Skin Care Problems Rashes Irritation

Skin irritation is a general term that can refer to a number of skin problems, including lesions, redness and itchiness. Rashes, a specific type of skin irritation, describe any area of skin that is red, itchy and inflamed. Both general skin irritation and rashes can be caused by a number of factors. Similarly, each can vary in severity and in duration.

For example, while mild forms of skin irritation and rashes can last for a few days, serious cases of both can persist for weeks, causing debilitating pain.

Causes of Skin Irritation and Rashes

One of the primary functions of skin, the body’s largest organ, is to protect us from the sun, pollutants and other potentially harmful substances. Because it is constantly coming into contact with the elements, it is always at risk of encountering substances that will irritate it. Common causes of skin irritation include:

  • chemicals
  • detergents
  • dyes
  • extended duration in extremely hot or extremely cold weather
  • frequent washing
  • frequent contact with water
  • perfumes
  • pet dander
  • plants
  • soaps
  • synthetic fabrics.

In addition to the above causes, rashes specifically may also be caused by:

  • allergies
  • bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection
  • bug bites
  • hormonal fluctuations
  • medical conditions, such as eczema or Lyme disease
  • stress.

Symptoms of Skin Irritation and Rashes

Because both of these skin condition have such varied causes, the associated symptoms are also extremely diverse. Like other medical conditions, the symptoms a person will experience when he suffers from skin irritation or rashes will depend on the exact cause of the condition. Some of the most common symptoms associated with skin irritation and rashes include:

  • burning, tingling or stinging sensation
  • changes in skin’s texture
  • cracked skin
  • dry skin
  • flaky or scaly skin
  • pain
  • redness
  • small blisters
  • thickened skin.

Diagnosing Skin Irritation and Rashes

Getting the proper diagnosis for your rash relies on identifying the precise cause of the skin irritation. Once you and your doctor are able to identify what is causing your skin irritation, the proper course of treatment will be clear.

Seeing your doctor or dermatologist immediately after you recognize rash symptoms is essential to preventing further health complications and avoiding the spread of your condition to others. While your skin rash may not be contagious, seeing a medical expert is still essential to preventing the rash from spreading over your body and getting your health back on track.

When you go to see your doctor, he will ask you the following questions:

  • Are any of your family members or co-workers experiencing similar symptoms?
  • Do you suffer from any allergies that you know about?
  • Do you suffer from any non-allergy-related, chronic medical conditions, such as lupus?
  • Have there been any noticeable changes in your home or work environment recently?
  • Have you been under added stress recently?
  • Have you come into contact with a substance that you don’t usually handle?
  • Have you handled any chemicals recently?
  • Have you noticed any bug bites on your body recently?
  • Have you started a new shampoo, used a new soap or tried a new perfume in the last few days?

Your answers to these questions, as well as the appearance and location of the skin irritation, will help the doctor make a proper diagnosis.

Treatments for Skin Irritation and Rashes

Although the precise treatment you need for your irritated skin will rely on the exact cause of your condition, doctor generally recommend the following:

  • Bath, shower and wash with warm (not hot) water, so as not to shock or dry out the skin.
  • Gently dry skin, especially the affected area. Rubbing skin roughly will only irritate it further.
  • If you have identified the irritant (the substance that has caused the rash), stay away from it.
  • Make sure that your showers or baths are short. Prolonged contact with water will only further irritate the skin.
  • Moisturize the affected area multiple times each day, especially after washing, with a perfume-free, oil-free moisturizer.
  • Use a humidifier at home to re-moisturize the skin.
  • Use mild, perfume-free soaps.


LovetoKnow (updated May 22, 2006). Skin Irritation. Retrieved November 1, 2007 from the LovetoKnow Web site

Willow Springs Collection (n.d.). Skin Rashes. Retrieved November 1, 2007 from the Willow Springs Collection Web site