In general, rashes are an inflammatory skin response to some type of irritant or condition. Although different rashes have their own specific characteristics, most rashes involve a reddening of the skin that may include raised spots. Rashes can appear as a cluster of blisters, welts, or blotches, they may be dry, scaly, or itchy, and localized or widespread. Some rashes clear up on their own in a matter of days, while others won’t disappear without treatment. Although most rashes are nothing to worry about, some may be a sign of a serious health concern.
Many factors can contribute to the development of rashes. Three of the most common rashes are classified as:
Eczema: Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is extremely common, affecting up to 20% of children and 3% of adults, worldwide. This chronic condition is characterized by red, itchy patches of skin that may appear virtually anywhere, including your hands, feet, ankles, arms and legs, neck, and upper body. Although eczema can develop at any age, most adults who have the condition developed it in their first year of life.
Contact dermatitis: This rash-causing condition is another type of eczema, and it’s one that most people experience at least once in their life. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when something touches your skin and causes an allergic reaction in the form of a rash. Poison ivy and latex are two possible causes of allergic contact dermatitis.
Another form of the condition, irritant contact dermatitis, is caused by contact with a skin irritant. Harsh chemicals like battery acid and bleach can cause such rashes. Even mild substances like water, soap, and food can sometimes cause irritant contact dermatitis. Diaper rash is another form of this condition.
Medication rash: Some people develop a rash as a side effect of a drug, or as an allergic reaction to it. Many medications can cause rashes, including antibiotics and diuretics. Some medications are more likely to cause a rash when your skin is exposed to sunlight. This type of rash typically disappears once the medication is stopped.
Other rash-causing conditions include intertrigo, an inflammatory condition caused by skin-on-skin friction in warm, moist areas of the body, such as underneath the breasts, in the groin, under the arms, or between abdominal folds. Heat rash occurs when your sweat is obstructed, usually because of overdressing in hot, humid weather. Lichen planus is a non-contagious inflammatory condition that causes a rash of firm, shiny, reddish-purple bumps on various parts of the body.
Because there are so many potential causes, it’s important to have a dermatologist diagnose your rash so you can get proper care. If your condition is caused by a bacterial skin infection, you may need antibiotics. Many rashes can be treated through self-care measures combined with the use of topical corticosteroid creams designed to reduce swelling and redness. If you have eczema, tacrolimus ointment or pimecrolimus cream can help.
Always seek immediate medical care if you have a rash that covers your entire body, comes on suddenly and spreads rapidly, begins to blister, is painful or infected, or is accompanied by a fever.
At Easton Dermatology Associates, we accept most major insurance plans. Here is a list of some of the plans we accept. Please contact our office if you do not see your insurance provider listed.