Diseases & Conditions



What is Rash?

Rash is any skin change that affects its appearance, color or texture. Rashes may be widespread over the body or may be localized in one part. Rashes can be warm, bumpy, dry, cracked, itchy, blistered, cracked or painful.

Causes for Getting Rashes

There are many causes for developing rashes.

  • Anxiety
  • Food allergy
  • Allergies to dyes, insect stings, medicines, metals like nickel or zinc
  • Contact with any skin irritant
  • Viral or bacterial infections. For example, rashes can be due to chicken pox which is caused by a virus. Measles, small pox and cold sores can also cause rashes to appear on the body.
  • Fungal infections such as ringworm etc
  • Adverse reaction to vaccination
  • Skin conditions such as acne or eczema
  • Excessive exposure to heat or sun
  • Irritation which may be due to rubbing of the skin against clothing which contain abrasives
  • Chafing of the skin, causing friction
  • Menstruation

Some uncommon causes for developing rashes may include

  • Psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases
  • Pregnancy
  • Lead poisoning
  • Lyme Disease
  • Continuous scratching of a particular spot

Consideration for a Rash

Rash is often determined taking into consideration its obvious characteristics and taking into consideration various signs and symptoms.

Prevention of Rashes

Identify the cause for the rash and keep away from products that cause rashes on your skin. Check if you have been vaccinated for chicken pox, MMR, measles and do so if you haven’t been immunized. Wash your hands often to prevent spread of viruses.

Tests for a Rash

The doctor may order various tests to find out the cause for the rash. The doctor may suspect some allergy. These tests may include allergy testing, skin biopsy, blood tests and skin scrapings.

Treatment of Rashes

Home Treatment for Rashes

Many of the simple rashes will clear on their own with some skin care and avoidance of skin irritating substances.

  • Do not scrub your skin vigorously
  • Use gentle cleansers in stead of soap. Using soap can worsen rashes
  • Do not apply too much of ointments or cosmetic lotions on the rash.
  • Use only warm water and not hot water when you clean yourself. Do not rub a towel on your skin, only pat it down.
  • Leave the afflicted area open to the air
  • Eliminate any new lotions or cosmetics you may have used
  • You can try calamine lotion for oak, sumac or poison ivy rash or any other kind of contact dermatitis.
  • Over the counter hydrocortisone cream (1%) can be used to soothe the rash. If you have eczema, you can apply moisturizer over the skin. Oatmeal baths which you can find in drugstores can also relieve eczema, shingles, and psoriasis symptoms.

When to Visit a Doctor

You need to see a doctor immediately if you have developed a rash and are running short of breath, your face is swollen or your throat feels tight. A child that develops a purple bruise should be taken to a doctor for further examination. A rash that is accompanied by sore throat, fever or joint pain should be examined by a doctor. If you develop any swelling on some tender area or a streak of redness, you should get it looked at by a qualified doctor. In case you develop a rash while taking new medications, you will have to revert back to the doctor. In case home treatment for rash is not working or if the rash is worsening, you will have to go to a doctor, either a general practitioner or dermatologist.

Treatment of Rashes

The dermatologist may recommend anti itch creams that contain menthol, pramoxine (Sama Sensitive, Itch-X) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Dephenhydramine (Benadryl) and other anti histamines such as coratadine (Alavert, Calaritin Redi Tabs, Claritin) or Chlorpheniramine (ChlorTrimeton) and cetrizine (Zyrtec) may be prescribed.