Do you have burning red skin or an itchy skin bump? It could probably be a skin rash. A rash is a noticeable change in the color or texture of your skin. Your adjoining area of skin might become scaly, itchy, bumpy or otherwise irritated.
A rash is a type of skin disorder that has a swollen area, irritated skin that manifests in different patterns and varying shades of red, brown or purple. Most rashes are caused due to allergic reactions to the food, environment or medications.
In contrast, there are other types of rashes that appear because of a critical skin disorder or underlying disease or infection. Some rashes clear up on their own, but others might turn out to be chronic and require treatment.
However, you might notice that some rashes can be signs of serious allergic reactions or health problems. For example, the rash Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) is a medical emergency. SJS is only caused by a severe allergic reaction to a medication that is life-threatening.
Dermatologists are doctors who specialize in rashes and skin problems. You should consult a doctor before treating a serious rash on your own to avoid making the symptoms worse.
What is Skin Rash?
A skin rash is an area of your skin that has become inflamed, swollen, or irritated. Skin rashes can include skin bumps that could look like sores or pimples; blotchy, scaly or red skin; and itchy or burning skin.
There could be various reasons causing rashes. Allergens, heat, and certain medical conditions could result in skin conditions causing rashes. Some skin rashes erupt right away, while others take some time to erupt and develop. Some tend to appear on your face, while others flare up on your legs, arms or torso.
Appearance, location, and color of a skin rash are all factors that determine the right diagnosis and the right treatment. However, it is important to note that the word ‘rash’ can mean a whole lot of things.
To a dermatologist, the rash is an extremely broad term. It could range from connective tissue disease like lupus to infections or something very obvious – like redness after using a new laundry detergent. You might notice that the redness and irritation in your hands disappear when you switch back to your old detergent.
Some commonly occurring rashes are relatively harmless and easy enough to take care of at home. At the same time, there could be others that can be more problematic.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most rashes are not life-threatening. They are easily treated with over-the-counter antihistamines, cortisone creams or lotions that effectively relieve itching and swelling. You will see that these will go away on their own after a few days or weeks.
What Causes Skin Rash?
A simple rash is known as dermatitis, meaning the inflammation of the skin. Contact dermatitis happens when you touch things such as:
- Cosmetics, soaps, and detergents.
- Chemicals present in elastic, latex, and rubber products
- Dyes and other chemicals in clothing.
- Poison ivy, oak, or sumac.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a particular kind of rash that appears in patches of redness. You can see scaling around the eyelids, eyebrows, mouth, trunk, nose, and behind the ears.
If the condition happens on your scalp, it is called dandruff in adults and, in infants, it is called cradle cap. However, factors like age, weather extremes, stress, fatigue, oily skin, infrequent shampooing, and alcohol-based lotions might increase this harmless but bothersome condition.
Taking medications might also cause rashes. They can form as a result of:
- A side effect of a specific medication
- Having an allergic reaction to the medication.
- Photosensitivity to the medication.
Common Skin Rash and What They Look Like
1 Rubella: Small, red spots seen all over the skin.
It is a common viral skin rash that affects children and young adults. Rubella, or German measles, as they are called, causes a rash of red skin spots that spreads like chickenpox from the face down. These skin rashes can be itchy. Other symptoms that might accompany are sore throat, swollen glands, fever, headache, and runny nose.
Treatment: There is a vaccine available for rubella. The Centers for Disease Control states that the virus has been completely eliminated from the USA. However, the virus is still common in other countries. Rubella is said to be very dangerous for pregnant women because it might cause birth defects in the newborn. Treatment primarily includes rest and acetaminophen medicine to relieve discomfort.
2 Chickenpox: A skin rash made up of blisters.
Varicella zoster virus is the name of a specific virus that commonly causes chickenpox. It creates a skin rash of itchy blisters on the face that spreads down, covering your chest, back, and the rest of the body. Chickenpox is typically accompanied by fever and headache. Because a vaccine is available,
People with chickenpox should avoid coming in contact with young children, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems. This is probably because chickenpox is highly contagious for those who did not receive the vaccine or people without prior exposure.
