What Is a Skin Rash?
Dermatologists and Skin Care Data Verified

Skin Rash- An Upsetting Itch

Published on Nov 24, 2022 and last reviewed on Nov 25, 2022   -  4 min read


Skin rashes are something that most people experience at least once in their lives. This article explains when to worry about these rashes in adults.

What Is a Skin Rash?

A skin rash is a medical term that describes skin irritation, discoloration, or an abnormal change in skin texture. Skin rashes can range from mild to severe. They can occur on the skin of any part of the body. They are often red, itchy, dry, and swollen. In addition, they may appear raised, blistered, bumpy, or patchy. Rashes can look different on different skin tones. While in light-skinned people, rashes can present as pink, red, or purple, people with darker skin may have white, gray, or darker rashes than the surrounding skin.

What Causes Skin Rashes?

Several factors can cause rashes, including:

What Are the Common Types of Skin Rashes?

The most common rashes in adults include:

  • Hives: Hives are an abnormal immune response that causes raised, red, itchy welts. These rashes result from an allergic reaction to certain medications, foods, or beverages.

  • Shingles: They are a painful, itchy, blistering rash caused by the reaction of the chickenpox virus. People who have had chickenpox are at particular risk of developing shingles.

  • Chronic Rashes: Skin conditions like atopic dermatitis or psoriasis can cause chronic rashes that can even flare when triggered.

  • Chickenpox: It is a highly contagious viral infection characterized by an itchy, fluid-filled blistering rash on the chest, back, and face, which can spread over the entire body.

  • Diaper Rash: A diaper rash commonly seen in babies clinically manifests as bright red skin on the buttocks.

  • Drug Allergy: An abnormal immune reaction to a drug that causes pink to red bumps, hives, blisters, red patches, or fluid-filled bumps (pustules).

  • Erythema Multiforme: A skin reaction triggered by a medication or infections that leads to bullseye-shaped lesions.

  • Heat Rash: Often called prickly heat, these rashes are caused by the blockage of sweat glands. Heat rash may look like tiny red bumps resembling pimples or blisters.

  • Herpes: Herpes is a viral skin infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) characterized by blistering rash and skin ulcer.

  • Impetigo: Impetigo is a common bacterial skin infection that causes red sores on the face, hands, and feet.

  • Insect Bites: Insect bites often appear as itchy, round, red, or pink-colored skin bumps.

  • Measles: A highly contagious viral infection often causes a small raised rash on the face, neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet.

  • Ringworm: A common fungal skin infection that causes a red, itchy, and circular rash.

  • Rosacea: An inflammatory skin condition that causes blushing or flushing on the face. The rashes usually look like small, red, pus-filled bumps on the face.

  • Seborrheic Dermatitis: A common and noncontagious skin disorder of the scalp typically causes dryness and dandruff.

When to Seek Medical Treatment for Rashes?

While most rashes are not life-threatening, some can signify something more serious. If a person has a rash and notices any following symptoms, keep an eye on the rashes and seek medical assistance immediately.

  • Fever With Rash: A fever can be caused by an allergic reaction or an infection, such as herpes, measles, scarlet fever, mononucleosis, and shingles. Fever is a pivotal sign. A doctor should check that rash.

  • If the Rash Spreads Rapidly: A sudden rash spreading quickly over the body indicates it is time to seek medical treatment. An allergic reaction to medications or infection can cause these rashes. In addition, difficulty breathing can happen, requiring urgent medical care.

  • If the Rash Is Painful: A painful rash should be assessed by a medical professional. It can be infected or signify conditions such as shingles. Keep an eye on a rash that may not be painful but tenderly pressing as it can indicate infection, which should be checked out.

  • If the Rash Appears Suddenly: A rash that appears suddenly can be an allergic reaction to a medication. A rash can sometimes develop in the first few weeks after starting a new drug. Speak to a medical provider about this side effect as soon as possible.

  • If the Rash Blisters: Blistering of the rashes can result from an allergic reaction to a medication or an autoimmune condition such as pemphigus vulgaris. Seek medical treatment if a blistering rash involves the skin around the eyes, mouth, or genitals.

  • If the Rash Is Infected: It may become infected when scratching an itchy rash. Signs of an infected rash are yellow or green fluid, swelling, crusting, pain, and warmth in the area of the rash. Rashes typically damage the surface of the skin. This can render the skin more susceptible to infections, especially if the rashes areas are scratched. An infected rash should be evaluated by a medical professional. An infected rash area may have pain, warmth, swelling, crusting over of rash bumps, red streak coming from the rash, yellow discharge, green discharge, and

  • If Having Difficulty Breathing: A rash with difficulty breathing can indicate a severe allergic reaction to food or drinks. This is a medical emergency that should be addressed on time.

