"Rash" or eruption is a general term for a wide variety of skin conditions. A rash refers to a change that affects the skin and usually appears as pink or reddish bumps or flat spots, scaly or flaky skin and/or blisters on the skin.

Common diseases and the associated rash:

  • Atopic Dermatitis (common eczema)- presents as itchy, dry, reddish/pink skin that is worse in cold, dry weather. This is common in children and often is associated with allergies and asthma.
  • Keratosis pilaris- Spiny bumps usually on the upper arms and thighs in patients prone to dry skin and eczema. This is common in children.
  • Folliculitis- Red bumps and pus-bumps at the base of hairs on the beard region, scalp,  thighs and buttocks and back and chest. Caused by bacteria, fungus or yeast in the hair follicle.
  • Impetigo- present as "honey-colored" crusting or scabbing on children and is due to infection with staph or strep bacteria
  • Contact Dermatitis- includes poison ivy reactions and allergies to jewelry. This often presents as either a red, dry, scaly rash at the site of contact with the offending substance/object or blisters in a shape or distribution that corresponds with contact with a substance or object
  • Psoriasis- pink thick plaques of skin with a white or silvery scale over the top. Occurs commonly in the scalp, on the elbows and knees, around the belly button and on the buttocks. Rarer forms display blisters, pustules and peeling of the palms and sores and changes in the finger and toe nails.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis- presents as "dandruff" in the scalp and/or pink, greasy, scaly skin on the eyebrows, mid face, ears and on the beard and chest in men.
  • Ringworm- Scaly rings with a central clearing
  • Shingles- Blisters or pink bumps and scabs on one side of the body (i.e. from the mid back down one arm) with associated burning, tingling or pain
  • Urticaria (hives)- discrete areas of thick skin (welts) that are pink or red and come and go within 24 hours
  • Drug rash- common drug rashes are "measles-like" and present as small red bumps and flat red spots and are often present on trunk and extremities
  • Stasis dermatitis- Browish/red spots on the lower legs and dry scaly skin in people with varicose veins and ankle swelling. This is due to poor blood return from the feet to the heart.
  • Bug bites- Itchy small blisters in the center of red/pink bumps on exposed skin

Although most rashes are not serious, some are evidence of a serious illness and need immediate attention.

The skin can display signs of a life-threatening drug reaction, Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, liver or kidney disease, blood vessel inflammation, dangerously high cholesterol, thyroid disease or multiple types of internal cancers.

If you experience a rash that does not go away on its own after several days, or one associated with other symptoms such as fever, please make an appointment to see your primary care providers or one of our dermatologists to have it properly diagnosed and treated.