Skin Rashes Pictures Care and Treatment

"Identifying the causes of skin rashes can be difficult since many types have similar symptoms. Body location and appearance may indicate probable causes. Localized itching or rash refers to a skin condition that occurs in specific area of the body, and is often the result of an insect bite or contact dermatitis (from something that came in contact with the skin). All over body itching which is referred to as a generalized skin condition is usually caused by some type of allergic reaction, which can be environmental or food.  Other common causes are some type of fungal or bacterial infection. Be sure to take note of accompanying symptoms such as lethargy (tiredness) and fever since these would indicate a problem that requires more immediate medical attention. This guide is not a replacement for medical care and should be used as a way of having an informed conversation with your physician."  

rash descriptions and picturesSkin rash caused by Ringworm (Tinea corporis) on arm. Symptoms are skin patches and scaling at the edge.

What is a Skin Rash?

A skin rash is a skin condition where the color, texture or appearance of skin changes. Rashes can appear as blotches, redness, lumps, bumps, welts or blisters. They can be red, scaly, dry or weepy.  They can appear in one skin location or multiple locations on the body. Some rashes come and go while others don't go away.

When To Seek Medical Attention

Video: How to Tell if Skin Rashes Need Medical Attention

American Academy of Dermatology video filled with rash pictures on when to see a Dermatologist or Doctor for skin rash.

Most rashes are not life-threatening however some may signal something more serious. See a Dermatologist if you have a rash with any of the following symptoms:

  • Rash all over the body: signals a rash that is due to an allergic reaction or infection.
  • Fever with rash: can be caused by allergic reaction or infection such as Scarlet fever, Measles, Mononucleosis or Shingles
  • Rash appears suddenly and spreads rapidly: Can be due to allergy to medications
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Rash has blisters or sores: can be the results of allergic reaction, internal cause. If blisters affect eyes, multiple areas in mouth or genitals go to your emergency room.
  • Painful rash: can be a sign of a serious problem
  • Infected rash: signs of infected rash are yellow or green fluid, swelling, crusting, pain and warmth in the area, red streak coming from the rash
  • Go to the emergency room if you have trouble breathing or swelling of the lips, tongue and throat

Categories of Skin Rashes

Some Common Categories of Skin Rash are:

Most rashes are not dangerous. This, however, does not mean doing your own diagnosis is a smart move, largely because you may make the wrong diagnosis and get the wrong treatment, which may aggravate the condition. 

If you have an infant, see our guide to baby skin rash or toddler rashes.

If you have a red scaly rash see our guide to rash diagnosis.

types of rashesTypes of Rashes that are non-itchy include Syphilis (shown on chest) and most cases of Pityriasis rosea (see picture below).

Flaking skin patches, not the result of infection

Flaking, itchy skin is also referred to as eczema or dermatitis. Some of the skin rashes found in this category are: 

Atopic Dermatitis

Video: Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema. The video contains treatment tips.

Typically hereditary. May affect children in the form of flaking scalp patches, peeling patches on legs, arms and the torso. This may progress in adulthood to patching on the whole body, around eyelids and on hands. 

Those with atopic dermatitis might have allergies, however, most cases are not in and of themselves allergic. Dermatitis is normally inflamed and very itchy and red with a weeping crust, but is not contagious. 


  • Hydrocortisone or Corticosteroids – 0.5% and 1% strength (OTC) or prescription strength per the doctor. Use only as directed to reduce thinning of the skin.
  • Severe rashes may use clobetasol (Temovate), triamcinolone (Triamcinolone) and fluocinonide (Lidex)
  • Nonsteroid creams tacrolimus (Protopic) or pimecrolimus (Elidel). Beware of safety concerns.
  • Keep the skin area moisturized so that it doesn't crack and fissure (very important).
  • Phototherapy light therapy treatments can help to control atopic dermatitis.

Contact Dermatitis

Literally, contact dermatitis refers to contact with materials that irritates the skin or causes a local allergy reaction. Examples include poison ivy or oak or metal allergies to nickel or lead. Mostly appears just in locations touched by reactive material.


