Is My Spreading Skin Redness a Rash?

Do you have redness on your skin that is spreading? Are you running a fever? Does your rash have blisters? Is your rash over your entire body? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have a rash that is caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungus. A rash is an area of redness on an individual’s skin, with or without raised lesions, that spreads and is a direct result of an illness. Outbreaks can occur for a variety of reasons. They are the symptoms of a viral illness, a bacterial infection, or a fungus. Depending on the cause, rashes can be contagious. Some rashes affect one area of a person’s skin, while other rashes affect the entire body. Some rashes can be itchy, while others can be painful. Rashes can develop in anyone and can be for any reason; some are never determined why they occurred.

Common Rash Symptoms

Symptoms of rash can be broad and varied. Some are an angry red color while others are pink to barely red hue. Some are widespread dots over the entire body, and yet others are confined to one area. The characteristics of the rash can be fluid filled blisters, red round raised areas, flat pinpoint dots, mild redness that spreads, and some are just itchy.

Common Rash Symptoms Include:

  • Skin redness
  • Broken red skin
  • Blisters
  • Itching
  • Dry skin
  • Pinpoint dots
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

Who is at Risk for a Rash?

Most anyone is at risk for a rash. If you come into contact with an individual who is sick with a viral illness, you may develop a rash. If you cut your skin on something and bacteria invaded the area, you may develop a rash. If you have an area of skin that was moist and then develop redness and pain, you may develop a rash. Both children and adults of both genders are at risk for rash. Children are more likely to get viral rashes from illnesses such as chicken pox, measles, Fifth Disease, and Hand, Foot, Mouth disease. Babies can develop diaper rash from the moistness of being in a diaper, and a fungal outbreak can occur. Adults are more likely to develop rashes from illnesses such as shingles, cellulitis, and scabies. Anyone at any time can develop a rash from an allergy or to medication as well.

What Will My Doctor Ask Me?

Your doctor is going to ask you all kinds of questions. He/she is going to want to know if you have been traveling anywhere in the US or outside the country. You will also be asked if you have come into contact with anyone who was recently ill. He/she will ask if you have eaten any new foods or started any new medications. Other questions that may be asked are:

  • If you are currently up-to-date on your immunizations
  • When did you notice the rash?
  • How long have you had the rash?
  • Is the rash spreading?
  • Are you running a fever?
  • Does your rash have blister like lesions? If so, are they weeping? Have they crusted over?
  • Did you have any other symptoms before the rash started?

How Do I Treat My Rash?

Your doctor will treat your rash based on the cause of the outbreak. Since rashes can be from viral, bacterial, and fungal causes, you may be placed on medication, an antibiotic, or nothing at all. In all cases, your doctor ill treat your symptoms and try to make you as comfortable as possible.

Viral Treatment of Rash

If your rash is determined to be from a virus, you will not be prescribed an antibiotic. If your rash is from the herpes simplex virus or the varicella-zoster virus, you most likely will be prescribed an antiviral medication such as acyclovir. This is an oral medication that will assist in decreasing the symptoms you are experiencing.

If your child develops a rash from Hand, Foot, Mouth disease, or other viral childhood diseases, the rash will resolve on its own, and you will be provided with symptomatic treatment such as:

  • Measured to prevent itching (calamine lotion, antihistamines such as Benadryl)
  • Fever reducers such as Tylenol and Motrin

Bacterial Treatment of Rash

Not a lot of rashes are due to a bacteria, but one of the most common is cellulitis or an infection of the skin due to a break in the skin where bacteria then entered. Cellulitis, if not caught early, and treated properly, can progress rapidly and cause serious effects such as blood poisoning (sepsis).

Your doctor will place you on an antibiotic such as Keflex, Augmentin, or Zithromax to kill the bacteria in your skin. Other symptomatic treatment your doctor will recommend include:

  • Elevation of the extremity
  • Application of a warm compress to the area four times a day
  • Keep the extremity immobile (use it as little as possible until the infection resolves)

Fungal Treatment of Rash

Fungus likes dark, moist, warm areas. They thrive on places like the diaper area in babies. They also can occur in between skin areas that touch such as folds in skin (stomach), under breasts, buttocks, toes, and in armpits. If your doctor determines your rash is due to a fungus, he/she will start you on an antifungal such as Nystatin or Lotrimin. Once the fungus has resolved, your doctor may recommend you use an absorbent powder to keep moisture to a minimum.

What Do I Need to Know About Rashes? – Patient Education

  • Outbreaks are common in childhood, most are viral and resolve on their own
  • Cellulitis can progress rapidly and needs to be monitored carefully
  • Try not to scratch your itchy, rash. You can scratch too much you cause the skin to break open and could cause a bacterial infection
  • Do not give a child with a rash and a fever aspirin as there is a risk of the child developing Reye’s Syndrome
  • As with all illness, proper handwashing is recommended as some rashes are contagious

Emergency Warning Signs/When to Follow Up

  • If you have been diagnosed with cellulitis, follow up with your primary care provider in twenty-four to forty-eight hours for evaluation
  • A rash that is widespread over your body with many other symptoms needs to have emergent evaluation to catch serious diseases easily such as toxic shock syndrome, meningococcemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and necrotizing fasciitis

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Carefree M.D. is a safe, secure and reliable way to receive a medical consulation or prescription for your rash online. We connect you via webcam* or phone with a local board certified doctor.

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