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Rash is a general term that covers a wide range of potential conditions. Below is a list of the most common conditions. It is important that you make an appointment with your dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Keratosis pilaris (KP): This is a common skin disorder most often located on the upper arms, thighs and cheeks of the face. It appears as rough-surfaced red bumps that are located at the opening of a hair follicle. This condition usually appears in childhood or teenage years.Generally, KP is an inherited skin disorder but can develop without a family history. Most people with KP experience improvement in the summer and worsening in the winter months. Gentle chemical exfoliants and consistent moisturizing can improve the condition.
Folliculitis: Sometimes called “razor bumps,” folliculitis is due to inflammation around the hair follicles. It presents as red, raised, sometimes itchy and painful bumps. In some cases the bumps can become infected. Topical benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics may be prescribed by your provider to treat the condition. If the rash appears after shaving, changing your routine may help prevent it from occurring.
Seborrheic dermatitis: Commonly known as dandruff, this rash can appear on the scalp, chest and face as pink patches with flaking. The condition is usually chronic and recurrent. Seborrheic dermatitis can flare with stress and seasonal changes. Topical treatment can improve flares and may need to be continued for long-term maintenance.
Poison ivy: This very common allergic reaction to oil in the poison ivy plant results in swelling, redness, itching and in severe cases, painful blisters. The oil may persist on pets or clothing and may cause the rash even if you don’t come into direct contact with the plant. Oral antihistamines and topical steroids may be used to treat the condition.
Athlete’s foot: Athlete’s foot is a common rash caused by a fungus that infects the top layer of the skin. It commonly appears between the toes and on the bottoms of the feet presenting as red, scaly, itchy or burning skin. Since it is contagious, prevention is very important. Always wear shoes when walking in public areas, especially locker rooms and pool decks. Treatment will most likely include a topical antifungal.
Insect bites: Insect bites are very common especially in warm weather climates and wooded areas. The reaction from a bite can lead to severe itching, hives or even blisters. You can treat bites with a topical over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, antihistamines (oral Benadryl, Zyrtec, Claritin) and avoid scratching the area.
Hives or urticaria: Hives will appear as itchy welts on the skin, and usually resolve within 24 hours. There can be triggers for acute and chronic hives but the exact cause is usually very difficult to pinpoint. The eruption can often resolve spontaneously over months to years. If the condition is chronic, you should make an appointment with your provider to find the best treatments for you.
For any persistent rash, it is very important you make an appointment with your dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment. It is also a great idea to take pictures of your rash since rashes can change over time and may look different at the time of your appointment.