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Health Encylopedia

Definition Changes in color or texture of the skin.
Alternative Names Skin redness or inflammation; Skin lesion; Rubor; Skin rash; Erythema
Considerations Often, the cause of a rash can be determined from its visible characteristics and other co-occurring symptoms.
Common Causes
  • Contact dermatitis
  • following exposure to:
  • Dyes and other chemicals found in clothing
  • Chemicals found in elastic and rubber products
  • Cosmetics
  • Feminine deodorants
  • Poison ivy
  • and
  • poison oak
  • Eczema
  • Medications or
  • insect bites that cause allergic reactions
  • Various diseases cause rashes, including:
  • Measles
  • Lupus erythematosus
  • Roseola
  • Hand-foot-mouth disease
  • Fifth disease
  • Juvenile arthritis
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Home Care
  • Most common rashes will improve with gentle skin care and avoidance of irritating substances. Avoid scrubbing the skin, minimize the use of soap (using gentle cleansers when possible), and moisturize frequently. Eliminate any newly added cosmetics or lotions. Hydrocortisone cream (1%) is available without prescription and may soothe many rashes.
  • Call your health care provider if
  • Home treatment is ineffective, or if symptoms persist or worsen.
  • Other symptoms accompany the rashes.
  • A dermatologist is most qualified to deal with skin disorders, though many primary care doctors are comfortable dealing with common rashes.
    What to expect at your health care provider's office A detailed medical history will be obtained, including questions about past medical conditions, medications, problems that run in the family, and recent illnesses or exposures. A thorough physical examination will then be performed. Diagnostic tests may include:
  • Skin biopsy
  • Skin scrapings
  • Blood tests
  • Depending on the cause of your rash, treatments may include topical medications, oral medications, skin surgery, or tincture of time.