Rash 101: Common Types of Skin Rashes

A woman scratches an itchy rash on her arm.
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Skin rashes can signal anything from an allergic reaction to a plant or medication to more serious medical emergencies like meningococcemia or toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

Rashes don’t fall under the specific domain of “diseases.” Instead, they are categorized as a sort of “irritant”. When the skin gets inflamed, discolored, or develops anything that seems abnormal as compared to what skin should look like, the affected area is labeled into a broad and sweeping category of “rashes”. Identifying and understanding the variety of rashes leads to better treatment and better care.

While over the counter drugs are sometimes all that it takes to soothe a rash and neutralize the irritation, if the condition persists for more than a couple of days, then going to the nearest urgent care center is necessary.

Fungal, bacterial, and viral are some of the different forms of rashes that can cause inflammation, irritation, blistering or even bumpy and discolored skin. Below are some of the commonly prevalent forms of rashes that are non-infectious that might require urgent medical attention.

Seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is highly common and occurs primarily among adults, causing redness and scaling on parts of the skin. Highly vulnerable areas for this type of rash include cheeks, brows and the scalp, while sometimes the forehead and ears might get affected as well.


Eczema often occurs at the onset of puberty and persists until adulthood in sporadic episodes. If proper care is not taken, it might be carried well into adulthood. While there is redness here on the rashes as well, eczema also causes the skin to itch and burn, leaving a tingling sensation on the cheeks, ankles, neck and sometimes on the elbows and inner knees.

Contact dermatitis

This one is highly different from other forms of rashes as it often looks oozy and squishy due to the skin reacting to allergens and irritants. If you have a rash that appears like this on any part of your body, it could indicate allergies or contact dermatitis. Primarily caused by irritating plants like Poison Oak or Poison Ivy, it can even occur with normal household cleaning agents present in things like laundry detergents, soaps, and other chemicals.

To avoid contact dermatitis, wear gloves and long shirts when using any kind of household cleaners, and be wary of irritating plants when you’re outdoors.


Often highly irritating due to the persistent itching they cause, mild hives don’t normally last long as they usually resolve on their own in around 8-10 hours of appearing on the skin. Hives can also occur as a side effect of some medications and drugs that a person might have taken.

Heat Rashes

Sometimes, the skin reacts to the weather and rashes might occur as a result. Heat rashes appear when a person is persistently sweating in hot and humid weather, and sweat pores get clogged causing small pimples that are often tucked in very close together.

They appear on the top of the back, upper chest and neck regions primarily, but if the person is not moved to a cooler area, they could start appearing in other areas of the body as well.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections are a more serious form of rashes and might cause the person to require urgent medical attention. Bacterial infection rashes are often accompanied by pus that causes pain and a huge amount of discomfort. Common types of bacterial infections include impetigo and folliculitis.

Diagnosing different forms of rashes is sometimes quite difficult, and may require an expert at a urgent medical care center. More severe rashes might be symptoms of other diseases like scarlet fever and may indicate a serious medical emergency that needs immediate attention. Always consult a trained medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment for rashes that are unfamiliar and painful.

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