What Does Your Skin Rash Look Like?

Author 07.17.15
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Skin rashes are incredibly common, but they can also be frustrating and agonizing. Skin rash symptoms can be caused by health issues ranging from psoriasis to mild allergies, and treatment options include over-the-counter medication, creams, dietary changes and more. Looking up skin rash pictures is one way to try to identify your skin rash; skin rash pictures also highlight the difference in symptoms between various types of skin conditions.

What Causes Skin Rashes?

The most important step toward clearing a skin rash is to understand the cause of your symptoms. Most skin rashes are caused by allergens that irritate the skin, causing what's known as contact dermatitis. Common allergens that cause skin rashes include pet dander, various foods, substances from plants and numerous chemicals. People with mild allergies can often get fast relief from washing their skin where rashes appear. However, many people need medications to relieve skin rash symptoms resulting from allergies. Over-the-counter medications can reduce the size of rashes and relieve accompanying symptoms, while prescription medication can provide additional relief for people with more severe contact dermatitis.

Of course, not all skin rashes are attributed to allergies. Some people suffer from chronic skin conditions, such as rosacea or psoriasis, which cause unsightly rashes to appear periodically over many years. Viral infections can also cause skin rashes. The herpes zoster virus, which is responsible for causing chicken pox during childhood, can reappear later in the form of shingles - a similar rash accompanied by pain, burning and flu-like symptoms. Fungal and bacterial infections can also cause large rashes in various parts of the body, and various other health conditions may also result in skin rash symptoms. Getting rid of skin rashes requires identifying and treating these underlying root causes.

Skin Rash Symptoms

If you've ever looked at skin rash pictures, then you know how varied the signs and symptoms of skin rashes can be. Even within specific health conditions, skin rash symptoms can vary greatly. For example, plaque psoriasis is characterized by whitish, silvery skin scales that build up on the skin, while pustular psoriasis is defined by clusters of blisters on various regions of the body. Even people with allergic reaction may develop different rash symptoms. Is your skin rash raised, red or swollen? Is your rash on just one part of the body, or do you seem to have rashes breaking out all over? Is your skin dry and cracking, or is it covered in oozing blisters? Does your rash itch, or is it burning or painful? That's why skin rashes are so burdensome; there's no one-size-fits-all treatment that covers the many causes of rash symptoms.

In addition to the visible skin rash symptoms, there are other symptoms that may also accompany a skin rash. People who develop shingles also experience flu-like symptoms such as nausea, fevers and headaches. Psoriasis can be accompanied by joint pain and stiffness, sometimes leading to the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. Skin rashes caused by allergic reactions may be accompanied by stomach sickness, headaches, sinus problems, dizziness and several other symptoms. The symptoms of skin rashes may develop over a few days, while other health conditions cause rashes to appear over the course of a week or two. On the other end of the spectrum, some skin rashes can grow very large within just a few hours. See a doctor immediately if you have a skin rash that's growing at a rapid pace.

After evaluating your symptoms, your doctor may administer several tests to diagnose the cause of your skin rash. Skin samples and blood tests may be needed. Your doctor will also ask questions about your family medical history to look for clues about the cause of your condition. Many health problems are hereditary. Psoriasis, shingles and allergies are all more common in people who have family members that share those conditions.

Skin Rash Treatments

Given enough time, most skin rashes fade on their own. However, serious skin rashes may require medical treatment to avoid lasting skin damage, and other types of skin conditions require ongoing treatments to prevent rashes from reoccurring later. Knowing how to treat a skin rash means understanding what's causing the rash. Once the underlying problem is diagnosed, then skin rash treatment becomes much more doable.

Most skin rashes can be at least partially treated with the use of topical creams or ointments. These creams help to moisturize the skin to reduce itching and prevent cracking, and they can also keep the skin clean and sanitary to help prevent infections. Light therapy is also used to treat skin conditions ranging from psoriasis to severe acne. Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, can reduce the size of some rashes while also limiting and reversing skin damage. Doctors may also prescribe oral or injected medications to help people find relief from skin conditions. Anti-viral medications can help limit the duration of a shingles rash, and immune system suppressants can quell severe outbreaks of psoriasis. Medication can also help put an end to severe allergic reactions that can leave the body covered in hives, blisters and other forms of skin rashes.

When to See a Doctor

It's never a bad idea to see a doctor when dealing with a skin rash. However, there are times when seeing a doctor shouldn't even be in question. Seek professional care if you have a rash that's spreading rapidly, or if you experience symptoms such as joint pain, fever, breathlessness, severe headaches or swelling of the tongue or throat. A rapidly swelling rash accompanied by these symptoms could be the onset of a life-threatening allergic reaction. Call your doctor immediately if your experience a rash after taking medication or being bitten or stung by an animal or insect. Also see a doctor if you have known food allergies and suddenly break out in a rash after eating; you may have inadvertently consumed a trace amount of whatever you should be avoiding.

Most skin rashes aren't cause for concern, but they should never be taken for granted. Giving your skin rash the attention it deserves can help to reduce unsightly symptoms while preventing further outbreaks from occurring. Talk to your doctor to learn more about how you can relieve and manage your skin rash symptoms.

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