What is a skin rash?

A rash is defined as a widespread eruption of skin lesions. It is a very broad medical term.

Rashes can vary in appearance greatly, and there are many potential causes. Because of the variety, there is also a wide range of treatments. A rash can be local to just one small part of the body, or it can cover a large area. They can be dry, moist, bumpy, smooth, cracked, or blistered; they can be painful, itch, and even change colour.

What causes a skin rash?

There are a number of potential causes of rashes, including allergies, diseases, reactions, and medications. They can also be caused by bacterial, fungal, viral, or parasitic infections.

One of the most common causes of rashes – contact dermatitis – occurs when the skin has a reaction to something that it has touched. The skin may become red and inflamed, and the rash tends to be weepy and oozy. Common causes include dyes in clothes, beauty products poisonous plants, such as poison ivy and sumac, chemicals, such as latex or rubber.

Certain medications can cause rashes in some people; this may be a side effect or an allergic reaction. Also, some medications, including some antibiotics, cause photosensitivity – they make the individual more susceptible to sunlight. The photosensitivity reaction looks similar to a sunburn.

What causes skin rashes?

Skin rashes can occur from a variety of factors, including infections, heat, allergens, immune system disorders and medications.

How do I treat a skin rash?

Rashes come in many forms and develop for many reasons.

However, there are some basic measures that can speed up recovery and ease some of the discomfort:

    • Use mild soap – not scented. These soaps are sometimes advertised for sensative skin, or for baby skin.
    • Avoid washing with hot water – opt for warm.
    • Try to allow the rash to breathe. Do not cover with a Band-Aid or bandage.
    • Do not rub the rash dry, pat it.
    • If the rash is dry, for instance, in eczema, use unscented moisturizers.
    • Do not use any cosmetics or lotions that may be causing the rash, especially newly purchased items.
    • Avoid scratching to lessen the risk of infection.