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Reviewing Common Skin Rashes

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD August 20, 2019

Introduction

This Straight, No Chaser post reviews a few common skin rashes. The guide features in-depth discussion on several of them.

Common Skin Rashes

Here are a few of the more common skin rashes. There are many additional rashes and conditions not covered in this brief guide. This include patterns seen in sexually transmitted infections. If you have any questions or concerns about your condition, please consult a physician. Click the links for additional posts discussing them in detail.

Contact dermatitis

poison ivy

Have you ever been affected by poison ivy, poison oak or sumac? Has costume jewelry (most likely containing nickel) made you break out? Contact with chemicals to which the patient is allergic or with skin irritants cause this condition. Contact dermatitis can occur anywhere there’s contact with an irritant or allergen. It tends to be weepy and oozy. Furthermore, it may discolor this skin.

Diaper rash

Common skin rashes - diaper rash

Diaper rash is an irritant contact dermatitis caused by prolonged exposure to urine and/or feces. The rash occurs due to entrapment by a diaper or other restrictive garments. You’ll see it in the distribution of the diaper.

Drug eruptions

Common skin rashes - Drug eruptions

Drug eruptions represent a wide range of rashes brought on by antibiotics and other medicines. The lesions are mostly non-specific and will resolve with stopping use of the medicine.

Eczema (Atopic dermatitis)

Common skin rashes - eczema

The lesions of eczema are red itchy, weeping rashes. They are most commonly seen on the inner aspects of the elbows and in back of the knees. They also are seen on the cheeks, neck, wrists, and ankles. Eczema is commonly found in patients who also have asthma and/or hay fever.

Hives (urticaria)

Common skin rashes - hives

Hives are red bumps and wheals that commonly are causes by drug exposure. They appear and resolve suddenly, most typically in about eight hours. Due to the risk of recurrence and breathing difficulty, drugs and foods that cause these should be avoided once identified.

Miliaria (heat rash)

Common skin rashes - heat rash

Heat rash is caused by blocked sweat ducts, which occurs most commonly during hot and humid temperatures. These rashes resemble small blisters or acne-like lesions. Also, heat rash is more likely to occur in areas that can’t release heat as easily. These areas include the groin, elbow creases, under breasts and around the neck and upper chest. Getting to a cooler environment is often sufficient treatment.

Psoriasis

Common skin rashes - psoriasis

Psoriasis is recognizable due to silvery flakes of skin, most commonly occurring on the elbows, knees and scalp.

Seborrheic dermatitis

Common skin rashes - seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrhea is the most common adult rash. You’ll see a scaly, itchy and red rash that is most likely located on the scalp, forehead, eyebrows, cheeks, and ears. In infants, it may involve the scalp and diaper area.

Stasis dermatitis

common skin rashes - stasis dermatitis

Stasis dermatitis is often seen in individuals with poor circulation in the veins. It’s a weepy, oozy rash that occurs on the lower legs of those affected.

General Treatment Considerations

In the absence of other symptoms, it is perfectly reasonable to wait a few days to see if most rashes resolve on their own. Also, it’s reasonable to treat symptoms such as itching and dry skin with over-the-counter remedies.

Consider the following:

  • Anti-itch creams containing 1% hydrocortisone cream can be helpful.
  • Oral antihistamines, including diphenhydramine (eg. Benadryl) and hydroxyzine can be helpful for itching. However, you should be careful about side effects, including drowsiness, which can affect your function and operation of machinery.
  • Moisturizing lotions are always a good choice. They prevent the dryness and cracking of skin that can lead to infections.
  • Antifungal medications are useful for athlete’s foot, jock itch or other obvious common fungal infections. These medicines tend to contain clotrimazole (Lotrimin), miconazole (Micatin), or terbinafine (Lamisil).

If these measures aren’t successful, if the rash persists, or if it becomes more widespread, you should consider visiting a physician or dermatologist.

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