Need Help Identifying that Rash?

Every person on the planet has likely had some type of rash or skin condition at one time or another. If you rarely have any problems then consider yourself lucky. However, others may have one problem after another. If you are unsure of what type of rash you do have when you get one, the following primer could have you looking in the right direction when it comes to identification and treatment.


Psoriasis is a recurring skin condition which is readily apparent by the red base of skin with the thick scales on top that has a whitish, silvery color. Typically psoriasis is found on the scalp, knees and elbow, although it can be found elsewhere. Psoriasis occurs when your immune system mistakes your skin as the enemy and "attacks" it. Because the condition is chronic, there may be dormant periods when the skin is fine. Sometimes an unrelated illness can trigger the immune system to kick off the psoriasis.

Pityriasis rosea

One of the most common rashes around is called pityriasis rosea and can last for up to eight weeks. It begins with a single round lesion or spot along the trunk of your body. This first lesion is called a herald patch because it heralds the eventual arrival of the rest of the rash which makes its appearance along the lines of the skin.

Chicken pox

Chicken pox is a type of rash which is caused by the varicella virus. Because of the chicken pox vaccine, cases in the U.S. are quite low but some people still get it. This itchy skin rash starts out as a small bubble like lesion which progresses to many more of them. These bubble-like formations rupture and crust over. As they heal, they itch. If scratched, the fluid from these pox spots can spread infection elsewhere. Adults with the varicella virus lying dormant in their bodies could have a reactivation of them which would be called shingles. This more serious version of the virus causes bad blister-like rashes which are not only painful but also itchy.


Eczema is a common rash which itches and is related to allergic causes. There is no real known reason as to why eczema occurs and it is thought that there may be deformities within the epidermal layer of the skin. These deformities may cause drier than normal patches of skin which are highly sensitive to outside elements like soaps and chemicals. Eczema cannot be cured (since no cause is known) but it can be treated.

Poison ivy

Poison ivy is a common rash that affects thousands to even millions of people every year. It is caused by the sap from a plant and skin contact with this sap creates a rash. This rash is red and can form blisters on the areas that came in contact with the sap. The skin areas affected may also look raw and oozing. Treatment consists primarily of ointments and lotions which work to quell the itching and inflammation.

Ringworm and athlete's foot

Ringworm and athlete's foot are both caused by a fungal infection. With ringworm, the rash you get is typically in the form of a round lesion which can be red, scaly and itchy. Some ringworm is bumpy and raised. With athlete's foot, you can get scaling, itchy redness on the soles of your feet, the sides of the feet or even between the toes. Both ringworm and athlete's foot require antifungal ointments or other medications to combat them.

There are a variety of other skin conditions that can affect your life. Hives, scabies, dermatitis and more can be a problem. Some skin conditions are genetic and others are caused by a specific event, illness or germ. With the help of a doctor, you can trace the origins of any rash you have.