles.
More Serious Causes of Skin Rash
The presence of a rash can be associated with more serious conditions, such as in the rash associated with childhood diseases like:
- Chicken pox
- Scarlet Fever
- Erythema (mostly is people over 20 years old)
Most skin rashes are not a sign of a serious condition, however, self-diagnosis is not a good idea. If symptoms persist, proper evaluation of a skin rash requires a visit to a doctor or your skincare professional.
- Dermatitis: Types, Symptoms and Causes (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Managing and Treating Contact Dermatitis (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Eczema (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Dyshidrotic Eczema (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Eczema in Infants and Children (healthyskinsolutions.com)