Skin Rashes

How to identify, treat and prevent skin irritations

A skin rash is anything that changes the color and texture of your skin.

Common rashes and identifying characteristics include:

  • Impetigo, a common rash in children, has red sores that turn into blisters, ooze and then crust over.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis appears as patches of redness and scaling around the eyebrows, eyelids, mouth, nose, torso and behind the ears. When it occurs on your scalp it's called dandruff, and in infants it's called cradle cap.
  • Eczema is identified by red, itchy, and scaly skin.
  • Psoriasis appears as red, scaly, itchy patches over joints and along the scalp.
  • Shingles are painful blistered skin, and are caused by the same virus as chicken pox. It may lie dormant for many years then re-emerge as shingles.
  • Poison ivy, oak and sumac will leave streaks that are itchy, red and scaly where the plants brushes the skin.

Childhood illnesses that cause rashes (see a doctor if you suspect any of these to be the cause of your child's rash):

  • Chicken pox appears in batches that look like little pimples. It usually starts on the trunk and then spreads to the head, face, arms and legs. Although some people may have only a few blisters, you could see about 100 to 300. The pimples will progress to red teardrop blisters. The blisters mature, break open, form a sore and then crust over.
  • Measles usually start on the head. Over the next three days, the rash spreads to cover the entire body. Initially, measles are small red bumps that may blend into each other as more appear.
  • Fifth disease has a characteristic facial rash that develops abruptly. Typically the facial rash is bright red. The child looks as if a hand has slapped across his or her face. This fades in four days. Then a light pink rash begins on the arms and spreads to the trunk, buttocks and thighs. This gradually fades to a lace-like pattern and then clears.

Be gentle when caring for rashes and avoid further irritation of the skin. That means:

  • Do not scrub
  • Gentle mild cleansers
  • No cosmetics on the rash
  • Pat dry, don't rub
  • Quit using any new skin products
  • Leave the rash exposed to the air as much as possible
  • Hydrocortisone cream and oatmeal bath products will help with the symptoms
  • Get emergency help if you are short of breath, your throat becomes tight, your face becomes swollen or if your child has a purple rash that looks like a bruise. Go to your health care provider if you start to have joint pain, fever, sore throat or if home treatment doesn't work. Stay aware of your allergies and avoid the triggers - this will help prevent most rashes. Also keep your skin moisturized and use gentle soaps and detergents to keep most rashes at bay. Good hygiene is the key to good skin.

    By Kris Moore