How Are Skin Rashes Treated?

Rashes can be treated easily with over-the-counter creams and oral antihistamines, but more severe rashes require prescription treatments. Rashes can appear in many forms and take a few days to heal. However, rashes with severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, fever, and infection, need urgent medical attention for the proper diagnosis and treatment plan.


While most rashes can clear within days and weeks, some can signify something more serious. Medical professionals should see rashes caused by allergic reactions, infections, and autoimmune conditions. Rashes with severe symptoms, including difficulty breathing, fever, or infection, are medical emergencies. If a person has a rash and notices symptoms, speak to a medical professional to get a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Type of Rashes Cause Intense Itching?

Skin conditions that cause intense itching are listed below:
- Psoriasis.
- Hives.
- Neurodermatitis.
- Chickenpox.
- Folliculitis.
- Dyshidrotic eczema.
- Hand, foot, and mouth disease.


What Could Be the Reason for Weird Rash?

The main reason for developing dermatitis is when the skin reacts to irritants or allergens, such as viruses, bacteria, allergens and the conditions such as hives, psoriasis, and eczema, which can be a source of these rashes.


When Should One Worry About an Itchy Rash?

The health care provider should quickly evaluate the painful rashes. Itchy rash may get infected if scratched. Some signs of an infected rash are green or yellow fluid, crusting pain, and warmth in the area of the rash.


What Cancers Cause Itchy Rashes?

The most common form of blood cancer is mycosis fungoides which causes lesions that appear as itchy rashes and are scaly.


How to Calm an Itchy Rashes?

Applying ice packs or a wet cloth at the site of itchy skin for about five to ten minutes may help calm the itchy rashes. Using a moisturizer, oatmeal bath, topical anesthetic, menthol, or calamine may also help reduce the itch when applied to affected areas of the skin.


How Does the Stress Rash Appear?

Stress rashes may appear as raised skin bumps from the skin also called hives. It can affect any area of the body. The hives may range from tiny dots, also forming clusters.


What Is the Treatment for Skin Irritation?

Gels, lotions, or creams can help soothe and cool the skin. Corticosteroid cream may help bring relief from itchy, inflamed skin. One can apply moisturizer over the skin if suffering from skin irritation.


How Does Skin Irritation Appear?

Skin bumps or rashes appear as sores or pimples on the skin, which appear as scaly, red, itchy, or burning skin. Allergens, heat, and certain medications may cause skin reactions.


Is This Skin Irritation or Allergy?

There are various types of skin allergy reactions. Among them, hives are also the ones which are also called urticaria. Irritant reactions occur after a single exposure or after repeated exposures. It may take multiple exposures to develop an allergy in the case of an allergy.


How Can One Calm Irritated Sensitive Skin?

One can calm irritated and sensitive skin by using water, fresh fruit juices, and herbal teas. One can soothe with mist using a calming moisturizer, going green, and gently cleansing and exfoliating.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
25 Nov 2022  -  4 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

Actinic Keratosis - Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment

Article Overview: Actinic keratosis is a skin disorder where a coarse, scaly patch appears on the scalp, face, ear, lip, neck, forearm, and back of the hand when continuously exposed to the sun. Read Article

Dhepe Snehal Madhav
Dhepe Snehal Madhav

Introduction: Actinic keratosis is also known as solar keratosis is a slow-growing skin lesion that is irregular and scaly skin patches commonly affecting people over 40 years. Minimizing sun exposure and protecting the skin from UV (ultraviolet) rays reduces the risk of actinic keratosis. When left...  Read Article

Why do I get circular shiny patch on chest, back and scalp?

Query: Hello doctor, I am a 32-year-old male. I have small skin rash with shiny patches in a circle in the chest and on the back, once found on the scalp too. It itches when I sweat. I also have dandruff on the head and ear itching too it is dry and no ear wax produced. For skin, I have tried Surfaz SN and...  Read Full »

Why are there itchy skin rashes in a child?

Query: Hello doctor,My daughter has just started kindergarten three weeks ago and came home today with a rash all over her arms, hands, and feet and one by her lip. She feels fine otherwise but they itch sometimes. Our 7-year-old neighbor just got over strep and impetigo and I am wondering if this could be...  Read Full »

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Skin Disorder or Skin Rash?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.