Rash (dermatologic)

A rash is indicated by a change in the color or texture of the epidermis: the top layer of skin. Adult rashes can be triggered by environmental factors (exposure to sun, chemicals, and poisonous plants) or internal factors (exposure to allergens, medications, acne, etc.). Knowing your own skin is the first key to properly treating skin rashes.


  • Red bumps and radiating redness
  • Itching, burning sensation, unusual accompanied by red bumps
  • Cracked, scaly skin or blisters

Who is at risk?

Diabetes can contribute to skin rashes. Adult acne has a tendency to show up in peri-menopausal women, as early as the late 30s.


Dermatologists will advise keeping the affected skin clean and dry until a rash can be examined, but there are topical creams that may relieve the itching and burning sensation. Hydrocortisone is widely recommended as a first stop for rashes, but if this does nothing to reduce the symptoms, consult a physician.

Rashes that develop because of an allergy or a contagious disease really should be treated by a physician who can diagnose the source of the outbreak and prescribe the most effective treatment, from creams to antibiotics. If the rash is possibly associated with something you’ve eaten, of course refrain from eating that item again until you have seen a doctor. Bring with you the box or package with full ingredient disclosure to rule out a food allergy.

Emergency Warning Signs: When should I see a doctor?

Seek emergency help right away if your eyes or throat are swollen. Even the slightest swelling can restrict breathing and could lead to anaphylaxis. Be prepared for your appointment with a physician by noting when the rash first occurred, what you ate in the past 24 hours, if and how quickly the rash has spread and what treatments you have tried at home.

For more information on rashes, see the following websites:

WebMD Adult Skin Problems Slideshow and Sensitive Skin Quiz

Skin of Color and Rash or Pigmentation Diagnosis from American Academy of Dermatology

WebMD video on Eczema

Medline Plus (NIH) Images and Examples of Different Types of Rashes

Disclaimer: The links above are to sites independent of MtLakesMedical.com. The pages will open in a new browser window. The information provided is for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your doctor. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding your specific medical questions, treatments, therapies, and other needs.