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Rash (cont.)

What Are Rash Symptoms and Signs?

Most rashes tend to be itchy, although some, especially the most serious, may be painful or burning. Rashes can be further subdivided into itchy or non-itchy.

Types of itchy rashes include

  • hives and welts (urticaria),
  • bug bites, including bedbugs,
  • scabies (mite infestation),
  • eczema (skin allergy),
  • dry skin (also called "xerosis"),
  • heat rash (may be irritation or superficial infection in areas of moisture, heat, friction, and occlusion), and
  • some viral rashes.

Non-itchy rashes (although these may at times also be itchy) include

Rashes come in many different colors, sizes, shapes, and patterns. Most rashes tend to be red because of skin inflammation. Rashes may be described as

  • flat (macular),
  • raised or bumpy (papular),
  • raised, sheet-like (plaque),
  • a mixture of flat and raised, termed "maculopapular,"
  • small pus bumps (pustular),
  • acneiform ("acne-like" with small or large pimples),
  • small clear blisters (vesicular),
  • red or pink,
  • petechial (tiny pinpoint bleeding into the skin),
  • silvery white scales (psoriasis),
  • annular (circular with central clearing, like in ringworm infections or Lyme disease),
  • eczematous (dry, scaly, rough when early, thick and discolored after time),
  • excoriated (scratched areas). This may be superimposed on any other rash.

Noninfectious Rashes

  • Contact dermatitis is a very common cause of noninfectious rash. It includes dermatitis as from poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, as well as other allergic skin rashes. External agents such as nickel can typically produce an inflammatory reaction over a period of time, causing itching, rash, or burning of the skin. Over the short term, this type of rash may cause superficial peeling, whereas more chronic cases cause thickened patches of skin called lichen simplex chronicus (LSC).
  • Psoriasis typically looks like thickened patches of dry red skin, particularly on the knees, elbows, and nape of the neck. There are many types of psoriasis, and this type of rash may uncommonly involve the entire body and may resemble sunburn. When psoriasis involves skin folds such as the armpits or groin, it is termed "inverse psoriasis" and may show little or no scale.
  • Rosacea is a type of adult acne that may cause facial flushing, small pink bumps, and redness of the cheeks and nose.
  • Lupus-related skin changes are known to become exacerbated by sunlight exposure. Lupus can present as red, raised patches or a generalized rash on the nose, ears, cheeks, and base of the nail folds.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis or seborrhea is a common rash that is characterized by redness and scaling of the face, ears, eyebrows, and scalp. On the scalp it is more commonly called dandruff.

Infectious Rashes

  • Herpes produces groups or clusters of small watery blisters on a red base. They tend to recur periodically in the same place.
  • Ringworm (tinea) leads to dry, red patches with dry skin flakes. Often there is central clearing, creating a donut pattern (annular appearance).
  • Scabies may cause very itchy papules (bumps) on the scrotum or penis.
Last Reviewed 11/20/2017
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