Common Causes of Skin Rashes

Most of us have, at one time or another, experienced at least one skin rash. A skin rash is defined as any kind of irritation or eruption of the skin, and can have a number of causes. Rashes can be caused by external or internal factors, and depending upon what has triggered the rash, it can be difficult to treat. Some rashes are only temporary and will clear up on their own without treatment, others will respond to treatment quickly, while others may be of longstanding duration. All rashes have some qualities in common, however: redness, irritation, itchiness, bumps, a burning sensation, and scaling.

There are a number of conditions that can result in a skin rash. Some rashes are very localized, and can be found on a relatively restricted part of the face or body. However, some rashes can cover quite extensive areas of the body. Any rash that is accompanied by fever, spreads rapidly, or consists of blisters should be brought to the attention of your physician.

· Allergic reactions can cause rashes. These reactions can be brought on by an allergy to medication or to a certain food. If the reaction is not severe, and consists only of a slightly itchy rash, antihistamines will probably serve to correct it. Unfortunately, some rashes caused by allergy can be very serious, and if hives (pustular or not) are present, if the rash spreads very rapidly, or if breathing difficulties occur, a doctor must be seen at once. Anaphylactic allergic reactions can be life threatening.

·  Contact rashes occur when an irritating substance comes into contact with the skin. Not surprisingly, one of the most common contact rashes is caused by poison ivy. A rash from poison ivy is usually red, bumpy, and very itchy. Severe cases may form blisters, too. These rashes are called ‘contact dermatitis’ and besides poison ivy can be caused by your favorite soap or even by latex. 

·  Eczema is something of a blanket term that can cover a good many different kinds of rashes, including contact rashes mentioned above. Eczema can be found anywhere on the body, and is always characterized by itchy, red, sometimes weeping, skin. The causes of eczema can be something that had been consumed or something that caused a reaction from touching. In most cases, eczema is considered to be a temporary, or acute, condition.

· Psoriasis, on the other hand, is not a temporary condition, and can plague someone for their entire life. Unlike eczema or contact dermatitis, psoriasis is a chronic condition. The basic mechanism for psoriasis is that there are too many cells in one place. For unknown reasons, the body accelerates cell growth on the skin by something like ten times the normal cell growth rate. This results in raised skin areas covered with white scales of dead cells.

· Sunburn is another cause of rashes, often very painful ones. Sunburn damages both the epidermis and the dermis. The redness of the burn is the effect on the epidermis, while more sinister and longer lasting damage will be done to the dermis. Cellular changes to the DNA by UV radiation will not only cause redness, pain, itching, and blisters, but can also result in skin cancer, including dangerous melanoma. 

· Heat rash is not confined to babies and children, adults can suffer from it as well. During hot weather, especially hot, humid weather, the sweat glands can become temporarily blocked. The blockage of these sweat glands will result in a slight inflammation that will manifest itself as small, red dots. Heat rashes are itchy, but they are usually easy to treat as laving the rash with cool water and moving to an air-conditioned room will usually cure this kind of rash.

Is Acne Considered a Rash?

Although acne does present many of the same symptoms of a rash, it is not considered to be one. Acne is not caused by contact with some substance or an allergic reaction or heat, it is caused by an over-production of sebum by the sebaceous glands along with bacterial infection. Hormonal fluctuations, such as occur during puberty are often at the heart of any acne problem. 

Regardless of the active treatment program you may follow for your acne, there are always some things to keep in mind: stay out of the sun, wash your face only twice per day, use cleansers and moisturizers that suit your skin type, don’t use a harsh exfoliant, and eat well to provide your body with the fuel it needs to keep you healthy. 

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