Common Skin Rashes

The word “rash” does not have an exact meaning and does not refer to any specific kind of disease.  However, it is commonly understood as an abnormal change of skin color or texture.  In generic sense, it is the outbreak of bumps on the body that changes the look of the skin.  Rash can occur in a single location or can spread throughout the body.  A rash can include scaly patches observed on the skin without any infection or with bacterial or fungal infection.  Sometimes rash may also be referred to the red itchy patches all over the body. As rashes can cause dangerous conditions, it is always advisable to consult a doctor in doubtful cases.  

Scaly itchy patches on the skin without infection refer to a condition called eczema.  Atopic dermatitis is the most common condition of eczema.  This condition is a hereditary problem observed since childhood as scaly patches on the scalp, legs, arms and torso.  Doctors refer eczema as an allergic skin going by the definition of the words.  Eczema follows its own schedule of appearing and disappearing, not allowing the usual flare-ups like soaps, food, etc. to blame.  This condition becomes worse during winter when the air is cold and dry leaving the skin irritated.  Although the skin appears to be dry on the outside, irritation arises out of the inflammation and hence moisturizers would not be of great help in such cases.  Antibiotics are not helpful in treating eczema.
 
Contact dermatitis is another condition where the rash is developed on contact with certain allergic substances to the skin like poison ivy or reactions to the costume jewellery containing nickel. Barring a few cases, contact dermatitis unlike atopic dermatitis does not spread to all parts of the body.  
 
Other types of scaly rashes that are worth mentioning are psoriasis, pityriasis rosea and xerosis.  Psoriasis is a condition that affects the knees and elbows. Pityriasis rosea is a condition that affects teens and young adults forming scaly patches on the chest and back.  Xerosis is a condition that generates a very dry skin and worsening to a rash during the cold months of the year.
 
Other category of skin rashes is that caused by bacterial or fungal infection.  It is not uncommon for non-dermatologists or patients to misidentify a common dry scaly rash as a fungal or bacterial infection on the skin.  Hence it is always better to get your skin condition diagnosed by a dermatologist. In some cases, yeasts can also called skin rashes which tend to appear on the folds of the skin like areas under the breasts or groin.  The belief that fungal or yeast infections are transmitted from unclean people or environments like gym, swimming pools, locker rooms, etc. is contrary to the way they affect people.  These infections are normally not contagious. 
 
Red, itchy patches all over the body are the third category of the skin rashes.  The primary causes can be attributed to any viral infection or any allergy to a specific drug.  Rashes due to viral infection appear symmetric all over the body and get cured over a period of time upon treating.
 
Hives or urticaria falls under the rash family.  Hives form a red itchy skin. Its disappearance is as mystic as its appearance.



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