There’s nothing worse than sitting around at home, minding your own business, wanting to just relax, and finding out that you have a rash, out of the blue! Rashes come in all shapes, sizes, and severity levels. Some are small and minor, while others are worse than you can imagine. Rashes also have countless causes that can keep you wondering what the heck is going on.
One thing is for sure: a rash is not normal. It’s a sign that your body is irritated, so pay attention. Treatment may or may not be on the agenda. Not sure if you should rush to the doctor? Get to know about these common rashes and how to manage them.
Hives, or urticaria, point to an allergic reaction. They show up as welts or smooth, raised bumps that are red and itchy.1 Possible causes of hives include allergies to food, bug bites, plants, or cosmetics. Sometimes, even stress can bring on hives. But this is more common in people who get it from other allergies.
Hives will go away on their own, but it’s not a bad idea to take an antihistamine, especially if you have other symptoms.2 To prevent another reaction in the future, try your best to avoid the trigger factor(s).
A sunburn is like a normal burn except that the heat is from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Usually, a little exposure isn’t harmful, but overexposure will fire up the skin. Sunburn rashes are red, tender, and warm and symptoms can take up to 24 hours to show up! After a few days, blisters and peeling may develop.
Treat sunburn at home with aloe vera, cortisol cream, or cold washcloths. Experts also recommend drinking lots of water to re-hydrate. In the future, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Re-apply every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
When possible, stay indoors between 10 am and 4 pm. The sun’s rays are brutal during this time. It’s the best way to avoid sunburns and, most importantly, skin cancer.
3. Heat Rash
After a long day of sweating, heat rashes (or prickly heat) are common. These occur when sweat glands are blocked. If sweat can’t evaporate, tiny red or white bumps develop. Really bad rashes may even blister.
Heat rashes feel prickly and itchy, so they’re hard to ignore. But after cooling down, the rash will go away. Prevent future reactions by wearing loose cotton clothing and staying in ventilated areas. Tight fabrics are also not your friend!3
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, affects 30% of the American population. It’s not contagious, but it lasts a lifetime and causes dry and itchy rashes during an outbreak.4 After too much scratching, the rash might weep clear fluid.5
If you have eczema, know your triggers – and avoid them. Common offenders include dry skin, sweating, household cleaners, soap, metals, fragrances, fabrics, and cigarette smoke. Even stress can spark an outbreak.6
To treat an eczema rash, moisturize 2 to 3 times a day. Use a moisturizer that’s free of dyes, scents, and alcohol. Your doctor might prescribe topical steroids.7
Shingles is like the chickenpox of adulthood as both are caused by the same virus – varicella-zoster. The virus stays in your body and re-surfaces decades later. In fact, 50% of shingles patients are over 60 years old.8
The first symptoms of shingles are a burning or tingling pain that slowly turns into numbness and itchiness. In a week, fluid-filled blisters develop. The pain varies from person to person.
Antiviral drugs can control shingles, but you can avoid “waking up” the virus by staying healthy. Haven’t had shingles yet? You might qualify for a vaccine, which lowers the risk by half.9
If a rash is severe – or if you don’t recognize it – visit a doctor ASAP. It might be a sign of a bigger problem.
|↑1||Hives (Urticaria). Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.|
|↑2||Hives. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑3||Miliaria. The Australasian College of Dermatologists.|
|↑4||Eczema. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑5||Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis). National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.|
|↑6||Eczema Causes and Triggers. National Eczema Association.|
|↑7||Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) Treatment. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.|
|↑8||Shingles (Herpes Zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑9||Shingles Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.|