What Your Rash Means and When You Should See a Doctor

 What Your Rash Means and When You Should See a Doctor

Nobody wants a rash. They’re unsightly and can be irritating, but they can also be a sign of something deeper and scarier going on. Determining the cause of your rash is the quickest way to decide whether or not you need to see a doctor.

Rashes of All Kinds

A rash is often a sign that your skin came into contact with an allergen or other skin irritant. A rash is a visible notice that our skin or in some cases our entire body is reacting to negative stimulus. A lot of rashes come and go, but even a small, hardly noticeable rash can be a cause for concern. A rash can appear in a few different ways, but it’s usually characterized by redness, raised skin, and is often warm to the touch. Irritation like itching and burning are frequently associated with rashes. Most rashes are referred to as a type of dermatitis, but that is not always the case.

Dermatitis Explained

Dermatitis or eczema is the most common source of rashes. Dermatitis refers to the actual itchy, red, swollen rashes that may be accompanied by dry skin, burning and stinging, and other lesions or hives. Eczema is the name for the chronic condition of recurring dermatitis, with or without explanation. There are a few different types of dermatitis with the most common being contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is often caused by allergens like poison ivy or household chemicals, including bleach.

Other Rashes and Concerns

As we’ve discussed, there are countless ways a person can develop a rash. Here are a few of the most common reasons to consider.

Lyme Disease

A growing cause of concern for people throughout the Northeastern United States, this deer tick-borne illness can cause chronic health conditions if not detected and treated early. Deer ticks are small and their bites are often painless. Usually, the very first indication of lyme disease is its rash. While many people know to look for a bull’s-eye rash, this stage doesn’t last long. A bull’s-eye rash is a round rash with red or pink borders, with a ring of skin that is its normal color and then an even redder, round patch at the center. It may cause itching, burning or pain like other rashes, but Lyme disease requires immediate treatment. Its effects can be chronic and cause things conditions like arthritis and neurological issues like memory loss and dementia. Early treatment for Lyme disease is critical, so if you suspect a rash may be Lyme disease, see a doctor immediately.

Shingles or Herpes Zoster

Shingles is a form of the herpes zoster virus that affects skin. It is often experienced by older people, but anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles later on. Shingles episodes are often painful clusters of rashes that quickly become blisters. These cause extreme discomfort and are contagious. Treating the symptoms of shingles early can greatly reduce the hardship it has the potential to cause. People with shingles are sometimes unable to go about their lives for weeks with the virus.

Unexplained Rashes

Not every rash has a rational explanation as simple as a tick bite or contact with an allergen. Sometimes rashes are representative of a health problem far below the skin’s surface.

If you have any of the rash symptoms discussed, and listed below, you should see a doctor. If your rash is spread out over much of your body, treatment is recommended. If a fever accompanies your rash, or it’s painful(either to the touch or with movement, seek medical help. If your rash is sudden and spreads, it can be a cause for concern. Sudden, spreading rashes can indicate an allergic reaction which, if accompanied by difficulty breathing, are extremely dangerous. If your rash blisters or develops open sores, or shows signs of infection, it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible.

In short, see a doctor if you have a rash. There are always going to be symptoms you can explain away or ignore if they’re mild, but it’s important to consider your health. Even if a rash comes and goes, it doesn’t mean it won’t come back or that it doesn’t represents something internal happening. While oftentimes rashes resolve with little necessary attention, it’s well worth it to err on the side of caution.

If you’ve developed a rash, no matter how trivial it may appear, get someone to take a look at it. Call Northeast Dermatology Associates for professional care and the peace of mind it can bring.

Request an Appointment