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Rash Evaluation & Treatment

People of all ages can experience a skin rash. Also known as dermatitis, a rash is any area of skin that is red and irritated – rashes can also be itchy. A rash can have any number of causes, from contact with an irritant to infections. Treatment for skin rashes depends largely on the underlying cause of the rash and the severity of its symptoms. Your dermatologist can perform a rash evaluation to determine the skin rash causes and prescribe an effective rash treatment.

What Is A Rash?

Woman Scratching Her Arm Sitting on Bench at ParkRashes are eruptions in the skin that can take many different forms. Redness, itching and scaling are the most common symptoms that one may experience, however burning, pain, blisters, pustules, weeping, and welts may also occur. Some rashes have an infectious cause, some are due to allergic reactions, and others may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

Common Causes of Skin Rash

Skin rash causes can include:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis – a condition in which the body’s immune system treats a harmless substance, such as poison ivy or cosmetics, as a threat
  • Irritant contact dermatitis – rash develops after a chemical substance, such as household products or strong soaps, damages an area of skin
  • Skin disorders – certain skin disorders, such as eczema and psoriasis, can cause rashes
  • Infections – chicken pox, shingles, and measles can cause rashes
  • Insect bites – some insect bites can result in a rash
  • Heat – hot, humid weather can cause heat rash

Common Types of Rashes

Here is a list of the most common rashes we encounter at the Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery:

  • Poison oak/Poison ivy
  • Eczema/Atopic dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Pityriasis rosea
  • Perioral dermatitis
  • Scabies
  • Diaper rash
  • Ringworm/Athlete’s foot
  • Lichen planus
  • Medication reactions
  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Lupus
  • Hives
  • Shingles
  • Herpes virus eruptions
  • Folliculitis

How Are Rashes Diagnosed?

In many cases, a rash may be diagnosed through physical examination alone, however there are many tools available to aid in correctly identifying a skin eruption. These would include skin biopsies, cultures for bacteria, fungi and viruses, microscopic examination of skin scrapings, and blood tests. If you are experiencing a troubling rash, please schedule with a medical provider for evaluation. Urgent appointments are available for those suffering from rapidly evolving or extremely uncomfortable eruptions.

What Happens During a Rash Evaluation?

Dermatologists use a variety of tests and assessments to perform a rash evaluation. The type of test your dermatologist performs depends on your symptoms and health history.

Your dermatologist may perform a patch test to determine if your rash is the result of allergic contact dermatitis. In this test, your dermatologist places small patches, which look like adhesive bandages, on your skin. The patches contain several different substances that are likely to cause skin reactions. Your dermatologist will recommend that you wear the patches for 48 to 96 hours before returning to the office, where your dermatologist will remove the patches to look for signs of irritation.

Rash evaluation may include blood tests to check for infections. Your dermatologist may recommend a biopsy, in which they remove a small area of skin for evaluation in a medical laboratory.

Skin Rash Treatment

Rash treatment depends largely on the findings of the rash evaluation. Treatment for rashes from infectious diseases focuses on treating the infection, along with calamine lotion or prescription lotions or creams to alleviate symptoms. Treatment for eczema and atopic dermatitis may include medication, proper skin care, and avoiding the substances that trigger rashes and other symptoms.

For more information about rash evaluation, consult with a dermatologist at Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery. Our team of dermatology professionals can evaluate your rash and recommend a course of treatment.


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