An unexpected rash is always worrisome, especially if it is accompanied by uncomfortable itching, soreness, or cracked skin. Fortunately, there are common sets of symptoms you can look for that can help you narrow down the likely causes of the rash. Here are the signs and symptoms of four common skin conditions.
Eczema is typically thought to be the by-product of an overactive immune system response to skin irritants. Typically, the first symptom of eczema is itching that is present before any signs of a rash appear. This itching can either be severe, or so subtle that you hardly notice it until you see a rash.
When eczema rashes do appear, they are typically located on your face and neck, or the creases of your hands, elbows, or knees. The skin that is affected by eczema will get thick and scaly, and may feel hot to the touch. In severe cases, the skin can weep and develop open sores that create a risk of infection. While there is currently no permanent cure for eczema, there are several topical ointments that your dermatologist can recommend to give you relief during flare-ups.
Hives are the result of capillaries in your skin responding to histamine. Histamine is a protein that your body releases during allergic reactions to bee stings, nettles or other irritants. When your capillaries come in contact with histamine, they leak fluid that pools in small pustules on the surface of the skin, creating a raised, bumpy rash.
While hives often cause a mild to moderate amount of itching, swelling, and maybe even slight soreness, they are not contagious and usually cause no significant health problems. They are simply an indicator that your body's immune response is functioning correctly to protect your skin from irritating allergens. However, it is important to see your dermatologist if you ever have hives lasting more than six weeks, as chronic hives can begin to damage your lungs, intestines and other organs.
The red, sore, and itchy spots that are caused by psoriasis are formed when patches of your skin cells begin to reproduce too quickly. This causes skin cells to pile up, creating scaly lesions known as plaques. Plaques can form on your elbows, scalp, lower back, and joints, creating painful sensations when these areas are touched depending on their severity.
In the most severe cases, psoriasis can cause soreness and swelling in your joints, and cracking and bleeding in the skin around the joints. This condition is known as psoriatic arthritis, and it is important to see your dermatologist for treatment before it progresses too far. While skin care with lotion and topical ointment is a good first step, there are several other treatments such as systemics, phototherapy, and biologic drugs that can provide excellent results.
Rosacea is a term for skin redness and irritation that many people are familiar with. The most common symptoms that are associated with rosacea are redness and blushing around the nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead. There will also often be bumps and pimples around the affected area, as well as visible blood vessels.
Rosacea will often flare up in response to certain specific activities like high humidity, exercise, and hot or spicy food. In severe cases, rosacea can lead to significant vision problems such as swelling, sties or cysts on the eyelid that necessitate professional treatment and careful management of the condition.
With more information on the signs and symptoms of common skin conditions, you can save yourself the panic and anxiety that comes with finding an unexpected rash. However, you should remember that having a professional dermatologist checkup will always be the best way to diagnose your condition.