Rashes are usually a sign of an allergic reaction, but sometimes they can be caused by diseases or other issues. As a top dermatologist practicing in Norfolk, Virginia and the surrounding area, Jonathan Schreiber, MD, PhD has extensive experience diagnosing the cause of rashes and providing appropriate, effective care. Call Integrated Dermatology of Tidewater today to schedule an appointment or use the online booking tool.
Most rashes occur as part of an allergic reaction to plants, foods, detergents, soaps, medications or other triggers. The trigger causes an abnormal reaction in the immune system which in turn causes a rash.
Other rashes occur as a result of a yeast or fungal infection or as a side effect or symptom of an underlying disease such as Lyme disease, cancer, kidney, or liver disease. Bacterial infections like impetigo can also cause rashes, and so can a viral infection known as shingles. Chronic skin conditions like eczema and rosacea can also be the cause of rashes.
In some cases, the cause of a rash can be determined from a visual exam combined with a patient history and a review of what the patient was doing just before the rash appeared. It's also important to provide the doctor with a list of medications to rule out potential medication-related allergies.
Some rashes require more in-depth evaluations that may include blood work or biopsies, tiny skin samples that can be evaluated under a microscope. When an allergy is suspected, allergy testing can help identify the substances (allergens) responsible for the rash.
When a rash is related to an underlying disease, treatment will focus on addressing that disease in order to relieve the rash. Likewise, if a medication is causing the rash, an alternative medication will need to be prescribed. Rashes that are due to allergic reactions – the most common cause of rashes – can be treated with topical medications aimed at reducing the skin reaction and relieving symptoms. For more serious rashes, oral medications may also be prescribed to treat the allergy systemically. Moisturizers and cool compresses may also help reduce the symptoms of some types of rashes.
While some mild rashes like a very mild poison ivy rash may resolve on their own, other persistent rashes can be a sign of a serious underlying condition. Seeing a dermatologist for persistent or recurrent rashes or rashes that are accompanied by swelling or fever is important for preventing serious complications.