Posted by: Skin and Cancer Institute in Medical Dermatology

woman scratching her red back

Itchy, red, painful rashes are nobody’s idea of fun. And if you’ve ever had one, you know they can be pretty tricky to get rid of. To make things worse, there are tons of different kinds of rashes, each with its unique symptoms. So how do you know which kind you have? And more importantly, how do you get rid of it? Never fear. We’re here to help. Here are seven common types of rashes, including what they look like and how to treat them.

1. Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is one of the most common types of rash that you can get. It happens when your skin comes in contact with an irritant. This can include a chemical substance, an allergen, or even water that’s too hot or cold. There are approximately 15,000 things that can cause a rash when they touch our skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). A contact dermatitis rash appears as redness, itching, burning, or stinging. Sometimes it also causes blisters or bumps filled with pus. 

The most common irritants include: 

  • Soap
  • Gasoline and diesel oil
  • Disinfectants
  • Pesticides and fertilizers
  • Chemicals used to cut oil and grease 
  • Bleach/detergents 
  • Plants
  • Fruit juice
  • Hand sanitizers

To treat contact dermatitis, you need to identify and avoid the source of the irritation. If that’s not possible, your dermatologist may prescribe a corticosteroid cream or ointment to reduce inflammation. In severe cases, you may need oral prednisone. You can reduce the feeling of itching with a cold compress. Your provider might recommend colloidal oatmeal baths or calamine lotion if you have open sores. 

2. Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Atopic dermatitis, is also known as eczema and is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that often starts in childhood. Eczema sometimes runs in families and is often linked to allergies and asthma. The rash appears as dry, red, itchy patches that can become crusted or scaly. In severe cases, eczema can lead to the skin cracking and bleeding.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for atopic dermatitis, but there are ways to manage the symptoms. These include using moisturizers to keep your skin hydrated, topical corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, and antihistamines to relieve itching. In severe cases, you may need oral corticosteroids or light therapy, which can help with itching and inflammation.

3. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an inflammatory and chronic skin condition that affects about 2 – 3 percent of the population worldwide. It causes the skin to produce new cells too quickly, leading to a build-up of thick, scaly patches. The rash is usually red or silvery and itchy, and it can be painful. It often appears on the knees, elbows, and scalp, but it can occur anywhere on the body.

Some treatments can help manage psoriasis’s symptoms, but there is no cure. These include topical corticosteroids, moisturizers, light therapy (which can make affected skin cells grow more slowly), and oral or injected medications.

4. Rosacea

Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that affects about 16 million Americans and about five percent of the population worldwide. It usually starts in adulthood and is more common in women than men. The rash appears as redness and pimple-like spots on the face, often around the nose and cheeks. In severe cases, it can also cause swelling and inflammation of the eyes.

There is no cure for rosacea, but there are treatments that can help to control the symptoms. These include avoiding triggers, such as sunlight, stress, and alcohol; topical creams and gels; oral antibiotics to reduce inflammation; and laser therapy.

5. Shingles

A viral infection, shingles cause a painful, blistering rash. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, varicella zoster virus (VZV). The rash usually appears on one side of the body or face in a band-like pattern. It can also cause fatigue, fever, and headache. 

The best way to prevent shingles is to get the vaccine, which is recommended for people over 60. If you get shingles, treatment focuses on relieving pain and preventing complications. This can include antiviral medications, pain relievers, and cooling compresses.

6. Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal infection that causes a ring-shaped rash on the skin. It is often itchy and can be uncomfortable. It is found most commonly on the arms, legs, trunk, or buttocks, but it can occur anywhere on the body. A worm does not cause ringworm. It gets its name from its ring-like shape.

You can treat ringworm with antifungal medications, which you can apply to your skin. Oral antifungal medications may be necessary if your case is severe.

7. Heat Rash

Heat rash is a common skin condition that occurs when sweat ducts become blocked, and sweat accumulates under the skin. The rash appears as small, red bumps on the skin. It is most common in hot, humid weather and often affects babies and young children.

To treat heat rash, you need to avoid the source of heat that created it in the first place and keep the affected area cool. You can also use over-the-counter creams or ointments to relieve itching. 

In Summary

As anyone who has ever had a skin rash knows, it can be a very uncomfortable experience. The itchiness and irritation can make it difficult to concentrate on anything else, and in some cases, the rash may even cause pain.

If you are dealing with a skin rash, it is crucial to see a dermatologist so that they can properly diagnose and treat the condition. If you are experiencing discomfort due to a skin rash, don’t hesitate to contact the Skin and Cancer Institute today for an appointment with one of our knowledgeable providers, who will help relieve your discomfort and put you on the path to healing.