What Causes Skin Rashes
What Causes Skin Rashes
Daniel Behroozan (Dermatologist) gives expert video advice on: What are common causes for skin rashes?; What is 'urticaria' or 'hives'?; What is 'irritant contact dermatitis'? and more...
What are common causes for skin rashes?
Skin Rashes can be caused by irritants, external irritants, allergans which can be external or internal, medications can cause Rashes, systemic problems and internal diseases can cause Skin Rashes and sometimes Skin Rashes are caused by changes in the weather or other factors that we can't often identify. So sometimes Skin Rashes are easy to diagnose and sometimes you have to see a patient several times to make a diagnosis because rashes can change from day to day, from week to week and from month to month. Some Skin Rashes are self-limited meaning they occur and they go away on their own and some Skin Rashes become chronic diseases that are not curable. They can often be controllable. Your dermatologist may choose to do a skin biopsy where they take a sample of your skin and send it to a pathologist who can look at the skin microscopically to help make a diagnosis. This is a simple in office procedure that takes less than five minutes to perform and can leave minimal scarring and can lead to very good information that can help in the diagnosis and treatment of your skin condition.
What is 'urticaria' or 'hives'?
Urticaria is commonly known as hives. In 70% of people that get hives, we often cannot find a cause for hives. In 30%, we can often find a condition that is either in the blood, a result of a hormonal imbalance, a result of a medication or allergen, or another cause such as an infection or an internal disease can cause it. But hives often occur without any reason. Foods can cause them, and oftentimes they recur even though you treat them.
What is 'irritant contact dermatitis'?
Irritant contact dermatitis is simply something that touches the skin or is in contact with the skin that causes an inflammatory reaction in the skin, and causes itching, swelling, or any change in the way the skin looks normally.
What is 'psoriasis'?
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory of the skin. It affects all ages, both sexes, and all races. It affects one to two percent of the US population. It can be a simple patch on the skin or it can affect entire surfaces of skin leading to a very disfiguring condition. In some people it's very short-lived and in most people it's a chronic condition where there's no cure. Typically, psoriasis is described as silvery, scaly plants, you often see it in the scalp, on the elbows, and knees. It can affect nails and is very simply treated with topical medications. When psoriasis starts to involve a very large body surface area, you often will need an oral medication, or an injectable biological medication that is inert, or sometimes treatment with ultraviolet light, to help improve the psoriasis. We do not have a cure.
Are there different types of psoriasis?
There are several different types of psoriasis, and different people might have two different manifestations of this disease on different parts of the body.
Is 'ringworm' a type of rash?
Ringworm can often be confused with a rash - even to your doctor. Sometimes a doctor will have to do a special test called a KOH test where they take a scraping of the skin and examine it under the microscope to see if a fungus is present or not.Generally speaking, fungal infections of the skin do not get better on their own. They have to be treated. If you don't treat a fungal infection of the skin, it often enlarges in size and gets itchier. Additionally, if you put a topical cortisone that is over the counter on a fungal infection, you will often make it worse.
What is 'shingles' or 'herpes zoster'?
Shingles is also known as herpes zoster. It's a reactivation of chicken pox that you had as a child, also known as vericella. The chicken pox virus lives in the nerves of your spinal cord. It never goes away. Your body's own immune system suppresses the virus so it doesn't show disease. Later on in life, when your immune system is not acting normally, or is suppressed, when you're older, or if you have some kind of immune deficiency, or in a time of extreme stress, or for no reason at all, that virus is able to escape your immune system. It overcomes your immune system, and it manifests itself in an often painful, linear distributed rash that can be anywhere on your body, that again is self limited often, as soon as your immune system is able to control that viral infection
Can my doctor do anything about shingles?
If you feel you have shingles, you should see your doctor, because there are antiviral medications can limit the duration of the disease and also limit any complications such as postherpetic neuralgia, which is a chronic pain syndrome resulting from damage to those nerve fibres by the virus. So it's very important if you have shingles to see your doctor to get treatment to prevent complications, especially if you're elderly. Additionally, if you have shingles, you are also contagious to people who have never had chicken pox. So if you're around children who have never had chicken pox, they can get chicken pox from shingles that you have, but they cannot get shingles from your shingles. Most of us who have had chicken pox, if we're around people who have shingles there's nothing to be worried about.
What is 'impetigo'?
Impetigo is a superficial infection of the skin that often does not cause constitutional symptoms in the patient. Meaning the patient often does not get sick feelings of fever, chills, nausea or vomiting. But the infection can expand and in children it can be very contagious. You should see a doctor for treatment either with an oral antibiotic or topical antibiotic or often a combination of both to prevent spreading within yourself or to other people.
What is a 'plantar wart'?
A plantar wart is a viral infection of the bottom of the feet, that's why they're called "plantar." And oftentimes a patient can go years without even knowing they're there, and they're very common. Sometimes plantar warts can hurt and sometimes they grow, that's why people seek treatment. Treatment of plantar warts is very simple; sometimes it's just obstructive. We may cauterize a lesion, sometimes freeze a lesion, sometimes even duct tape can help by keeping the lesion moist, or even occluding the virus so it can't get oxygen. Nobody really knows how it works, but it does work. Sometimes plantar warts are very difficult to treat and no matter what we do we can't get rid of them. They're certainly not dangerous, but they can be disfiguring - they're cosmetically unacceptable and if they grow - are painful, it's a problem. When we have those kinds of warts we will use a more aggressive way of treating them. Sometimes by injecting them with a chemical that makes them go away, injecting them with a chemical that may make our immune system more likely to fight the virus. Sometimes we'll use a topical medication that's called an immune modulator, that will help the immune system better recognize the virus. And sometimes we'll use a laser even, to help shrink the blood vessels that feed the virus and attempt to get rid of that wart.
What is 'hand, foot and mouth disease'?
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral infection, often seen in children, where you get small pinpoint blisters in the inside of the mouth, called bachulmeecosa, on the palm aspect of the hands and on the palmer aspect of the feet. It is often a self-limited disease and dissolves on its own.
What is a 'viral skin rash'?
A viral skin rash is a non-specific rash that is often red and blanchable and it can occur on a small part of the body but often occurs on a large portion of the body as a body's response to a viral infection elsewhere that is seen in the skin.Again, it is often self-limited and goes away when that virus is cleared by one's own immune system.
How is a herpes outbreak treated?
Your doctor can prescribe an anti-viral medication for you to take during an outbreak. Certainly, people who have numerous outbreaks a year, especially of the genital herpes variety, often need to be on a daily surpressive dose of anti-viral medication to decrease frequency of outbreaks and symptoms.