Rash: Types with Symptoms,Causes, Treatment and Prevention

A rash is a sort of inflammation which will have noticeable change in the texture or color of your skin.

Updated: November 4, 2019

A rash is a sort of inflammation which will have noticeable change in the texture or color of your skin. Your skin may become scaly, bumpy, itchy, or otherwise irritated.
Common rashes include eczema, poison ivy, hives, and athlete's foot. Rashes can be caused by infection such as fungal, bacterial, parasitic, or viral. Over-the-counter products can be used as first line of treatments for many skin rashes. But rashes lasting more than a few days that are unexplained should be evaluated by a doctor.

Types of Rashes with Symptoms:

There are many different type of rashes with different sign and symptoms. Some of these are listed below:


  • Chronic skin disease that goes through cycles of fading and relapse
  • Relapses may be triggered by spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, sunlight, stress, and the intestinal bacteria Helicobacter pylori
  • There are four subtypes of rosacea having a wide variety of symptoms
  • Common symptoms include facial flushing, raised, red bumps, facial redness, skin dryness, and skin sensitivity

Flea bites:

  • Usually located in clusters on the lower legs and feet
  • Itchy, red bump surrounded by a red halo
  • Symptoms begin immediately after being bitten

Fifth disease:

  • Headache, fatigue, low fever, sore throat, runny nose, diarrhea, and nausea
  • Children are more likely to get this rash than adults
  • Round, bright red rash on the cheeks
  • Lacy-patterned rash on the arms, legs, and upper body that might be more visible after a hot shower or bath


  • Common in babies and children
  • Rash is often located in the area around the mouth, chin, and nose
  • Irritating rash and fluid-filled blisters that pop easily and form a honey-colored crust


  • Circular-shaped scaly rashes with raised border
  • Skin in the middle of the ring appears clear and healthy, and the edges of the ring may spread outward
  • Itchy

Contact dermatitis:

  • Appears hours to days after contact with an allergen
  • Rash has visible borders and appears where your skin touched the irritating substance
  • Skin is itchy, red, scaly, or raw
  • Blisters that weep, ooze, or become crusty

Hand, foot, and mouth disease:

  • Usually affects children under age 5
  • Painful, red blisters in the mouth and on the tongue and gums
  • Flat or raised red spots located on the palms of the hand and soles of the feet
  • Spots may also appear on the buttocks or genital area

Diaper rash:

This is a common type of irritant contact dermatitis that occurs when feces and urine are in contact with skin for too long in most infants and some adults who wear diapers.

  • Rash located on areas that have contact with a diaper
  • Skin looks red, wet, and irritated
  • Warm to the touch

Eczema or Atopic dermatitis:

It is commonly found in patients who also have asthma and hay fever.

  • Yellow or white scaly patches that flake off
  • Affected areas may be red, itchy, greasy, or oily
  • Hair loss may occur in the area with the rash


  • Scaly, silvery, sharply defined skin patches
  • Commonly located on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back
  • May be itchy or asymptomatic


Clusters of itchy, red, fluid-filled blisters in various stages of healing all over the body
Rash is accompanied by fever, body aches, sore throat, and loss of appetite
Remains contagious until all blisters have crusted over

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE):

  • An autoimmune disease that affect many different body systems and organs with a wide variety of symptoms ranging from rashes to ulcers
  • Classic butterfly-shaped face rash that crosses from cheek to cheek over the nose
  • Rashes may appear or get worse with sun exposure


  • Very painful rash that may burn, tingle, or itch, even if there are no blisters present
  • Rash comprising clusters of fluid-filled blisters that break easily and weep fluid
  • Rash emerges in a linear stripe pattern that appears most commonly on the torso, but may occur on other parts of the body, including the face
  • Rash may be accompanied by low fever, chills, headache, or fatigue


  • Red itchy bumps that comes on in a sudden fashion and then resolve in about eight hours.
  • They tend to recur frequently.
  • If hives are caused by a drug, that drug should be avoided in the future.


This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

  • Caused by bacteria or fungi entering through a crack or cut in the skin
  • Red, painful, swollen skin with or without oozing that spreads quickly
  • Hot and tender to the touch
  • Fever, chills, and red streaking from the rash might be a sign of serious infection requiring medical attention

Drug allergy:

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

  • Mild, itchy, red rash may occur days to weeks after taking a drug
  • Severe drug allergies can be life-threatening and symptoms include hives, racing heart, swelling, itching, and difficulty breathing
  • Other symptoms include fever, stomach upset, and tiny purple or red dots on the skin


Scabies is produced by a small mite which lives in the superficial layers of human skin. The rashes occurs when it get contracted by contact with another infected individual and the host becomes allergic to it.

