A skin rash is among the most common dermatological conditions. There are hundreds of different types of rashes, but they all share certain characteristics in common. All rashes are abnormal changes of the texture and/or color of the skin. In addition, many rashes result in itching, burning, or inflammation.
Because there are so many types of rashes, and because they can appear differently from one person to the next and in different skin types, it may be necessary to meet with a skin rash dermatologist at Dallas Dermatology Partners to obtain an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment recommendations.
Types of Skin Rashes
The majority of rashes generally fall into one of three general categories. An infectious rash is caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. An inflammatory rash is associated with skin inflammation, either acute or chronic. Lastly, an immune system-related rash occurs as a result of abnormal immune system activity. Some of the most common types of skin rashes in these three categories are listed below:
This common condition occurs when something irritates the skin. The red, itchy rash might be caused by an irritating chemical or by an allergic reaction to a substance such as a fragrance, latex, or dye. The rash will develop on the portion of the skin that came into contact with the irritating substance. It typically develops within minutes to hours, and the symptoms may persist for up to four weeks.
An urticarial, or hive-like, rash can develop in response to the consumption of an allergen or certain medications, exercise, or sun exposure. Often, they do not have a known cause. Hives are raised, itchy, red welts that tend to come and go and typically respond to antihistamines.
Seborrheic dermatitis typically affects the scalp, causing dandruff, reddened skin, and scaly patches. It may also appear on the face, chest, and ears. Patients may feel itchy, and they might notice patches of skin with yellow or white scales. While the exact cause is unknown, it's thought to be linked to an abnormal immune system response or a fungus.
Viral or Bacterial Infections
Bacterial infections include impetigo and hot tub folliculitis, while viral infections include measles, shingles, and chickenpox. These infections can cause rashes that vary in appearance, including those that contain small, red bumps.
Systemic Disease-Associated Rashes
Many systemic diseases can cause a rash, such as the aforementioned chickenpox and measles. In addition, some sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, may cause skin changes, as well as autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. If your dermatologist suspects that your rash is caused by one of these serious diseases, you can expect to be referred to a doctor for comprehensive management of your condition.
Although people of any age may develop a heat rash, they are more common in infants. Heat rashes occur when the sweat ducts get clogged, resulting in small, itchy red bumps.
Stress can cause physical symptoms, including rashes. For example, you may break out into hives despite not coming into contact with a known allergen. In addition, stress can exacerbate other skin conditions that can cause a rash, such as eczema and psoriasis.
When to See a Dermatologist
Not all rashes will clear up with over-the-counter creams, and some rashes can be indicative of serious or even life-threatening medical conditions. Because of this, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek medical care if you’re concerned about changes in your health.
Go to the emergency room if you experience the following:
- A rash with a fever
- A sudden, rapidly spreading rash that is accompanied by breathing difficulties
- A rash with a stiff, painful neck
Schedule a visit at Dallas Dermatology Partners promptly if you experience any of the following issues:
- A rash that covers a significant part of your body
- A sudden, rapidly spreading rash
- A blistering rash or one that includes open sores
- A rash that affects the skin around your eyes, mouth, or genitals
- A painful rash
- A potentially infected rash
Even if your symptoms do not fall into the above categories, you should still see a doctor at Dallas Dermatology Partners if over-the-counter creams aren’t improving your symptoms, it shows no sign of improvement within 48 hours, or your symptoms are interfering with your life.
Diagnostic Methods for Skin Rashes
When you visit Dallas Dermatology Partners, your doctor will perform a thorough evaluation to accurately diagnose the type and cause of your rash. Expect to be asked questions such as:
• What symptoms are you experiencing?
• When did your symptoms begin?
• Are there any changes in your medical history or lifestyle?
• Have you traveled, tried new products, or been bitten?
A visual exam and review of your symptoms can often lead to an accurate diagnosis. However, in some cases, your dermatologist may need to conduct allergy testing, skin swabs, or a blood test. In addition, some patients may need a skin biopsy.
Skin Rash Biopsy
A skin biopsy is a diagnostic procedure that we can perform in our office. It involves taking a small sample of the affected skin and analyzing it under a microscope. There are various methods of conducting a skin biopsy to determine the cause of a rash, such as gently shaving away the outermost layers of the skin or using a skin punch tool to take out a sample of the deeper layers of the skin.
You'll receive a local anesthetic to eliminate discomfort during the skin rash biopsy. You may experience a minimal amount of bleeding and possibly tenderness. Be sure to follow all post-biopsy care instructions, and don't hesitate to call our office if you have follow-up questions.
A biopsy and other diagnostic tests will determine the cause of your skin condition. Your rash treatment will depend on the cause and type of rash. For example, rashes caused by bacterial infections can be resolved with antibiotics, while those caused by a virus may be treated with antiviral medications. Dermatologists recommend antihistamines and sometimes corticosteroids for rashes stemming from allergic reactions. If the rash was caused by exposure to an irritating substance, it’s recommended that you avoid contact with that substance.
Your dermatologist may also recommend a topical application to soothe the skin, such as Calamine or a prescription application. Patients can often find relief from itching and discomfort by applying cool compresses and taking baths with colloidal oatmeal. It can be helpful to keep the skin well-hydrated and to wear soft, loose clothing.
Schedule an appointment with a rash dermatologist
Although you can compare your symptoms to the types of rashes listed above, the most effective and accurate way to diagnose and treat your condition is to see a professional dermatologist. Dallas Dermatology Partners provides patient-focused care within a compassionate environment, with a strong priority on the health and safety of our patients. Schedule a Dallas dermatology appointment today in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.