Although they may cause discomfort or look unsightly, most rashes are not dangerous, and will go away on their own. Even if there is an underlying condition causing the rash, in many cases it can be resolved with treatments available over-the-counter at the chemists, but if a rash persists longer than a few days; worsens; or appears without explanation, it should be assessed by a doctor.
Rashes are quite common both in adults and in children. Over the course of our lives, almost everyone will experience a rash in some form or another, and it is possible for one person to have rashes that appear differently, especially if the cause of the rash is different.
Common types of rash include eczema, hives (otherwise known as urticaria), and even fungal skin infections, such as athlete’s foot.
It’s also possible to develop a rash as a result of a bacterial infection, like folliculitis or impetigo; from a parasite, like scabies; or when someone is exposed to a virus, like in viral exanthems.
Depending on what’s causing the rash, environmental factors may play a role in triggering or exacerbating the condition – for example, during the winter months, when the heating is on, the skin becomes drier, and this can affect eczema. Similarly, fungal skin infections like athlete’s foot thrive in warm, damp conditions, such as inside tight or sweaty shoes and socks. In babies, and in some adults, diaper rash is a common form of dermatitis that can be caused by chafing, or by prolonged exposure to dampness on sensitive skin.
SYMPTOMS OF RASHES
The term “rash” is used to refer to a wide variety of inflamed skin eruptions, which are also discoloured – commonly they are reddish in hue, but they can be differently coloured depending on the individual’s skin tone and/or the condition causing the rash.
Where the rash appears on the body can also help to diagnose its cause, since many skin conditions typically appear in certain areas and not others.
While the presentation of some rashes may be very dramatic – for example, when the skin erupts in ulcers, scaling, or scabbing – these symptoms may or may not be helpful in generating an accurate diagnosis without the help of a medical expert. However, noting such presentations (as well as their durations, and any suspected triggers) will be beneficial information to share with your doctor, especially if the symptoms appear to come and go.
An accurate diagnosis of a persistent skin rash will often require a doctor or other medical expert, and in some cases, specific tests may be needed to identify the cause of a particular rash.
Typically, rashes are described using adjectives such as "circular," "ring-shaped," "linear," or "snake-like," which help in identifying the cause.
Additionally, doctors will note other characteristics, such as;
CAUSES OF RASHES
The cause of any rash directly correlates to the condition, and can be as a result of environmental factors; the skin’s contact with an allergen or irritant; or caused by infection - either fungal, parasitic, bacterial or viral.
Some drugs, like antibiotics, may also cause a patient to develop a rash – it is essential to read through drug safety leaflets to understand whether such side effects are common, whether they warrant reporting to the doctor, or even mean that the patient needs to seek emergency medical attention.