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A rash is an area of irritated or swollen skin. Many rashes are itchy, red, painful, and irritated. Some rashes can also lead to blisters or patches of raw skin. Rashes are a symptom of many different medical problems. Other causes include irritating substances and allergies. Certain genes can make people more likely to get rashes.
Because rashes can be caused by many different things, it's important to figure out what kind you have before you treat it. If it is a bad rash, if it does not go away, or if you have other symptoms, you should see your health care provider. Treatments may include moisturizers, lotions, baths, cortisone creams that relieve swelling, and antihistamines, which relieve itching.
There are two main types of birthmarks: pigmented, spots of skin that contain extra pigment (color); and vascular, which contain extra blood vessels that didn't fully form. Both types are usually harmless, and some go away on their own. But some need to be watched to make sure they don't cause problems. Be sure to talk with your pediatrician about any birthmarks or rashes you notice on your baby.
To the untrained eye, all rashes may look alike and seem easily treatable with over-the-counter oral antihistamines or hydrocortisone cream. However, it is not always so simple, say dermatologists. Rashes can appear as blotches, welts, or blisters; they can be red, itchy, scaly, or dry; and they can occur in one area of skin or all over the body. In addition, some rashes may come and go, while others never seem to go away.
Although most rashes are not life-threatening, some rashes can signal something more serious. If you have a rash and notice any of the following symptoms, see a board-certified dermatologist or go to the emergency room immediately:
You have a fever with the rash. If this is the case, go to the emergency room. This could be caused by an allergic reaction or an infection. Examples of rashes caused by infection include scarlet fever, measles, mononucleosis, and shingles.
But some rashes, especially combined with a fever, can be signs of serious illnesses. Hives, also called urticaria (say: ur-tuh-KAR-ee-ah), also can be serious because they can be a sign of an allergic reaction and the person may need immediate medical attention.
Some rashes form right away and others can take several days to occur. When a rash appears, you usually know it because it will start to bother you. If you develop a rash, tell a parent or another adult as soon as you can. For instance, you might want to see the school nurse if you are at school.
A visit to the doctor is a good idea if you have a rash. Although all rashes may look alike to you, your doctor or a dermatologist (say: dur-muh-TOL-uh-jist), a skin doctor, knows the difference. And knowing which kind of rash you have can help the dermatologist choose the best treatment to heal your rash.
For rashes that are caused by an allergen, including hives, the doctor will probably want more information. He or she will want to find out which food, substance, medicine, or insect caused your rash or hives. The doctor might recommend a medical test to determine which allergens are causing you trouble. It's important to find this out because the best way to prevent rashes and hives caused by allergens is to avoid the problem food, substance, medicine, or bug.
Infections that involve bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites can also cause a rash. These rashes will vary depending on the type of infection. For instance, candidiasis, a common fungal infection, causes an itchy rash that generally appears in skin folds.
Other causes of rashes outdoors include hay fever (seasonal allergy) and exposure to poison ivy and other plants. If a person has a skin reaction to pollen, poison ivy, a jellyfish sting, brown-tail moth caterpillars, and other plants or animals, a doctor may refer to it as contact dermatitis.
Measles rashes: Measles is a representative infectious disease with a skin rash. The rash star