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Tips to deal with an itchy skin rash

Do you have a skin rash? Find out what causes it and how can you treat it.

Skin rashesYou start scratching your skin and within no time you realize that it has turned red and bumpy. You probably wonder how the rash appeared so suddenly and why you can't stop scratching it.

Whether you are allergic and get skin rashes quite frequently or among those who have experienced a skin rash for the first time, knowing the reason behind your rash and the ways to take care it can surely make your life much easier.

Know what causes skin rashes

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A skin rash usually develops when the immune system generates a response against a foreign body, be it an infectious agent or a chemical. Here are a few common causes of skin rashes:

  • An allergic reaction to external agents like metals (in jewelry), cosmetics, chemicals or pollutants present in the environment can cause a skin rash. Such condition is called as contact dermatitis.
  • Drugs can cause skin rashes as a side-effect. The rash starts with small red spots which gradually spread over a large area. (Read: Knowing about drug allergies could save your life!)
  • Ingestion of certain foods can cause an allergic reaction.
  • Fungal, bacterial or viral infections
  • Mosquito or insect bites
  • Excessive sweating or sunburn (Read: Could you be allergic to your food?)

Most of the times, skin rashes are not dangerous. They subside on their own, unless aggravated further. But rashes that do not calm over a long time or are caused due to an infection need to be treated immediately.

Tips for treating a skin rash

  • If the rash develops suddenly, calm it down with water and mild soap. Don't cover it or scratch the affected area.
  • Apply some ice if the rash starts swelling. Don't expose it rash to direct sunlight. It may turn worse.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes at nights. Prefer fabric that doesn't cause itching.
  • Until the rash goes away, use mild soap for bathing. Don't use perfumes or deodorants on the affected area.
  • Apply some moisturizer or calamine lotion on the rash if it is caused by an external allergic reaction.
  • Natural coolants like cucumber and aloe vera can also be used on the affected area.
  • Dab some chamomile oil on the rash for a soothing effect. (Read: Home remedies for every skincare problem you've ever had!)

There are various over-the-counter creams that contain cooling agents like camphor and menthol. These are effective in reducing itchy, red rashes. OTC antihistamine drugs like chlorpheniramine, cetirizine and diphenhydramine can also be taken. But, read the label carefully before using.

Skin rashes caused by internal reactions such as food or drug allergies or due to infections can be harmful and may lead to serious consequences. If these tips do not help you, consult a dermatologist or a general physician.

References:

  • Stewart B. Fleishman, MD, Lindy P. Fox, MD, David H. Garfield, MD, Carol S. Viele, RN, MS, Carolyn Messner, DSW. Tips for managing treatment-related rash and dry skin.
  • American Academy of Dermatology (http://www.aad.org/dermaz/Default.aspx)
  • National Library of Medicine http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/rashes.html

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