Rashes 101

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What many people don’t realize is that a rash is not a diagnosis. It is a blanket term for many skin conditions that cause similar symptoms, either by discoloration or by changing the feeling of the surface of the skin. A rash that lasts longer than a week and is not successfully treated with over the counter rash treatments, or is accompanied by a fever, one should seek the opinion of a dermatologist as soon as possible.

The Most Common Noninfectious Skin Rashes

  1. Nummular Eczema: Mostly occurring in the wintertime, this type of eczema produces red, scaly circular bumps that typically are very oozy.
  2. Heat Rash: Heat rash occurs on the neck, groin, under the breasts and other places where sweat glands may be blocked off on a hot day. Heat rash appears as small pimples and the simple solution to treat heat rash is to move the affected to someplace cooler.
  3. Diaper Rash: Obviously, infants are the most likely to suffer from diaper rash. This occurs when waste is directly on the skin of the baby for too long of a period of time.
  4. Contact Dermatitis: This type of skin rash is very common as well. It occurs when an individual has some sort of contact with a chemical that he or she is allergic to. Commonly some plants, soaps and even jewelry containing nickel can cause an itchy, red and sometimes weepy rash.
  5. Seborrheic Dermatitis: The single most common rash in adults, usually producing red, itchy and flaky skin on the scalp, forehead and outer ears.
  6. Psoriasis: This rash is always a dry rash. It is usually found on the elbows, scalp and knees. It is characterized by an itchiness and dryness that result in flakes of skin that slough off when the area is scratched.
  7. Atopic Dermatitis: This is known in layman’s terms as Eczema. It is most prevalent in children, especially those who also suffer from hay fever and/or asthma. Eczema is typically found on the backs of the knees, wrists, hands and the inside of the elbows. Atopic Dermatitis is characterized by red, weepy, itchy skin.
  8. Drug Eruptions: Red, itchy rashes caused by the side effects of a medication.
  9. Stasis Dermatitis: Individuals with bad circulation in their lower legs, that leaves them with chronic swelling, can form this type of rash. It is often painful and oozy.
  10. Hives: Simply tiny little bumps that are itchy. They tend to not need treatment, but they can occur quite frequently.

Noninfectious skin rashes are not transmittable from host to host, so they can more than likely be treated with hydrocortisone, calamine lotion, an oral or topical anti-histamine, which are all available over the counter. These types of rashes should clear up over time on their own. Some, such as, Eczema and Psoriasis may be treated with a medicated ointment or treatment recommended by a dermatologist. A simple moisturizer can also be effective. Viral rashes such as Shingles are non-transmittable, unless the patient has a fever to accompany it or sores that are open. Viral rashes cannot be treated and have to run their course, although anti-itch and pain medication may be prescribed to decrease a patient’s bothersome symptoms.

The Most Common Infectious Skin Rashes

  • Ringworm (fungal)
  • Cellulitis (Bacterial)
  • Impetigo (Bacterial)
  • Folliculitis (Bacterial)

Rashes caused by a fungus will usually affect the inside of the elbows or under the breasts, places where there are folds. Contracting a fungal infection of the skin has nothing to do with hygiene. They can be characterized by small pustules (sacks filled with pus), a very red coloring and sometimes scaly patches. Basically they are like a yeast infection of the skin. Many dermatologists and patients mistake these rashes for eczema related rashes and treat for that. Fungal rashes and eczema are treated completely differently, so if a patient’s rash was misdiagnosed, it won’t take long to figure it out.

Fungal infections of the skin will be treated by a dermatologist just as any other fungal infection in the body would be treated. This is usually with medications such as Lamisil or Lotrimin.

Many people believe that fungal infections are contracted by dogs or cats, which is however not based on fact. The fact is more people contract fungal infections from public pools, showers, spas etc.

Bacterial rashes are often more painful and over the counter medications have little to no effect on the treatment of them. Typically, bacterial skin rashes are covered in pus, are weepy and develop plaque. A dermatologist will prescribe a topical cream, such as Bactrobin and/or oral antibiotics to try to cure or relieve the symptoms.

If any of the above treatments do not help, the rash worsens or spreads, it is imperative that you make an appointment to see a dermatologist if possible, if not your family practice physician.

Rashes and Smallpox

It is highly recommended by physicians, including dermatologists that those who suffer from Atopic Dermatitis and or Eczema should not get the smallpox vaccination. This is because these conditions can actually allow the smallpox vaccine to spread throughout the skin, which can become life threatening. Make sure to speak to your dermatologist about the safety of the vaccination for your type of skin condition.

Rashes can come in all different types, be caused by numerous things and can be treated in different ways. This is why it is important to have a rash correctly diagnosed so that a treatment plan can be started for you right away. Skin can be damaged by scratching at your itchy skin and by scratching you are increasing your risk for even uglier skin infections. If you have a rash, try an over the counter treatment for a few day. If you have no relief, consult a doctor.

 

 

 

 

 


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