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What Could That Rash Be?

Bumps and itchiness and redness, oh my! Discovering a rash on your skin can be alarming. However, most rashes aren’t life threatening. Still, they can cause uncomfortable symptoms and complications, such as infections. Since there are many different reasons for rashes, be sure to visit your dermatologist. He or she can determine what’s causing your rash in order to treat it properly.

Common Causes

Here are some conditions that can result in a rash.

Atopic Dermatitis: Also known as eczema, this is a chronic skin condition in which you develop itchy red rashes that come and go over time. Many different irritants can trigger these rashes, such as:

  • Allergens like pet dander and dust mites

  • Soaps, detergents, and lotions with fragrances

  • Perfumes

  • Cleaning products

  • Cold, dry air

Allergic Reactions to Drugs: Rashes are the most common type of allergic reaction to medication. You might be taking a drug for days or weeks before an itchy rash develops. Contact your doctor if you notice a rash while you are taking a medication. Some of the most common drugs that cause allergic reactions are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, anti-seizure drugs, and ACE inhibitors.

Lupus: This is a disease of the immune system, and it can affect your skin in several different ways. For instance, you may develop a rash across your back or a butterfly-shaped rash on your nose and cheeks. With lupus, you may experience times when your symptoms disappear and other times—called flares—when they’re worse. Often, lupus affects other parts of your body besides your skin, such as your joints, muscles, and kidneys.

Poison Ivy, Oak, or Sumac: An oil found in these plants can cause an itchy, blistering rash. After your skin is exposed to the oil, it can take 12 to 72 hours for a rash to develop. The rash is not contagious and doesn’t spread. However, if you experience any swelling, or difficulty breathing or swallowing, you may be having a more severe reaction and should go to an emergency room right away.

Shingles: If you’ve had chickenpox, you can get shingles. The virus stays in your body and may reactivate many years later, resulting in a painful, blistering rash. If you get shingles, contact your doctor. Antiviral medication can reduce your symptoms, but it’s most effective when taken within three days of developing a rash.

When to Seek Immediate Care

Sometimes rashes can be more serious and require urgent treatment. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your dermatologist or go to the emergency room right away:

  • A rash that’s covering your entire body or spreading rapidly

  • Fever

  • Blistering

  • Yellow or green fluid, swelling, crusting, pain, or warmth where the rash is located




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