Rashes come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and can affect people at all stages of life. From cradle cap and diaper rash in infants to vasculitis and poison ivy in adults, most people deal with a variety of rashes throughout their life. They are painful, itchy, and look terrible, but most rashes are more uncomfortable than they are dangerous. In some cases, however, a rash can be a sign that something more serious is going on with your body.
To the average person, all rashes might look the same, but they actually have unique characteristics that help doctors diagnose the problem. Rashes are common and treatable, many responding well to simple over-the-counter medications. But they aren’t a diagnosis. Instead, they are a symptom that affects the skin, caused by one of a variety of factors. Let’s take a closer look at these common skin irritations. We’ll explore the different types of rashes in babies, children, and adults and go over the telltale signs that it’s time to get that rash checked out by a medical professional.
What Is a Rash?
A skin rash isn’t an actual diagnosis. Instead, a rash refers to an inflammation and discoloration of the skin that causes uncomfortable symptoms. Your skin is the largest organ of your body. That’s why it’s no wonder your skin can get irritated, inflamed, or affected by a variety of external factors from time to time. Some stages of life will leave you more susceptible to rashes, such as infancy and childhood. Likewise, some people will be at higher risk of developing a skin rash due to sensitive skin.
Regardless of why you’ve contracted a skin rash, chances are they seem to have come out of nowhere. Because there are so many types of skin rashes, it can be challenging to pinpoint the exact cause of your outbreak. They can develop because of allergies, viral or fungal infections, or medical conditions. It’s easy to drive yourself crazy over a rash. But chances are they are more annoying than they are dangerous. While most rashes are easily treatable, it can be difficult to determine the right treatment option when you don’t know the cause. Besides signs of a more severe condition, this might be another reason to seek medical advice when you have a rash.
Some rashes are caused by apparent factors, while others are more difficult to pinpoint. The most common causes of rashes are:
- Bug bites
- Insect stings
- Reactions to plants such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac
- Skin conditions such as eczema, athlete’s foot, rosacea, or psoriasis
- Bacterial or viral infections such as chickenpox, shingles, and measles
- Fungal infections such as ringworm
- Reactions to certain medications
- Contact dermatitis caused when the skin comes in contact with an irritant
- Intertrigo which is caused when the surface in one area of the body rubs against the skin in another area
- Autoimmune diseases such as lupus
- An infection of the skin
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, rashes can appear with one or several of the following characteristics:
- Scaly patches
- Dry patches
- Skin redness
- Breaking of the skin
Common Skin Rashes in Babies and Children
Childhood skin rashes are particularly common and affect various parts of a baby or child’s body. Since a baby’s skin is very new, they are usually at higher risk of having a skin rash. As a child’s immune system develops, their skin becomes less sensitive and susceptible to irritation or infection. But babies and young children can also develop a rash as their parents and healthcare providers discover allergies as they grow.
The most common skin rashes in infants and children include:
- Baby acne, usually appearing on the face
- Cradle cap
- Diaper rash caused by wetness or acidic urine or feces
- A rash around the mouth or on the chest caused by irritation from drooling
- Eczema, usually appearing on the face, arms, or behind the knees
- Fifth disease, which is accompanied by fever, fatigue, and sore throat
- Hand, foot and mouth disease- a common, extremely contagious childhood illness
- Heat rash, usually appearing in clothed areas that get warm, such as the armpits, legs, torso, chest, arms, and groin
- Hives, usually caused by an allergic reaction to food, medication, or skin contact with irritants
- Impetigo, a contagious bacterial infection common in children ages 2-5
- Viral diseases such as measles, chickenpox, scarlet fever, miliamolluscum contagiosum, or roseola
- Thrush, an oral yeast infection
How to Treat Rashes in Children At Home?
When it comes to rashes in infants and children, your best bet may be to visit your pediatrician. They will be able to determine whether your child’s rash is a sign of an allergy or a more severe illness. While rash treatment is dependent on the cause, here are some at-home remedies for common childhood rashes:
- Diaper rash treatment- Diaper rash is one of the most common skin conditions in babies. The warmth and moisture caused by a diaper hold close to the baby’s skin or the acidity of a baby’s urine or feces that irritates their skin. The best at-home treatments for diaper rash include:
- Frequent diaper changes to avoid skin irritations or moisture buildup.
- Pay close attention to cleaning your child’s body and allowing their skin to dry before putting on a new diaper.
- Switch to sensitive skin baby wipes or wipes without alcohol, fragrances, or chemicals.
- Apply a barrier cream that protects the skin from exposure to moisture or irritants. Most creams include zinc oxide.
- Reduce the consumption of acidic foods, such as citrus or tomatoes, in your baby’s diet.
- Frequently wash hands before and after diaper changes to promote healing and avoid further infection.
- Drool rash treatment- Drool rashes affect the face and are prevalent in babies. As a baby’s salivary glands develop, or they go through teething, babies can have drool on their face for extended periods. Additionally, using pacifiers, frequent face wiping, and acids in the drool can cause a problem with your baby’s sensitive skin. While drool rash usually resolves on its own, you can speed up the healing process with the following at-home methods:
- Keep your baby’s face dry by patting any moisture away.
- Clean your baby’s face with warm water only. Avoid soaps and other products with chemicals, alcohol, or other possible skin irritants that can worsen the rash.
- Use a drool bib to avoid wetness on your baby’s chest.
- Avoid fragranced lotions.
- Minimize pacifier use.
- Clean a baby’s face gently.
- Eczema treatment- Eczema is a skin rash that affects people of all ages, but it’s particularly common with children. A family history of eczema or sensitive skin can leave your child more susceptible to eczema. It can also be caused by allergies, food sensitivities, or sensitivity to laundry detergents, fabrics, or other irritants. While some cases require medical treatment, most cases of baby eczema can be treated at home by:
- Keep the affected area clean and dry.
