A rash covers a wide range of skin changes. A rash is defined as a variation in your skin, anywhere on your body. Most rashes involve a change in color, texture, and/or sensation. Not all turn red. Some just change your skin’s texture, becoming scalier or less smooth. Other rashes look bright or painful but don’t itch at all. Still, others become itchy skin rashes that may look otherwise normal — until you start scratching. When you visit your New York dermatology practice, your doctor reviews your symptoms and medical history. Rashes are such a common symptom of other issues that your dermatologist first looks for what’s causing your rash. Any information you can provide helps the specialist narrow down what kind of rash you have. Tell your doctor:
- When you first noticed it
- The size of your rash — and how big it was at the beginning
- The color, texture changes, location, and temperature of your rash
- Whether you’ve noticed any swelling
- Whether it’s itching
- If you’ve come into contact with any irritants or allergens in the last day or two
- If you have a fever or other illness or have come in contact with anyone who was ill
- Recent travel
The symptoms of your rash reflect what caused it in the first place, and they can even change over time, especially if you leave it untreated. Your rash may consist of a collection of little red bumps, swelling, or blisters. It can cover a large area or just the crevice inside your knee or elbow. It may start as a dry skin rash but morph into a moist, itchy skin rash as it runs its course. There’s no time limit on rashes, either. Sometimes, your rash appears abruptly, as in the case of an allergic reaction, while other rashes evolve over days or even weeks. Some resolve on their own, but others need some medical intervention.
The Internal Causes of a Rash
The various triggers for skin rashes include genetics, medications, or other medical conditions. There are several rashes that are genetically traceable through your family. The most common one is eczema. Another rash that may be caused by genetics has to do with specific allergies, such as certain food or medications. These types of allergies tend to run in families, and they may result in a rash if you trigger the allergy. If you’re suffering from other medical conditions, you may find that one of those illnesses is causing your skin rash. The rash is referred to as a “secondary symptom.” Another possible cause is any medication you may have taken in the last seven to 10 days. Often, these drug-related rashes are painless, non-itchy rashes that are flat, red, and blotchy. These kinds of rashes indicate that your body is reacting adversely to the medication. If you believe your rash is being caused by medication, contact your Manhattan dermatologist immediately.
External Irritants Also Cause Rashes
You may develop a rash from contact with an external irritant — that is, something you touched, held, consumed, or even just brushed up against. Some things naturally irritate your skin, and the slightest contact can leave you with a non-itchy, dry skin rash. The severity of your response depends on your skin’s sensitivity. If you’re actually allergic to the external irritant, your skin can react more severely, including a rapidly appearing rash or even blisters. The list of possible irritants is long and includes:
- Everyday items such as scented soap on your skin or the detergent you used on your clothes
- Certain plants, such as poison ivy or poison oak, which cause rashes that are painful and itchy — doubly so if you’re allergic to them
- The food you’re allergic to — if your allergy is severe enough, you can get a contact dermatitis rash just by handling the food, without even consuming it.
- A harsh chemical, such as bleach, if it comes into contact with your bare skin.
- Heat, whether from leaning against something warm, using a hot tub, or being outside in excessive heat for too long
- Your own skin — wherever perspiration becomes trapped or when you experience skin-on-skin contact or friction
Diagnosing Your Skin Rash
There are so many potential causes for a rash that you can’t realistically list them all in one place. The large difference in rashes from one person to another, coupled with the long list of possible causes, means that your skin specialist in New York City can’t diagnosis a rash described over the phone. An in-person appointment is necessary for proper diagnosis and treatment. It’s possible, however, that a top Manhattan dermatologist can narrow down the category of your rash upon sight. Be aware that sometimes your rash may have no apparent cause, no matter how knowledgeable your skin specialist is or how many tests are run. In these instances, your rash often goes away on its own after a day or a week. If you find that you suffer from recurring rashes and nothing seems to work, your doctor can at least give you something to treat the symptoms.
Treatments for your rash normally fall into one of the following general categories:
- A topical cream or ointment that places directly on the rash
- A change in the medication that caused the rash
- Tracing the rash to another medical issue that’s the actual problem and then treating that
- Oral antihistamines
- Medicated baths
Some rashes may require several treatments before they begin to disappear. It depends on the severity and location of the rash. Some rashes won’t recede until the root cause has been addressed. Either way, you should always see your NYC dermatologist when you have a stubborn skin rash that’s affecting your daily life.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult dermatologist NYC about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board-certified dermatology doctor or pediatric dermatologist could determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.Locations: Manhattan Dermatology (Upper East Side) 983 Park Ave, Ste 1D1, NY 10028
(212) 427-8750 Manhattan Dermatology (Midtown) 56 W 45th St, Ste 819, NY 10036
(212) 889-2402 Manhattan Dermatology (Union Square) 55 W 17th St, Ste 103, NY 10011