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Self-Care for Skin Rashes

A rash is your skin’s reaction to a substance your body is sensitive to. Most rashes can be treated at home by keeping the skin clean and dry. But some rashes may be signs of a more serious problem. Call your doctor if you notice other symptoms with your rash, or if the rash is getting worse.

Common Causes of Rashes

  • Too much exposure to the sun

  • An allergic reaction to a food (shrimp), plant (poison ivy), or chemical (strong detergent)

  • An infection caused by a fungus (ringworm), virus (chickenpox), or bacteria (strep)

  • Bites or infestation due to insects or pests, such as ticks, lice, or mites

Control Itching and Skin Damage

  • Take soothing baths. Try 1 cup of oatmeal or baking soda in a tub of warm water.

  • Do your best not to scratch. And clip your fingernails to reduce skin damage if you do scratch.

Keep Your Skin Clean and Dry

  • Wash with mild, nonirritating soap and warm water.

  • Wear clothing that breathes, such as cotton shirts or canvas shoes.

  • If fluid is seeping from the rash, cover it loosely with clean gauze to absorb the discharge.

  • Many rashes are contagious. Prevent the rash from spreading to others by not sharing towels.

Use Medication

  • Take antihistamines to block your body’s reaction to the substance causing the rash.

  • Use hydrocortisone cream on small rashes to reduce swelling and redness.

  • Use antifungal medications to treat athlete’s foot and other fungal infections.

Check With Your Pharmacist If:

  • You have a red, itchy rash between the toes.

  • You have crusty sores that aren’t spreading.

  • You have an itchy, red ring about an inch wide (a sign of ringworm).

  • You see tiny, light-gray eggs on body hairs, lice on skin or clothing, bite marks, or small burrow marks under the skin.

Call 911 If:

  • Your tongue or lips start to swell.

  • You have difficulty breathing.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • You have a temperature over 101.0°F.

  • You have a sore throat, a cough, or unusual fatigue.

  • You have an increasingly red, oozy, or painful rash (signs of infection).

  • You have a rash that covers your face, genitals, or most of your body.

  • You have crusty sores or red rings that begin to spread.

  • You have a red bull’s-eye rash with a white center (a sign of Lyme disease).

 

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