A rash is the term to describe a change in the skin that affects its texture, color or appearance. Rashes may cause the skin to become red, itchy, bumpy, dry, cracked, blistered, or swollen, and may be painful. Rashes can affect localized areas of the body, or may spread throughout the body.
Causes: The causes of rashes vary widely. Symptoms of many rashes are similar, often making them a challenge to diagnosis. They are also often difficult to treat because the causes are numerous. Treatment will focus on relieving symptoms after a sometimes-estimated diagnosis. Often rashes will disappear on their own in several days, or may be relieved with simple lotions and creams.
If you suffer from a rash, Dr. Lauber will try to determine the cause by asking questions about what you may have been exposed to and what your family health history entails. Some causes of rashes include:
Contact Dermatitis: Have you ever used a new type of skincare product or detergent, only to have your skin become red and irritated? If so, you may have experienced contact dermatitis. This condition occurs when foreign substances or excess exposure to water makes your skin itchy, red, and inflamed.
Common materials causing rashes include: soaps, detergents, perfumes, cosmetics, jewelry, certain fabrics, or latex. Usually rashes caused by allergy or irritants only affect the area of the skin exposed to the rash-causing material. Treatment may involve avoiding the allergen that caused the rash, as well as using topical steroids, such as over-the-counter 1 % hydrocortisone. Sometime you just need to see a dermatologist.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when the skin develops an allergic reaction after being exposed to a foreign substance. This causes the body to release inflammatory chemicals that can make the skin feel itchy and irritated.
Common causes of allergic contact dermatitis include:
- jewelry such as nickel or gold
- latex gloves
- perfumes or chemicals in cosmetics and skincare products
- poison oak or poison ivy
Bacterial Infections: The most common bacterial infection is impetigo, which is caused by staph or strep germs. It is more common in children than adults, and is contagious. The rash may appear as small blisters or scabs, with swollen glands nearby. Impetigo is not serious, and may go away on its own. If not, prescription antibiotic ointment or oral antibiotics will be prescribed.
Viral Infections: Viral infections such as herpes, shingles, or chicken pox, are contagious conditions that may produce a rash, generally characterized by red, itchy bumps all over the body. Patients with vial rashes will usually have other viral symptoms such as nausea, sneezing, and coughing. These infections usually last a few days to a week and go away on their own. Treatment is generally not necessary, but may include cream for itch relief.
Fungal Infections: Final infections affect the skin and often cause rashes. For more information, see the section of the website “Medical Conditions” and click the “Fungus” link.
Skin Conditions: Other types of skin conditions such as acne, hives, rosacea, psoriasis and eczema, may also cause rashes. See the section of the website “Medical Conditions” for more information about these diseases.
Toxic substances that can cause irritant contact dermatitis include:
- battery acid
- drain cleaners
- pepper spray
Also known as ‘hand eczema,’ irritant contact dermatitis can occur when the skin comes in contact with less irritating materials like soap — or even water — too often. People whose hands are frequently exposed to water, such as hairdressers, bartenders, and healthcare workers, often experience irritant contact dermatitis.