- Use over-the-counter eczema creams, ointments, or washes.
- Give the baby an oatmeal bath.
- Eliminate bothersome allergens.
- Identify triggers or allergies.
- Cradle cap treatment- Cradle cap is similar to adult dandruff. It causes incredibly flaky, thick skin on a baby’s scalp. It is most common in babies 3-months-old and under and usually goes away on its own. In some cases, your pediatrician may prescribe an antifungal, hydrocortisone, or zinc cream to help your baby heal. It’s essential to be cautious with cradle cap because extreme scalp irritation can cause breaks in the skin that can become infected. At-home treatment for cradle cap includes:
- Gently brushing your baby’s scalp to remove flakes. Do not pick or scrape flakes, instead allow loose flakes to be swept through the hair on their own.
- Hydrate the scalp to loosen existing flakes and nourish the scalp. Use a pure plant topical oil such as coconut, olive, jojoba, or almond oil can be helpful. You should gently massage the oil into the baby’s scalp and let it sit for up to 15 minutes before washing it out with gentle baby shampoo. Be sure to test a small area first to be sure the baby’s skin isn’t sensitive to the oil.
- Proper hair hygiene can help treat cradle cap. Wash your baby’s hair regularly with a gentle shampoo. Be sure to remove all the shampoo from your baby’s hair. Never use a dandruff shampoo unless directed by a medical professional.
When to Call a Doctor About Your Child’s Rash
A variety of symptoms can accompany childhood rashes. While even a painful, irritating rash might be no cause for concern, it’s essential to know when to call a doctor about a rash on a child. Contact your child’s doctor immediately if:
- Your child is younger than six months of age
- A fever accompanies a rash
- A rash doesn’t get better after several days or with over-the-counter treatment
- Your child isn’t eating well
- Your child has a rash that shows signs of infection such as oozing or appearing wet, swollen, extremely, red, or is hot to the touch
- Your child’s rash goes beyond the diaper area into the torso or legs
- A rash peels, especially on the hands and feet
- A rash appears as small, red spots that don’t fade when you press on them
- Your child has bruises not caused by an injury
- A rash is accompanied by painful urination
- Your child has a butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks
- A rash looks like a bull’s eye or is in the shape of an oval
- Your child has hives or swelling of the mouth or face
- There is a change in the way your child breathes or they experience trouble breathing
- A rash is widespread and covers the entire body
When it comes to children, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider any time you have concerns about their skin. It’s better to talk to your pediatrician about a rash that is of no concern than to miss a severe sign of a medical problem.
Common Skin Rashes in Adults
Rashes are as common in adults as they are in children. While adults can also experience some of the rashes children do, they may be susceptible to other outbreaks as well. The most common rashes found in adults are:
- Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis
- Pityriasis, also called the Christmas tree rash because it can form a pattern on the back that resembles a Christmas tree
- Contact dermatitis, caused by direct contact with an allergen, chemical, or irritating substance
- Drug rash, caused by interaction from medication
- Heat rash
- Intertrigo from skin-to-skin friction
- An inflammatory condition called lichen planus
- A fungal infection called ringworm
- A chronic skin condition called rosacea
- Shingles, caused by the varicella-zoster virus
- Swimmer’s itch, caused by a waterborne parasite
- Poison ivy, oak, or sumac
How to Treat Adult Rashes at Home
Most skin rashes can be treated at home. The goal of treatment is usually to reduce pain or alleviate discomfort or itchiness. The more you can alleviate bothersome symptoms, the easier it is to reduce the risk of tearing the skin, which can lead to infections. The best way to treat skin rashes at home is to:
- Wash the area with mild soap and cool water.
- Be sure your skin is dry. Pat your skin dry, don’t rub.
- Allow as much exposure to air as possible. This will help heal the rash and keep the skin dry.
- Cover any rash that will come in contact with clothing or other coverings with a loose, gauze bandage to avoid friction.
- Try an oatmeal bath.
- Stay out of the sun.
- Eliminate contaminants or allergens.
- Avoid products that contain alcohol, fragrance, or other chemicals.
- Apply an over-the-counter rash cream or hydrocortisone cream for itching.
- Use an over-the-counter oral antihistamine such as Benadryl.
When to Call Your Doctor About a Rash in Adults
Some rashes require medical treatment. You should contact your healthcare provider or a board-certified dermatologist if your rash:
- Is on your face
- Is on your genitals
- Doesn’t respond to over-the-counter creams or antihistamines
- Appears after starting a new medication
- Last for more than a few days
- Seems to be worsening over time
- Appears as a bull’s eye
When Should I Visit the Nearest Urgent Care or Doctor with a Rash?
In some cases, your rash can be a sign of a severe condition. Individuals of all ages should visit the nearest urgent care facility if you experience the following symptoms with a rash:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the face, mouth, or throat
- A fever
- Fluid-filled blisters or open sores
- Signs of infection which include:
- Extreme Pain
- Your rash keeps you from your normal daily activities
- You experience a rash while pregnant
- Your rash spreads quickly
- It covers the entire body
- Becomes extremely painful
- Bruise-like lesions that spread fast
- Purple spots on the hands and feet
At University Urgent Care, our Board-Certified nurses are available seven days a week from 10 AM- 8 PM. Be seen by a qualified healthcare professional at our convenient location with little wait time. Our team treats a wide variety of medical conditions for patients throughout the Fort Worth, Texas community. We’re dedicated to compassionate, thorough, and dependable healthcare our patients can trust. Because we know it’s never a good time to get sick, our online check-in system is convenient and easy-to-use. Book your appointment online now or give us a call at (817) 439-9539.