With the number of possible causes, conditions and diseases out there, it seems almost inevitable that you'll one day find yourself with inflamed, unhappy skin. Whether you contract poison oak on a day hike, have a reaction to that new medication you're taking or you pick up ringworm while working at the local cat shelter, there's no need to worry that your skin woes will remain forever. There are many treatment options, even if your rash is chronic:
- If you have a bacterial skin infection, you may be able to let it heal on its own, or you may need a doctor's attention. Some conditions, like intertrigo, can go away on their own if you practice good hygiene, keep the area dry and avoid tight clothing [source: Mayo Clinic]. But if you have a severe bacterial skin infection, you may need an antibiotic cream or other prescription medication [source: American Academy of Family Physicians].
- Fungal infections are usually treated with antifungal medications. Over-the-counter antifungal creams are available, but if you have a particularly difficult or persistent fungus, you may need prescription oral antifungal medications [source: American Academy of Dermatology].
- If you have a rash caused by a virus, the specific virus will determine the treatment. In general, when a virus is the cause, the symptoms of the rash are treated rather than the virus that causes it. For example, your doctor may suggest antihistamines or a topical anti-itch medication to help ease your itching [source: New Zealand Dermatological Society].
The bottom line is that although the skin does manage to protect itself quite well, there are hosts of potential invaders and irritants that can breach its defenses. If you have a rash, it's best to see your doctor so that he or she can identify the culprit, treat it and return your skin to good health.
For more information, follow the links below.
Related HowStuffworks Articles
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Fungal Infections of the Skin." (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/common_fungal.html
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Types of Eczema: Contact Dermatitis." (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.skincarephysicians.com/eczemanet/contact_dermatitis.html
- American Academy of Family Physicians. "Intertrigo." (Accessed 9/15/09) http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/skin/disorders/877.printerview.html
- Cleveland Clinic. "Common Rashes: Granuloma Annulare, Lichen Planus, and Pityriasis Rosea." (Accessed 9/15/09) http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/rash/ hic_common_rashes_granuloma_annulare_lichen_planus_and_pityriasis_rosea.aspx
- Cleveland Clinic. "Diaper Rash." (Accessed 9/15/09) http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/diaper_rash/hic_diaper_rash.aspx
- Cleveland Clinic. "Rashes/Red Skin." (Accessed 9/15/09) http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/rashes/derm_overview.aspx
- Kids' Health. "About Skin, Hair and Nails." (Accessed 9/15/09) http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body_basics/skin_hair_nails.html#
- Mayo Clinic. "Common Skin Rashes." Dec. 20, 2008. (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/skin-rash/SN00016
- Mayo Clinic. "Poison Ivy Rash: Treatments and Drugs." April 30, 2008. (Accessed 10/13/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/poison-ivy/DS00774/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs
- Mayo Clinic. "Psoriasis." April 10, 2009. (Accessed 10/13/09) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/psoriasis/DS00193
- Mayo Clinic. "Types of Dermatitis." April 25, 2008. (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dermatitis/DS00543
- Medline Plus. "Tinea Corporis." (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000877.htm
- National Eczema Association. "All About Atopic Dermatitis." (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.nationaleczema.org/living/all_about_atopic_dermatits.htm
- National Institute on Aging. "Shingles." (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/shingles.htm
- New Zealand Dermatological Society. "Exanthems." (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.dermnetnz.org/viral/exanthem.html
- WebMD. "Skin Conditions: Common Rashes." (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/common-rashes