Skin rashes are your skin’s way of warning you that something isn’t quite right. They commonly occur in response to toxins, allergies, infections, or a disease that your body is fighting. It’s your body’s first sign that something needs to change or be treated, whether it’s your laundry soap or the amount of stress that you’re dealing with.
If you notice a new or worsening rash, the first step is getting in touch with a trusted dermatologist. While it’s likely not life-threatening, it can be irritating and lead to infection if not properly treated.
Contact dermatitis is caused by skin contact with something your skin is either irritated or allergic to and can develop over time. Almost anything can cause contact dermatitis, including soaps, perfumes, jewelry, lotions, animals, plants, and cosmetics. If you have contact dermatitis, it will appear as a red, irritated rash at the points of contact with the allergen or exposure. Once the culprit is removed, the rash will typically clear up within a few weeks. To ease itching, try calamine lotions, over the counter hydrocortisone or ice packs.
Shingles are caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, called herpes zoster. It can often occur in those who have a compromised immune system. Shingles rashes actually start as an aching feeling and sensitivity to touch, then turns into small clusters of fluid-filled blisters that can burst and crust.
Ringworm, or tinea corporis, is a very common fungal infection that actually has nothing to do with a worm. It is named as such because of its characteristic “ring” shape. It also presents with raised, red edges, and dryness or flaking around the site and is usually very itchy. They most often appear on the arms or legs. This fungus is highly contagious, and should be treated quickly by a dermatologist. They can prescribe powerful antifungals that will get rid of the rash.
Hives are caused by the release of histamine by the immune system. They often occur when you’ve encountered an allergen, or when you’re experiencing an unusual amount of stress. When your immune system releases histamines, blood vessels in the skin leak fluid into the epidermis, causing swelling and redness. You may also identify hives by their raised, “spongy” texture and the fact that they cause intense itching. Hives will also turn white, called “blanching,” when you press on them.
Athlete’s Foot is also a fungal infection, like ringworm. If you’re dealing with Athlete’s Foot, you’ll notice a red rash on the soles of your feet and between your toes, intense itching, and sometimes blisters that can break and cause sores on the skin. It thrives in warm, moist environments such as public showers, locker rooms, and saunas. It is easily treated with a topical antifungal.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately.