A skin rash is an area of the skin that is swollen and/or irritated and can include bumps, sores, or scales. The skin may also be itchy, red, or have a burning sensation. Some rashes develop over time, while others can occur right away. A skin rash is typically a symptom or cause of a variety of medical conditions — the location, appearance, and color of the rash are all essential in determining what medical condition is behind the rash. When diagnosed, doctors can start treatment and help manage the rash.
Below are some common diseases that can cause a skin rash.
A virus known as varicella zoster is the cause of chickenpox, a highly contagious disease. The skin rash that develops in chickenpox is made up of itchy, red blisters that spread down to the chest and back. The rash is also typically accompanied by fever and sore throat.
Although a vaccine is available to help prevent the disease, chickenpox is still common in kids under 12 years old. Treatment includes managing fever with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and relieving itchiness with creams and cold compresses.
This is another skin rash that is typically seen in children and young adults. Rubella, or German measles, causes red spots to appear all over the skin that spreads from the face down. The rash can be itchy and is accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as a sore throat, fever, swollen glands, headache, and runny nose.
A vaccine is available to prevent the disease, however, about 10% of young adults can still contract the disease. If you are pregnant and develop rubella, it can be extremely dangerous as the disease can cause birth defects.
Treatment is similar to chickenpox, in which it is aimed at managing fever and relieving the itch.
Also known as urticaria, hives is a skin rash that is characterized by its sudden onset and pale or pink swelling on that can occur anywhere on the skin. The rash can be itchy or have a burning or stinging sensation.
Often caused by an allergic reaction to food or medication, hives are a common problem that affects about 20% of people at least once in their lifetime. Treatment includes avoiding whatever had caused the hive and to treat the rash with an antihistamine medication.
While it affects the skin, psoriasis is actually an autoimmune disease as it is suspected to be caused by a defective immune system that greatly accelerates the growth of skin cells. Psoriasis is typically characterized by patches of dry and thick skin that is covered with silvery-white scaling. Where the rash occurs is usually dependent on what type of psoriasis you have. A complication that can occur from psoriasis is psoriatic arthritis, which can cause pain and swelling in the joints. In extreme cases, the joints can become deformed.
About 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis. The disease can come and go — meaning if it develops once and goes away, there is a chance of it coming back. There is no known cure for the disease, but treatment can help manage it. Treatment includes topical medication, light therapy (phototherapy), and oral/injected medications.
Skin Rashes Caused by Medication
This kind of rash is typically caused by an allergic reaction to a medication, a side effect of a medication, or from increased sensitivity to sunlight due to taking a medication. The rash can occur right after taking the drug or several hours after; it can be characterized by hives, skin bump eruptions, purple and/or red skin discoloration, and/or thickened and scale-like areas of the skin. The rash can occur anywhere on the skin, as well as the inside of the mouth.
Treatment to manage the rash is to take antihistamines or steroids and to stop taking the drug immediately. Consult your doctor for alternative medicines. While in most case the rash goes away on its own, sometimes a rash caused by medication can be serious and even fatal so see a doctor as soon as possible if you develop a rash from medication.
Known as heat rash, it makes the skin become red and can itch or sting. At times, small bumps can also form on the skin. The rash is caused by sweat that gets trapped in pores and is commonly see in babies though it can occur in anyone. It usually occurs in places of the body where skin rubs against skin, such as the skin folds of the neck, breasts, groin, and underarms.
Treatment is to cool off, dry off, and reduce friction.
This is a skin condition that occurs when a rash formed from chaffing gets infected with yeast or bacteria. The skin becomes raw, and the skin rash may ooze and itch. Because it is caused by chaffing, the rash typically appears in folds of the skin — under the breasts, on inner thighs, under armpits, and/or underbelly folds.
Intertrigo is most common in people who are overweight or live with diabetes. Treatment includes keeping areas where chafing could occur dry, managing the infection, and using steroid creams.
This skin condition causes redness on the cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin. Along with the redness, small blood vessels may be seen on the surface, as well as skin bumps and pimples. It is a common condition that occurs in adults.
There is no known cause or cure. Treatment includes antibiotics to minimize symptoms.
Eczema is also known as dermatitis, which means inflammation of the skin. Eczema makes the skin dry and itchy — scratching can lead the skin to become red and/or inflamed, or even bleed. Some causes of the disease include detergents, soap, wool, and synthetic fibers. There has been cases in which eczema can develop due to environmental factors such as stress.
The rash is commonly seen in children and babies, though it can occur at any age. It is not contagious. Treatment includes topical medicine to manage the itching and dryness, and to avoid substances that the skin is sensitive to.
Rashes caused by contact dermatitis can appear as red skin, bumps, blisters, scales, crusts, or sores. The rash is usually itchy. Contact dermatitis is typically caused by allergies or when an irritating substance — such as solvents, acid, and/or detergents — touches your skin. Allergic contact dermatitis is commonly caused by skin contact with poison ivy, cosmetics, and/or medication applied to the skin.
Treatment includes washing the skin and avoiding the substances that caused the rash. Management of the itch usually means using topical medications or anti-itch lotions.
Impetigo is a skin rash that is caused by skin infection. The infection comes from one of the two bacterias: group A streptococcus or Staphylococcus aureus. The rash is brown, crusty sores/blisters that occur on the nose or around the mouth. It can be very itchy.
The rash is contagious — if you scratch the rash and then touch other areas of your body and/or someone else, the rash will spread. Treatment includes antibiotic topical medicines; in severe cases, oral antibiotic medicines may be needed.
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