Skin rashes come in many types with many possible causes, but most of them can cause itching. Although skin conditions like rosacea and psoriasis can cause non-itchy rashes, sometimes itching may also occur. Rashes may be caused by infectious agents like viruses, bacteria or fungi, but they may also be due to non-infectious conditions such as allergies, irritation, autoimmune conditions or other systemic diseases.
Some of the most common conditions associated with itchy rashes include the following:
- Atopic dermatitis is a chronic (long-term) condition that causes itchy patches of red, inflamed skin. It is also often called eczema, a common childhood skin disorder, which produces itchy, weeping rashes on the inner surface of the elbows and the back of the knees. Rashes may also be found on the cheeks, neck, chest, back, wrists, and ankles. Symptoms tend to flare up and then subside, only to come back after some time. It commonly occurs in patients who have asthma or hay fever.
- Contact dermatitis causes an itchy rash that occurs after contact with a specific substance to which you might be allergic to, or with a chemical that directly irritates your skin, occasionally causing weepy skin. Certain chemicals are both allergens and irritants. Common examples include allergy to poison oak or poison ivy and skin reactions to latex rubber gloves and nickel-containing costume jewelry.
- Heat rash develops when sweating is obstructed due to hot and humid weather, wearing tightfitting clothes, or overdressing. Prickly heat is heat rash that produces clusters of red small, bumps associated with stinging or pricking sensation. This condition usually gets better on its own and may be prevented by avoiding exposure to excessive heat and humidity and by wearing loose, light clothing.
- Intertrigo causes rashes in areas where there is skin-to-skin contact, causing friction and inflammation. These often occur in warm and moist areas, such as under the breasts, in the skin folds on the abdomen, the groin, underarms, between inner thighs, or between the toes. The skin may become painful or sensitive, and in severe cases, may result in cracked skin, oozing sores, or bleeding. Bacterial or fungal infection may occur at the affected site. Rashes may improve by keeping the affected areas dry and clean, wearing loose-fitting clothes, and using powder to reduce friction.
- Ringworm (tinea corpus) is an itchy rash caused by a fungal infection. The rash is red, scaly, and slightly raised, appearing like expanding rings that grow outward as the infection spreads. It is a contagious condition, which you can get through skin-to-skin contact or by coming in close contact with unwashed clothing, bedding, or other contaminated objects. Treatment consists of antifungal medication. It is called jock itch (tinea cruris) when it occurs in the groin and athlete's foot (tinea pedis) when it occurs in the foot.
- Swimmer's itch is a burning, itchy rash that is actually an allergic reaction to a parasite found in water. The parasite burrows into the skin and produces tiny bumps and blisters. It is not a serious condition and usually gets better within a week with simple home remedies. However, since it is an allergic reaction, repeated swimming in infected water can increase your sensitivity, which leads to worse symptoms.
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