One of the primary challenges in monitoring your own health is that many conditions have symptoms that are hard to detect, or they may have no symptoms at all. That’s where skin conditions are unique, because in many cases, you can see the symptoms with your own eyes.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to interpret every skin symptom when it appears, though. To help you better understand your skin, our experienced providers at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta are featuring a different skin condition each month. This month, we’re highlighting one of the most noticeable skin issues: rashes.
What Are Rashes?
“Rash” is actually a very general term that refers to an area of irritated skin. Each rash has its own characteristics and symptoms. It may be red and inflamed, swollen, itchy, painful, scaly, blistered, or a combination of symptoms. Some rashes are bumpy while others are flat.
What Causes Rashes?
Just as there are many types of rashes, there are countless potential causes for a rash too. Some rashes are caused by contact with an irritant or an allergen. Your skin doesn’t need to contact the allergen; even eating something you’re allergic to, for example, can spark a rash. Rashes can also come from skin infections or from chronic skin conditions. A rash could even be a sign of an underlying health condition like lupus.
Generally, the most common types and causes of rashes include:
- Contact dermatitis
- Atopic dermatitis
- Obstructed sweat (causing a heat rash)
- Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
- Insect bites or stings
- Food or drug allergies
- Seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff
Why Are Rashes a Problem?
Many people see rashes as common problems that will go away on their own with little or no treatment. That may be true if your rash is caused by a temporary circumstance with no lasting effects, such as a heat rash. Some rashes, though, are warning signs from your body. For example, shingles create a rash as one of the earliest symptoms, and it can result in long-term nerve damage if you don’t get treatment right away. There is no way to know whether your rash is a cause for concern without medical care.
Of course, on top of the potential for underlying health issues, rashes are uncomfortable. Some may be contagious, and many are itchy or painful enough to affect your day-to-day life. This alone is enough of a reason to seek treatment rather than waiting for the rash to resolve on its own.
What to Do if You Have a Rash
If you have a rash, it’s important to schedule a dermatology appointment promptly to determine what your rash is and treat it accordingly, or to refer you to another specialist if necessary. Dermatology Associates of Atlanta’s exceptional team of board-certified dermatologists and physician assistants are often able to accommodate short-notice appointments for rashes and other sudden skin issues.
Remember to follow Dermatology Associates of Atlanta on Facebook and Instagram for more skin health tips. Keep an eye out for new installments of our “Skin Health Highlight” series each month on our blog as well.