Scratching the Itch: Common Skin Rashes (and Tips for Relief)

Common Skin Rashes

You can’t always avoid letting things get under your skin, especially when those things are common skin rashes. From scaly patches to itchy hives and even painful blisters, rashes aren’t usually hard to spot–but they can be tough to identify. Skin rashes can be caused by a variety of factors, and the wrong treatment could make your condition worse instead of better. To help you reach a quick diagnosis and soothing relief, we’re offering a rundown of the five most common types of skin rashes and what to do when they strike.

1.  Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

Eczema is a chronic skin condition that commonly affects children (though it can last into adulthood). It typically presents as dry, red, and raised patches of skin that are intensely itchy. These can occur anywhere on the body, but are most commonly found on the elbows, hands, face, and feet. The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but experts believe it’s usually caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Common triggers for eczema include stress, certain foods, harsh soaps and detergents.

Eczema can’t be cured, but lifestyle changes and certain treatments can help reduce symptoms. Treatment usually involves keeping the skin moisturized, avoiding known triggers, and using topical steroid creams like hydrocortisone to control itching and inflammation.

2. Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a type of skin rash that occurs when the skin comes into contact with an irritant or allergen. This can include things like certain soaps or fragrances, chemical detergents, metals like nickel or gold, and even plants like poison ivy. The rash can appear anywhere from a few days to a few days after exposure and usually presents with redness, bumps, burning, and sometimes blisters.

The primary treatment for contact dermatitis is to identify and avoid the substance causing your reaction. Over-the-counter steroid creams and antihistamines can help alleviate symptoms. Allergy immunotherapy, which helps train your immune system to tolerate allergenic substances, can also help provide lasting relief.

3. Shingles

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful, blistering rash. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox is at risk for shingles, especially adults over 50. The rash typically affects one side of the body and presents with painful blisters, burning or tingling sensations, fever and headache.

Shingles can last as long as 2-3 weeks, but most people only get it once. Antiviral medications like acyclovir or valacyclovir can help shorten the duration and severity of shingles if started within 72 hours of symptom onset. Adults over 50 can also receive a shingles vaccination that reduces your risk of reactivating the virus.

4. Fungal Infections

Ringworm, athlete’s foot, yeast infections–these common ailments are all fungal infections, a group of skin rashes caused by fungus that thrives in warm, moist environments like the groin, feet, and underarms. Fungal infections have a wide range of symptoms depending on the cause and location; ringworm causes a red ring-shaped rash while athlete’s foot and yeast infections cause itchy, burning rashes that may crack or ooze.

Over-the-counter antifungal creams or ointments are the first line of treatment for fungal infections. A doctor may prescribe oral antifungals or stronger creams in severe cases. You can reduce your risk of fungal infections by keeping prone areas dry and clean and by wearing flip-flops around public areas like pools, showers, and gyms.

5. Swimmer’s Itch (Cercarial Dermatitis)

Swimmer’s Itch is a common skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to microscopic parasites found in bodies of water like lakes, ponds, and oceans. When swimming or wading in warm, shallow waters, these parasites can burrow into your skin and cause a red, itchy rash that looks like pimples or blisters. Symptoms can begin within minutes to days after swimming in contaminated waters. Swimmer’s Itch usually occurs in children and is most common in the spring and summer months.

Most cases of Swimmer’s Itch do not require medical attention. Over-the-counter antihistamines, anti-itch creams, and topical steroids can help relieve itching and irritation. Try to avoid scratching the affected areas, as this can lead to secondary bacterial infections.

When rashes get under your skin, Urgent Care of Fairhope is here to help. Our healthcare team can diagnose and treat skin rashes in our convenient walk-in clinic with friendly care and fast results. Take a break from scratching and check our current wait-times to see how quickly you can get in, get out, and get on the road to rash relief.

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