Skin rashes come in many forms. They can be flat such as macules or raised like papules or vesicles. Skin rashes can either be localized to one area or can be present all over the body. These descriptions are useful in narrowing down the cause of the skin rash as they can be caused by a multitude of medical conditions. Oftentimes skin rashes can be itchy, painful, or blistering. Here we listed 9 common causes of skin rashes seen in both adults and children. If you have any doubts, find a doctor to help you.
What are the main causes of skin rashes?
Skin rashes, as mentioned before, can be a clinical feature of many diseases.
Some of them are :
- Contact dermatitis
This is probably the most common type of skin rash experienced by people. This skin rash is characterized by itchy papules and vesicles with an erythematous base. This occurs when a person comes into contact with a substance they are allergic to such as clothing, facial, or body products.
- Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
Atopic dermatitis is usually seen in children with a family history of other atopy diseases such as asthma or allergies. Symptoms include itchiness, dry scaly skin, reddish or brown patches seen inside the bend of elbows and knees, and sometimes also causes small fluid-filled bumps that crusts.
- Urticaria (hives)
Urticaria occurs when there are high levels of histamines released in the skin. Most of the time, the cause of urticaria is unidentified but some of its triggers include allergies, infection, hot or cold environments, and drugs. Urticaria is characterized by raised, itchy skin. It is also commonly referred to as hives, wheals, or welts.
- Heat rash
Heat rash, also known as sweat rash or miliaria is a type of skin rash that is seen in babies and adults. As the name implies, it is caused by hot, humid weather or if you are sweating too much. It appears as tiny red bumps mostly around areas covered in clothing such as the back, abdomen, groin, neck, and armpits.
- Drug rash
Drug rash happens due to your body’s reaction to certain drugs. This rash occurs mostly as a side effect. Characteristics of this type of rash are redness or peeling skin, blisters, bumps, and vesicles. Some examples of drug rashes can be seen in cases like Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and erythema nodosum.
- Diaper rash
This type of rash occurs in babies who had their wet or dirty diapers on for too long or if there is friction between the diaper and the skin. Other causes include bacterial or yeast infection and allergies. Diaper rash appears as pink to reddish skin that is painful and dry. In severe cases, the skin will peel off and there might be bleeding as well.
- Insect bites and stings
Insects such as mosquitos, mites, fleas, and bedbugs, and ants usually cause a small raised bump with itchiness and redness of the skin. However, in some cases, insect bites and stings can lead to inflammation, swelling, pain, and blister formation especially if you develop an allergic reaction to it.
Many types of skin rashes are caused by infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Some commonly seen rashes are :
- Chickenpox – caused by the varicella-zoster virus that can affect both children and adults. This rash initially appears as an itchy, fluid-filled blister that eventually crusts and falls off. This rash can appear all over the body.
- Herpes rash – caused by the herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 that is found localized around the mouth and genitals. This rash also appears as fluid-filled blisters that will crust and fall off.
- Hand Foot Mouth Disease – caused by the coxsackievirus A16 that primarily affects children. The rash appears in the hands, mouth, and foot as blisters and can be painful.
- Tinea corporis – a skin rash caused by a fungal infection that presents as an erythematous, scaly plaque with a raised border.
- Erysipelas – caused by the Streptococcus bacteria and presents as swelling, redness, and a well-defined border with a burning sensation.
- Impetigo – caused by the Staphylococcus and Streptococcus usually appears around the nose and mouth. It is more commonly seen in children. The skin starts as an itchy, red sore and then turns into a honey-colored crust.
- Autoimmune – SLE, psoriasis
Autoimmune diseases are generally systemic diseases. However, they can manifest as skin reactions. Examples of this are the skin rashes caused by psoriasis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). In psoriasis, the skin rash appears as scaly plaques that can occur anywhere on the body. In SLE, an erythematous rash, named the ‘butterfly rash’ appears over the cheeks and nasal bridge. Another cutaneous manifestation in SLE is a diffuse, erythematous rash in response to photosensitivity.