Treatment: Chickenpox is less common now, as there is a vaccine available. Though it still occurs, especially in children under the age of 12. Chickenpox treatment is primarily aimed at controlling symptoms which include fever. You can have non-aspirin pain relievers and oatmeal baths that help to soothe the itching.
3 Hives: Sudden itchy skin bumps and welts.
Urticaria, also known as hives – is a skin rash that comes on suddenly. It causes pale pink or red rashes, which sometimes burn or sting. This skin condition can occur anywhere on your skin. Hives might last for a few days or a few weeks; Hives are caused by an allergic reaction, Which could be food or medication.
Treatment: The most common treatment is to treat the symptoms with an antihistamine medication. You should visit your doctor for a check-up if your hive lasts longer than 24 hours and is associated with any pain or fever.
Learn more about Tick Bites here.
4 Skin rashes caused by allergic reactions to medication.
There are primarily two main types of drug-induced skin rashes. One is immediate, those that are associated with hives, itching. This kind of rash is often associated with breathing difficulty and tongue or lip swelling. If you see these symptoms, you should seek medical attention right away.
A drug rash can occur for several days to even weeks. These rashes may include skin bump eruptions, purple or red skin discoloration, or scaly and thickened areas of skin. This skin condition can erupt anywhere on your skin or even inside your mouth.
Treatment: The only option is to stop taking the drug and manage the symptoms with steroids or antihistamines.
5 Impetigo: A skin rash caused by bacteria.
Impetigo is a skin rash caused by a skin infection, usually traced to a particular bacteria group. They could be streptococcus or staphylococcus aureus. These skin rashes are brown in color with crusty sores or blisters around the mouth or nose area. The rash is very itchy and contagious. Scratching the rash and then touching other areas will cause it to spread.
Treatment: It is treated with antibiotic creams or lotions. For more severe cases, oral antibiotics are the only treatment.
6 Rosacea: Redness and inflammation on the face.
Rosacea is a common skin condition that is often noticed on the faces of adults. Its symptoms include redness of the cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin area. If you have rosacea, small blood vessels might be seen on the surface of the red skin.
In addition, you might have skin bumps and pimples, though these are not related to acne breakouts. Rosacea is a skin disorder that typically affects only the face, though in some cases, it might appear on the chest, neck, ears, scalp, or even on your eyes.
Treatment: The cause of rosacea is unknown, and there is no cure. However, your doctor might treat it with antibiotics to minimize the symptoms.
7 Eczema: Red, Dry, Itchy Skin Anywhere on the Body
Another word for eczema is dermatitis or inflammation of the skin. Eczema is common and causes your skin to be cracked, itchy, red, and sometimes oozy. Scratching makes your skin red and inflamed. Eczema is not contagious, but it is commonly caused by detergents, soaps, synthetic fibers, wool, and dry skin.
Treatment: The best treatment for eczema is to avoid substances that your skin is sensitive to. In fact, you should follow a regular moisturizing skincare routine. For some people, topical and oral medications are helpful and can help ease your symptoms.
Learn more about Scarlet Fever here.
Skin Rash When to See Your Doctor
So how do you know when to visit your doctor or dermatologist for medical treatment? Your doctor will recommend seeking medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Fever could be an indication of the presence of an infection, some serious reaction to a medication, or rheumatologic disease.
- Blisters or open sores on your skin, mouth, or other areas. Some benign rashes, like poison ivy, might cause small blisters in the skin. However, other types of blisters and open sores can indicate a more serious or life-threatening condition. That might require immediate intervention.
- A rash that is painful and has occurred over the body or spreading rapidly could be dangerous.
- A rash that has not shown any improvement with home care needs to be checked by your doctor.
If you find you are feeling well and your condition is not interfering with your quality of life. Then it is fine to try reasonable home remedies, like hydrocortisone cream. But if your irritation persists for a few days, it is a good idea to check with your doctor.
Usually, if your rash has not improved within two weeks of starting home care, then you need to seek medical care immediately. If you are suffering from a skin rash, you can check the images online to confirm what kind of rash it is. However, if you are not sure as to how to treat your rash, it is good to contact your doctor.