Skin rashes can be red, inflamed, bumpy as well as dry, itchy or painful. The main cause is dermatitis, which is when your skin reacts to allergens or irritants. Bacteria, viruses, allergens and conditions including eczema, hives, and psoriasis can be the source of skin rashes. A variety of treatments can relieve your symptoms and get rid of the rash.
A skin rash occurs when skin becomes red, inflamed and bumpy. Some skin rashes are dry and itchy. Some are painful. Many things can bring on a skin rash, including viruses, bacteria, allergens and skin conditions like eczema.
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Almost everyone develops at least one skin rash during their lifetime. It’s extremely common to sometimes feel itchy or have red, bumpy skin for a little while.
Everyone — from infants to senior citizens — can get skin rashes. Infants are prone to diaper rash and cradle cap. Children are prone to atopic dermatitis and catch rash-inducing viruses, such as fifth disease. And older kids or adults can develop contact dermatitis as skin becomes sensitive to allergens or irritants over time.
There are many different types of skin rashes, including:
Many things can cause skin rashes, including:
Skin rash symptoms vary depending on the type and cause. Rashes can develop in one area of the body or all over. A skin rash may be:
Because so many things can cause a skin rash, diagnosis can be tricky. Your healthcare provider will examine the rash, assess your symptoms and take a medical history. You may undergo tests, such as:
Treatment for skin rashes depends on the cause. It can take several weeks for the rash to go away. Skin rash treatments include:
They’re bothersome and unsightly, but skin rashes usually respond well to treatment. They rarely cause serious problems. Potential issues include:
You might lower your chances of developing a skin rash if you:
Depending on the cause, some skin rashes go away with treatment. Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis cause chronic, recurring skin rashes that need ongoing care. Treatments can soothe pain, inflammation and itching.
You should call your healthcare provider immediately and seek emergency care if the skin rash:
If you have a skin rash, talk to your healthcare provider. You may want to ask:
How much a skin rash affects your life depends largely on what’s causing it. It’s hard to avoid viruses and bacteria, but you can avoid allergens and irritants that you know bother you. Whatever the cause, most rashes are annoying but treatable.
Some skin conditions, like psoriasis, are lifelong and need more care. Your healthcare provider can identify what’s causing the skin rash. Talk to your provider about how to minimize exposure to rash-causing triggers. Your provider can customize a treatment plan to address your specific symptoms and rash type.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/23/2020.
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