"Rash" is a general term for a wide variety of skin conditions. A rash refers to a change that affects the skin and usually appears as a red patch or small bumps or blisters on the skin. The majority of rashes are harmless and can be treated effectively with over-the-counter anti-itch creams, antihistamines and moisturizing lotions.

Rashes can be a symptom for other skin problems. The most prevalent of these are:

  • Atopic Dermatitis, the most common form of eczema.
  • Drug Eruptions
  • Bacterial Infections, such as impetigo.
  • Contact Dermatitis, a type of eczema caused by coming into contact with an allergen.
  • Chronic skin problems, such as acne, psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Fungal Infections, such as ringworm and yeast infection.
  • Viral Infections, such as shingles.

A rash may be a sign of a more serious illness, such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, liver disease, kidney disease or some types of cancers. If you experience a rash that does not go away on its own after a few weeks, make an appointment to see one of our dermatologists to have it properly diagnosed and treated.

Contact Allergy Testing

When rashes are felt to be due to an allergy, contact allergy testing may be done. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when allergy-causing substances touch the skin. Contact dermatitis can be hard to tell apart from non-allergic rashes. Often you will need allergy skin tests called patch tests. Patch tests are a way to detect contact allergies. We offer a more extensive set of tests than is usual using the North American Patch Test series.

In patch tests, small amounts of suspected allergens are placed in a series of small strips of chambers and taped to one's back. These strips are removed after 48 hours. A red spot at the site of the patch may indicate an allergy.

Dr. Gerald Newman is a member of the American Contact Dermatitis Society.