A rash is a noticeable change in the color, appearance, and/or texture of your skin. The affected skin is usually inflamed and discolored, and it may become red, patchy, scaly, itchy, bumpy, and/or irritated. Numerous factors can lead to skin rashes, including allergies, infections, heat, cosmetics, medications, diseases, and immune system disorders.
Our skin care specialists here at Colorado Skin & Vein can identify, diagnose, and effectively treat many types of skin rashes. Your dermatology provider will assess the etiology of the skin rash and treat it accordingly. Treatment can reduce your symptoms and improve the appearance of your skin. The best treatment is selected based on the type of rash and your individual needs. Oral treatments or topical treatments may be used on their own or in various combinations with other treatments to produce optimal results.
Here are some examples of common skin rashes and their treatments:
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that causes the skin to become itchy and red. This condition is chronic and tends to have periodic flare-ups. Eczema may also be accompanied by hay fever or asthma. Although it has no cure, eczema can be maintained by preventing and treating outbreaks. In addition to avoiding harsh soaps and using moisturizers, treatments include topical treatments, steroids, and immunomodulation therapies.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease with no known cure. One of the symptoms of this condition is a butterfly shaped rash over the nose and cheeks that may appear right before a flare-up or after exposure to sunlight. Lupus may also cause rash lesions in other areas of the body and discoloration of the fingers and toes. People with lupus tend to be sensitive to the sun. Treatment for lupus rashes focuses on management, minimization, and prevention.
Scabies is an infestation of Sarcoptes scabiei (“itch mites”). These microscopic mites can live and reproduce on the skin. When they burrow into the skin to lay eggs, they cause an itchy, red rash. Scabies is highly contagious and can be transferred through skin contact, clothing, and bedding. Treatment can be used to ease the discomfort of the rash and kill the mites and their eggs.
Impetigo is a bacterial infection that causes red sores that can be anywhere on the body. These sores may break open, develop a crust, and ooze fluid. More common in children, impetigo is highly contagious and can be transferred by close contact or contact with towels, clothing, sheets, toys, and other such items. Scratching these sores may spread them to other areas of the body. Impetigo is more likely to affect those who already have skin irritation, such as eczema or poison ivy. Antibiotic ointments, creams, and/or pills can be used to successfully treat impetigo.
Hives, or urticaria, are swollen welts of pale, red bumps on the skin. They appear suddenly and can appear anywhere on the body, even on the lips, tongue, and throat. Hives often itch and can burn or sting, and they may group together as plaques. They are usually caused by an allergic reaction but can have other unknown causes, including certain chemicals, food additives, medications, stings, infections, or even sunlight. Hives may last for a few hours or up to one day before they fade. The cause of hives is often difficult to identify. Treatment consists of avoiding the trigger when possible and managing or alleviating symptoms. Antihistamines can provide relief, especially if taken regularly. Epinephrine or cortisone medication may be used for severe outbreaks.
Staph infections are caused by a group of bacteria known as Staphylococcus. These bacteria can cause many different diseases, including impetigo, food poisoning, toxic shock syndrome, cellulitis, boils, and more. On the skin, infections may be reddened, swollen, and tender, and they may include abscesses or boils. Treatment depends on the type of infection and usually includes oral, topical, or intravenous antibiotics.
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that may affect the lungs, lymph glands, and other organs of the body. It can cause granulomas (nodules) of inflamed tissue in certain organs and sometimes affects the structure and function of these organs. Symptoms vary greatly, but as a skin rash, sarcoidosis forms tender, red bumps or patches. Sarcoidosis symptoms may appear suddenly and severely and last only a short while, or they may appear slowly and gradually and last a long time. The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown, and there is no cure. Effective treatment with drugs and/or steroids can reduce symptoms.
Keratosis pilaris is a common hereditary skin condition that causes small, hard bumps to appear. These bumps, sometimes called “chicken skin,” can appear on the upper arms, thighs, buttocks, face, and other areas, sometimes with swelling or redness. Keratosis pilaris occurs due to a buildup of keratin, which blocks the opening of hair follicles. While there is no cure, treatment can ease symptoms and reduce its effects. Moisturizers, topical exfoliants, microdermabrasion, topical retinoids, and even laser treatments may be used.
Pityriasis rosea is a common skin rash that is believed to be caused by a virus. It usually begins with a single, pink, scaly patch with a raised border that is oval or round. This is called the herald patch and ranges from two to 10 centimeters in diameter. Smaller oval patches may then appear in batches several days or weeks later, covering the chest, abdomen, back, legs, arms, and/or neck. Pityriasis rosea may last several months, but the rash does not appear to be contagious. It usually goes away on its own, though anti-inflammatory medicines or creams can be used to relieve any itching and reduce the rash. Antiviral medications may also shorten the duration of the rash.
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. With psoriasis, skin cells build up rapidly and form itchy, dry, red patches and thick, silvery scales. This common condition is chronic and often comes in waves or flare-ups. Treatments include topical treatments and immunomodulation treatments to manage the condition.
Lichen planus is a skin disease that can develop on the skin or inside the mouth. It can cause bumps that are firm, shiny, and reddish purple in color, sometimes accompanied by tiny white lines. Most of the time these bumps are few in number and appear on the wrists, ankles, lower back, and other areas. Lichen planus can form thick patches of skin that are rough, scaly, and sometimes itchy. The cause of lichen planus is unknown, and there is no cure. Treatment with antihistamines, topical corticosteroids, light therapy, retinoic acid, and creams can bring relief and speed healing.
Skin rashes can be irritating, uncomfortable, and unsightly. If you need diagnosis and treatment of a rash, our skin care experts are here to help you receive the proper treatment and care to achieve healthy, clear skin. To request your consultation, call (303) 683-3235 or complete our online contact form today.
Dr. Verebelyi is a nationally recognized authority on laser surgery. He is board certified by both the American Board of Family Practice and The American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine. Dr. Verebelyi helped create the Fundamentals of Laser Surgery course given by American Society of Laser Medicine & Surgery (ASLMS) where he has worked as both a director and instructor. He is a Fellow at the ASLMS, member of the American College of Phlebology and a member of Mensa.
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