Most of us, at some point or another, will experience a rash on our skin. A skin rash, also known as a skin lesion or erythema, is quite common but its cause may not be easily identifiable. Symptoms are characteristic of inflammation and skin redness and can be caused by a reaction to several different conditions including heat, allergies (to a medication or food, for example), infections, plants (such as poison ivy) or an illness such as measles or chickenpox. There are many types of rashes but three of the most common include eczema, hives and contact dermatitis.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, affects 10 and 20 percent of children and 1 to 3 percent of adults. This chronic condition causes skin to flare up in dry, red, irritated and itchy patches on the face, limbs and upper body. If the area becomes infected, the skin may develop small, fluid-filled bumps that ooze a clear or yellowish liquid.
Hives, also known as urticaria, affects about 20 percent of people at some time during their lives. It can be triggered by many different kinds of substances, from food and latex to pet dander and pollen. Urticaria usually appears suddenly and starts as an itchy patch of skin that turns into red welts.
Contact dermatitis rashes appear when the skin comes in contact with an irritant or an allergen. Common symptoms of a contact dermatitis rash include dry and scaly skin, itching and a burning sensation. Culprits often include cleaning products, perfumed soap, detergent, fabric softeners and shampoos. Allergic contact dermatitis can be the result of exposure to an allergic substance such as poison ivy, latex or even a fragrance. Patients who are exposed to these allergens may experience an itchy or runny nose, hives that can result in blisters and asthmatic symptoms such as wheezing and difficulty breathing.
Relief and Treatment
Itchy, irritated skin is uncomfortable but it is best to avoid scratching skin, which could worsen the condition and lead to a bacterial infection. Most simple rashes will show improvement with a few at home therapies and avoiding exposure to more irritating substances. Follow these general guidelines if you start to see a rash:
- Avoid itching skin.
- Use warm (not hot) water to clean hands/body.
- Pat dry, don’t rub skin.
- Take note of any new exposures (lotions, plants, foods, medications).
- Allow affected area exposure to the air as much as possible.
- Use a cold compress to calm inflamed skin and reduce itchiness.
- Hydrocortisone is widely recommended as a first stop for rashes, but if this does nothing to reduce the symptoms, consult a physician.
- Apply aloe vera gel, which not only has medicinal properties that helps to heal the rash, but also helps reduce possible scarring with very severe skin rashes.
- If the itching becomes intolerable, it’s time to see a doctor, who may prescribe a two- to three-week course of oral steroids.
- When necessary, medications such as ointments, antihistamines or anti-inflammatories may also be necessary.
If left untreated, many dermatologic rashes can spread and cause further complications which may include severe blistering of the throat, fever or painful swelling of your skin.
No Appointment Necessary – Visit eMedical Urgent Care
Instead of trying to diagnose and treat your rash on your own, don’t hesitate to stop by eMedical Urgent Care Walk-in Clinic where we can assess the real cause of what’s making your skin irritated. Our experienced providers can diagnose and treat urgent conditions quickly and expertly for adults and children with convenient hours designed to fit any busy schedule. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you and your family by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.