A new rash on your skin is always a cause for concern and you should immediately see Dr. Davis for diagnosis and treatment, since some can be contagious. Rashes often appear red, and can itch, hurt, blister, or throb. They can be round, linear, small or large – and eventually cover a part of, or the entire body. Rashes can appear suddenly, or represent a chronic, benign condition. They can occur on any part of the body, but some rashes favor certain areas. Most rashes do not scar and with the help of Dr. Davis can be diagnosed and treated rapidly.
Rashes Due to Infections
Bacterial infections can cause crusting or large blisters to appear on the skin. This is known as impetigo. These skin lesions are contagious and can spread along the skin of an individual, as well as to others. Children are usually kept home from school with this condition. Fortunately, these lesions can be diagnosed clinically, confirmed with a bacterial culture, and rapidly respond to treatment with antibiotics.
Herpes infections are caused by the Herpes family of viruses. Generally a cluster of blisters will appear on a solitary pink spot (most Herpes Simplex cold sores appear this way). Herpes zoster, also known as shingles, will present with a series of linear, coin shaped, blistering lesions following the course of a nerve; appearing only on one side of the body. Fortunately Dr. Davis can diagnose these infections clinically, confirm them by taking a culture, and can prescribe oral/topical medications to treat you.
Rashes can also appear from other viral infections-many of the “childhood” illnesses can cause rashes. There can be a rash from measles, mumps, varicella (chicken pox), Fifth Disease, molluscum, etc. Some of these will cause you to develop a fever as well.
Fungal infections can cause a variety of skin rashes too. Ringworm is actually a fungal infection of the skin. It appears as red, flaking circles that gradually expand and form arc-like lesions. Dr. Davis can diagnose this clinically, confirm it by taking a culture, and treat you with a variety of topical or oral prescription medications. There is also a common skin rash caused by a yeast species of fungus, tinea versicolor. This gives rise to circular brown, tan, or pink flat spots on the trunk in areas of sweat production. This infection is generally seen only in adults. It responds to a variety of topical or oral prescription medications.
Allergic Causes of Rashes
Aside from infections, the other major cause of skin rashes is allergic. Urticaria, also known as hives presents with wheals (swollen red spots) on the skin. These usually appear all over the body, such as when someone is allergic to something they have ingested (usually a food or a medication). Alternatively, allergic rashes can be localized and appear at the site where something you are allergic to has contacted your skin; causing a rash to appear in that area. Treatment of urticaria involves a fairly lengthy discussion to figure out the causative agent. Dr. Davis will need to review the foods you have ingested and medications taken prior to the appearance of the skin eruption. She can then guide you on what may be avoided to help the rash resolve, as well as prescribe medication to make you more comfortable and help the rash heal faster.
Localized allergic rashes can be sudden, such as from poison ivy (which usually causes linear blisters on the arm); or from a chronic skin condition where the rash reappears in fixed locations. Individuals with atopic dermatitis (eczema) or psoriasis have thick, red, flaking skin lesions on flexural and extensor surfaces of the body, respectively. Atopic dermatitis typically involves the folds of the body, such as the inside of the elbows, area behind the knees, the neck, and eyelids. People with psoriasis usually have red, scaling areas on the elbows, knees, and scalp. Various treatments are available depending on the extent of the skin condition and the age of the patient. If there are just a few lesions then topical therapy would be chosen; if widespread, then oral options would be discussed.