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Philadelphia and Mainline Center of Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery

Written by Dr. Ringpfeil

Rashes

The word rash is a general term that can refer to a variety of skin eruptions. The symptoms or lack thereof, the appearance of the rash, location and duration are useful in arriving at a diagnosis.

Is the rash itchy? Typically rashes associated with eczema (atopic dermatitis) and contact dermatitis are known for being very itchy. A classic example of a contact dermatitis is a rash from poison ivy. If you have ever had a rash from contact with poison ivy you know that itching is a predominant feature. Plants are not the only source of a contact dermatitis. You can get contact dermatitis from metals, particularly nickel, from cosmetics and even from some topical medications such as Neosporin Ointment or Bacitracin. Avoiding continued contact with the offending agent is key. Treatment usually involves use of a topical anti-inflammatory agent such as a steroid cream.

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is associated with a history of dry, sensitive skin. Often there is a personal or family history of asthma or seasonal allergies. Cleansing your skin gently with a soap free cleanser and moisturizing liberally and regularly are key to preventing eczema flares. When flares of itchy red areas on the skin do occur treatment with a topical steroid appropriate to the location on the body is often needed.

skin rash

Rashes for which itching is not a predominant feature include psoriasis, fungal infections and viral exanthems. Psoriasis presents with red patches with silvery scale typically on elbows and knees. While psoriasis on these locations usually does not itch, psoriasis on the scalp can be itchy. Psoriasis often has a hereditary component. Treatment is based on how much skin is involved and can include use of topical steroids and Vitamin D analogues, light treatments, oral or injectable medications.

Fungal skin infections commonly known as ringworm appear as a ring of scaly red skin. Sometimes little bumps can be present along the edge. Itching is often present but not intense. Sometimes a skin scraping has to be taken to confirm the diagnosis. The problem can usually be treated with a topical antifungal medication.

Viral exanthems are rashes caused by a systemic viral infection. They usually are not itchy. These rashes tend to resolve with time without the need of treatment.

Appearance is another important clue in identifying a rash. A poorly defined area of scaly red skin often suggests eczema (atopic dermatitis), well defined thickened scaly plaques suggest psoriasis, scaly ring-like lesions suggest a fungal infection, pus-filled bumps suggest a bacterial infection, small blisters can indicate a viral infection like fever blisters or shingles; insect bites or contact dermatitis. Of course this is just a sampling of the many ways a rash can present and less common causes also need to be considered.

The location on the body provides a valuable clue. Common sites for a fungal infection are the groin and the feet; psoriasis often affects the elbows, knees and scalp; eczema (atopic dermatitis) commonly involves the inside of the elbow and the area behind the knee in children; fever blisters occur on the lips; rashes brought on by the sun affect sun exposed areas of the skin; seborrheic dermatitis affects hair bearing areas, ears and face.

Duration of the rash is an identifying characteristic. New onset itchy rashes may indicate a contact dermatitis whereas rashes that have come and gone over a period of months or years would more likely denote atopic dermatitis, psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis.

These general guidelines can provide some clues to the diagnosis but rashes need to be seen and sometimes felt to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. It is recommended that you make an appointment with a trained skin care provider for assessment of your rash since different rashes can have a similar

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SKIN

# of surveys: 3977
Last updated: 11/10/2022 8:45 PM

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The doctor explained treatment options

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What WE DID WELL

(Answers:674)

The Dr. listened and was patient. I was nervous!

#12022-10-02

Dr. Ringpfeil took her time and was attentive to my concerns. Writing all options on paper was very helpful and will help me when I start my regimen

#22022-09-07

I felt the doctor really took the time to listen to me, as well as explain all of the important medical information.

#32022-08-04

You people are superb. The doctor and the assistant understand what they are doing. The doctor really talks like a professional - she knows it for sure.

#42022-07-07

NO COMMENT AT THIS TIME.

#52022-04-02

I especially liked the friendliness of the staff and doctor. Also, this office is beautiful. I've never seen a doctor's office that compares with this one.

#62022-02-28

Friendly, curteous service from all I was in contact with.

#72022-05-10

The friendlyness

#82022-04-27

Your neatness. The orange uniforms give a cheery, clean appearance to the practice.

#92021-12-16

Our chat about green building! Call me if you are interested in chatting more about greening your practice. Thanks for your wonderful care.

#102010-11-29 13:58:59

What can we do better?

(answers:373)

Cannot think of anyway to improve things, unless you want to serve hot tea and cappachino!

#12011-02-22 11:25:39

nothing

#22010-09-13 14:34:51

Magazines in the examining room to read while I waited for the doctor (I get bored easily).

#32022-01-06

The entire visit was just perfect so I had no suggestions at this time.

#42010-10-05 12:14:11

Just continue to be as thorough and caring as my experience today. Quite like a breath of fresh air!

#52022-05-22

When making a first appointment ask who ther person would like to see. Doctor vs Aesthetician

#62022-08-25

we are okay

#72022-07-17

can't think of anything

#82011-12-12 10:13:47

Good the way it is.

#92022-01-28

No comments at this time.

#102021-12-20

Customer Rating : 4.6

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