  • Symptoms may take four to six weeks to appear
  • Extremely itchy rash may be pimply, made up of tiny blisters, or scaly
  • Raised, white or flesh-toned lines


  • Symptoms include fever, sore throat, red, watery eyes, loss of appetite, cough, and runny nose
  • Red rash spreads from the face down the body three to five days after first symptoms appear
  • Tiny red spots with blue-white centers appear inside the mouth

Miliaria or Heat rash:

This skin rashes is caused by the occlusion of sweat ducts during hot, humid weather.

  • It can occur at any age but is most common in infants who are kept too warm.
  • Heat rash looks like a red cluster of acne or small blisters.
  • It is more likely to occur on the neck and upper chest, in the groin, under the breasts, and in elbow creases.

Tick bite:

  • Pain or swelling at the bite area
  • Rash, burning sensation, blisters, or difficulty breathing
  • The tick often remains attached to the skin for a long time
  • Bites rarely appear in groups

Seborrheic eczema:

Yellow or white scaly patches that flake off
Affected areas may be red, itchy, greasy, or oily
Hair loss may occur in the area with the rash

Scarlet fever:

Occurs at the same time as or right after a strep throat infection
Red skin rash all over the body (but not the hands and feet)
Rash is made up of tiny bumps that make it feel like “sandpaper”
Bright red tongue

Kawasaki disease:

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.
Usually affects children under age 5
Red, swollen tongue (strawberry tongue), high fever, swollen, red palms and soles of the feet, swollen lymph nodes, bloodshot eyes
Usually gets better on its own, but may cause severe heart problems

Causes of Rashes:

One of the most common causes of rashes is contact dermatitis. When the skin comes in contact with a foreign substance direct that causes an adverse reaction, this type of rash can occur. The resulting rash may be itchy, red, or inflamed. Possible causes of contact dermatitis include:

  • using beauty products, soaps, and laundry detergent
  • using dyes in clothing
  • costume jewelry containing nickel
  • being in contact with chemicals in rubber, elastic, or latex
  • touching poisonous plants, such as poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac

Taking medications may also cause rashes which can form as a result of either an allergic reaction to the medication or a side effect of the medication. Photosensitivity to the medication can also cause rashes.

Treatment for a Rash:

As most of the rashes last a while and get better on their own, treatment of symptoms like itchy and/or dry skin is often not required. You can watch them for a few days to see whether the condition gets milder and goes away. Most rashes are not dangerous and can be taken care at home.
To help ease discomfort and speed up the healing process, you can try the following things:

  • Use warm water instead of hot water for washing your skin and hair.
  • Use mild, gentle cleansers instead of scented bar soaps.
  • Avoid scratching the rash because doing so can make it worse and could lead to infection.
  • Pat the rash dry instead of rubbing it.
  • Avoid covering it with clothing if possible. Allow it to breathe.
  • Stop using new cosmetics or lotions because they may have triggered the rash.
  • Apply unscented moisturizing lotion to areas affected by eczema.
  • Wash your hair and scalp regularly with dandruff shampoo if you have dandruff along with a rash. Medicated dandruff shampoo is commonly available at drugstores. Consult your doctor for a stronger types if you need them.
  • Apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to the affected area if the rash is very itchy and causing discomfort. Calamine lotion can also help relieve rashes from chickenpox, poison ivy, or poison oak.
  • Take an oatmeal bath. This can soothe the itchiness associated with rashes from eczema or psoriasis.

Over-the-counter medications:

  • Anti-itch creams containing 1% of hydrocortisone can be effective for relieving itching
  • Oral antihistamines like diphenhydramine and hydroxyzine can be helpful in controlling the itching.
  • Moisturizing lotions
  • Fungal infections are best treated with topical antifungal medications that contain clotrimazole, miconazole, or terbinafine.
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used in moderation for mild pain associated with the rash. But you may not be able to take them if you have liver or kidney disease or a history of stomach ulcers.

Consult your doctor before you start taking these drugs, and avoid taking them for an extended period because they of potential side effects. If the above things does not help and the rash persists or becomes more widespread, a consultation with a general physician or dermatologist is advisable.


Smallpox vaccine can be given as a prevention for some rashes. As patients with atopic dermatitis are more susceptible to having the virus spread on their skin, which can lead to a serious, even life-threatening condition called eczema vaccinatum, they should not be vaccinated against smallpox.
Visit your doctor immediately if you experience a rash along with any of the following symptoms:

  • increasing pain or discoloration in the rash area
  • fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
  • tightness or itchiness in the throat
  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling of the face or extremities
  • severe head or neck pain
  • repeated vomiting or diarrhea
  • confusion
  • dizziness

Also contact your doctor if you have a rash as well as other systemic symptoms including:

  • a fever slightly above 100.4°F (38°C)
  • joint pain
  • a sore throat
  • red streaks or tender areas near the rash
  • a recent tick bite or animal bite

Prevention of Rashes:

It can be prevented if the cause of a particular rash is known. For example, a measles vaccination can benefit in preventing the rash of measles, as well more serious consequences of measles infections.

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