Out of all the different types of skin conditions, the term “rash” is the most ubiquitous in its usage. Indeed, a rash can be of a variety of types, and have many different types of appearances and causes. Therefore, for individuals that are suffering from a rash, the first step is to identify the specific type of rash. Once correctly identified, the rash can then be treated accordingly.

Common appearances for the various types of rashes include the following:

  • Dry scaly skin patches not caused by an infection or illness

  • Fungal infections that are the cause of scaly skin

  • Red itchy bumps and patches of red irritated skin

Although it might seem like a rash is common, rashes have many causes. A seemingly harmless rash could possibly be an indicator of a larger problem.

Allergic drug rashes are common, and often occur when a person is in the first two weeks of taking a drug. This occurs more often when a person is taking drugs that the person has taken before versus drugs they are taking for the first time. Upon cessation of the drug, a doctor and/or medical professional can determine with a degree of confidence that the medicine was not the culprit if the rash continues.

Types of Rashes

The most common type of rash is called atopic dermatitis. This is most commonly associated with Eczema. This condition is hereditary and manifests itself first in childhood with chapped cheeks, and scaly skin on the scalp, elbows, legs, and torso. It is commonly associated with such things as hay fever, and asthma. outbreaks of eczema are often associated with these types of allergic reactions. Some of the other common types of rashes include:

Eczema: often occurs and reoccurs randomly. It is often associated with an allergic reaction, though not all eczema reactions are due to allergies. Skin affected by this type of rash tends to be red and itchy, and can become crusty and even can weep. These rashes can become quite uncomfortable sometimes. Typically, this is treated by topic creams and by the removal of the allergen from the person or for the person to avoid coming into contact with the allergen whenever possible.

Contact Dermatitis: is caused by coming in contact with environmental influences that cause a rash. An example of this is making contact with poison ivy or poison oak. Another common cause for this is rashes caused by contact with nickel in costume jewelry. This common skin ailment is treated by first staying out of contact with the offending item or plant, then applying over-the-counter or prescription (depending on the severity) topical cream.

Fungal Infections: can also cause rashes though they are not nearly as common as atopic or contact dermatitis. Areas that are affected by fungal infections are generally the folds of the skin. Often times the infection side is bright red with pustules surrounding the area of the infection. One common misconception is that fungal infections are easily transmitted.

Impetigo: can affect adults, but it mainly targets children. It is characterized by yellowish or gold sores that may break open around the folds of the mouth and nose.

Viral Rash: unlike herpes or shingles, which stay localized to certain areas of the body, this rash is symmetrical and tends to spread itself all over the body. These rashes do not last long however, and they tend to disappear with a few days or so. Treatment is normally directed towards itch relief.

Granuloma Annulare: manifests itself by small, firm bumps all over the backs of the hands, forearms, and feet. This condition is not life threatening, but it can detract from a person’s self esteem. The cause for this disease is unknown, but it has been associated with diabetes and thyroid disease.

Lichen Planus: is characterized by large purplish-blue colored bumps that are also angular in shape. These can appear normally on the backs of the ankles, wrists, and legs, but they can also appear in places like the genitalia, the inside of the mouth, the hair, and the nails.

Pityraisis Rosea: commonly manifests itself in the form of a large pink or red area that is also scaly and irritated and soon other skin lesions will occur. The lesions will often become itchy and the skin further irritated. This condition is commonly diagnosed with a blood test. These rashes and lesions can occur on the back, neck, chest, legs, and upper arms, but the rash may occur differently depending on the person. This condition is not contagious.

Treating Rashes

Generally, Eczema and Contact Dermatitis are treated with creams, and ointments. In severe cases, steroids can be given orally or injected to help fight against itchiness and other discomfort associated with rashes.


Fungal infections are treated with creams such as Clotrimazole (generally known as Myclelex or Lotrimin), and terbinafine. Lichen planus and pityraisis rosea can both be treated with antihistamines like Benadryl or light therapy .

Medications to treat heart disease and high blood pressure can be used to treat lichen planus.

See your doctor to confirm your plan before beginning any treatment programs for rashes. Since rashes can be caused by many different stimuli, self-diagnosis of a rash is not recommended.

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