Skin rashes are an annoying problem. Not only are skin outbreaks not pretty to look at, they can be intensely itchy in some cases, and repeatedly scratching them only makes the problem worse. Fortunately, there are treatments to help reduce the itching and treat the underlying problem that’s causing the rash so you can get some relief.
What Causes Them?
Skin rashes have a wide variety of causes. Rash is just a general term for anything that causes inflammation of the skin. Doctors can sometimes look at the features of an outbreak, such as its size, color, shape and distribution to determine what’s causing it. Some common skin conditions that cause a rash to form include eczema, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis. All of these conditions can cause irritated, itchy skin as well.
Other conditions that can cause a skin outbreak are viral, bacterial and fungal infections as well as allergic reactions to topical products such as cosmetics. In fact, any type of allergic reaction, including allergic reactions to foods and medications can cause a rash. Usually an allergic reaction to a food or medication will cause a reaction that involves large areas of the body, whereas a rash from a skin condition like eczema or a contact dermatitis typically involves only isolated parts of the body.
Obviously, there are a variety of causes of skin rashes, and sometimes you need a doctor or dermatologist to make the diagnosis. Occasionally, a rash can be a sign of a serious underlying health problem, so it’s important to find out what’s causing it. Skin outbreaks associated with fever, chills, headache or vomiting need immediate attention.
How a skin outbreak is treated depends upon its cause. If it’s due to a run-in with poison ivy, an allergic reaction to a cosmetic or an itchy outbreak due to a viral illness, it may only be necessary to treat the itching. A cream that contains hydrocortisone can help reduce inflammation and ease the itching.
Products that contain camphor and menthol also offer an effective treatment option for itching. These products are proven effective at relieving itching and skin irritation. They work by stimulating nerve endings on the skin. This causes a mild irritation that masks the itch. This product also has emollient properties, which makes it good for dry, itchy winter skin.
In the case of severe itching, oral antihistamines, available at drugstores, can suppress itching, although some of them will make you feel drowsy. They’re a good option when severe itching keeps you awake at night. Never use them during the day if you need to remain alert.
Itching can also be relieved by taking an oatmeal bath. You can make one of these by adding a cup of uncooked oatmeal to warm bathwater and soaking in it. Then apply a cream that contains 1% hydrocortisone.
For skin rashes caused by skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and various forms of dermatitis, there are specific treatment options available over the counter. With all types of rashes, it’s important to avoid the urge to scratch since this will increase the irritation and further provoke itching.
The Bottom Line?
Skin rashes are common, and they’re frequently quite itchy. Take steps to relieve the itching but resist the urge to scratch as it will only make things worse.