The skin is the largest organ in the human body, and because it’s outside bumping up against the environment all kinds of rashes can develop*. The causes of rash are many: infectious, allergic, and inflammatory to name a few. Sometimes they’re cancerous.
Diagnosing a rash right takes detective work. What was happening before the rash developed? What did the rash look like when it first started? What’s already been tried to treat it?
There are a lot of red patches of rash and just as many over-the-counter creams and ointments to treat them. The art is matching them up correctly. The pattern can help make the diagnosis.
A small patch of rash with the skin looking uniformly red and irritated is often contact dermatitis or a bit of eczema. These rashes often respond to moisturizers and over the counter hydrocortisone ointments.
A ring-shaped rash of irritated skin around normal looking skin can be a sign of a fungal infection. As the fungus works its way outwards, the ring of infection grows leaving a healed center. Tinea corporis, the Latin-ed up name for this, often responds to over the counter anti-fungal creams like clotrimazole.
Rashes that appear infected and crusted are harder to pin down. Sometimes the infection is caused by staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria and called impetigo. Carefully soaking, removing the crust and applying over-the-counter antibiotic ointment like bacitracin may help, but more often, due to bacterial resistance, a prescription medication will be needed. Sometimes these infection are viral, like herpes or chicken pox.
*This post is not a substitute for medical care. Contact your doctor immediately for:
1. Any rash that appears blue or purple or looks like bruising or broken blood vessels.
2. Deep, tender red infections that may be caused by MRSA: methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureas.
3. Moles that develop color changes.
4. Anything that concerns you.
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