  • Avoid material that caused reaction
  • OTC topical steroids such as 1% hydrocortisone
  • Severe rashes may use clobetasol (Temovate), triamcinolone (Triamcinolone) and fluocinonide (Lidex)
  • Non steroid creams tacrolimus (Protopic) or pimecrolimus (Elidel). Beware of safety concerns.
  • Prescription strength creams/lotions per your doctor
Large and Tiny Red Spots on Skin Caused by Psoriasis. Usually found on the elbows and knees, but can be found anywhere on the body. Shown here on the back.

Nummular Dermatitis

itchy skin rashItchy skin rash caused by Nummular Dermatitis

Nummular dermatitis causes a skin rash that usually appears after being injured by an insect bite, abrasion or burn. It can result in one skin patch or many.  It if seen more frequently in men age 55 to 65 years old.  Women are more prone to the condition during the teenage years.

It is a very itchy rash and may be covered with skin crusts or weeping.

Patches can last up to several weeks or months. Treatment involves steroidal topicals.

Other Causes

There are also three other fairly common body rashes not mentioned above including pityriasis rosea (scaly patches on back and chest), psoriasis (hereditary patching body-wide), xerosis (extremely dry skin).

Peeling skin patches, the result of fungal or bacterial infection

If you have an infection and also have a rash, the usual culprit is a bacterial or fungal infection.

Fungal Infections

Infections of this nature are not as frequent as skin rashes in the eczema category. One mistake made in the diagnosis of fungal infections is to call a scaly rash a fungus, when in fact it is usually eczema.

Common Fungal Infections:

  • Seborrheic dermatitis: Red patches and plaques.
  • Candida intertrigo: yeast infection with red rash, small skin lesions or papules surround rash area
  • Onychomycosis: nail fungal infections (treated with oral terbinafine)
  • Tinea

Candidal Intertrigo

candidal intertrigo skin rashFungal Skin Rash caused by Candidal intertrigo.

Candidal intertrigo are red plaques covered by a silver colored scale. The plaques are a sharply defined red rash.  The definition of intertrigo is inflammation of large skin folds.  10% of cases also have candida yeast.

Treated with Clotrimazole cream.

Seborrheic dermatitis

Skin Rashes on Face Caused by Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a reaction to a fungal yeast called Malassezia. It causes red skin patched (erythematous patches) common on the:

  • chest
  • ear canal
  • nose folds
  • eyelids
  • eyebrows
  • hairline
  • scalp


Tinea are fungal infections found on different parts of the body. They are all treated with prescription Clotrimazole or Miconazole cream.

  • Tinea pedis: redness and scaling between the toes
  • Tinea corporis (ringworm): scaly round patches
  • Tinea cruris: groin skin infection
Tinea pedis (fungal infection on the foot). Treated with a prescription Clotrimazole cream 2x daily for 4 weeks
Rash on Neck Caused by Ringworm. Treated with topical fungal cream for 2 or more weeks.

Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are a type of fungal infection that usually strikes in areas where there are skin folds and are often beet red with pustules. These kinds of infections have nothing to do with hygiene, are not easily transmitted and are not highly contagious.

Treatment: • Antifungal creams/lotions OTC

  • 1% clotrimazole (Mycelex, Lotrimin), 1% terbinafine (Lamisil)
  • For severe infections, prescription creams work well, such as econazole 1%, ketoconazole 2% (Nizoral)
  • If toenails are involved or the fungus is widespread, oral Lamisil
  • If treatment fails, consider an infection is a form of eczema requiring other treatment
skin rashesSkin Rashes due to yeast (also called tinea versicolor or pityriasis versicolor). As shown in the picture, the fungus caused scaly patches on the neck, back, and upper chest. Source: CDC, Dr. Lucille K. Georg

Bacterial Infections

The most common bacterial infection is impetigo, caused by strep or staph germs. This typically affects more kids than adults. Hygiene doesn’t cause this problem.

Common types include:


skin rash cellulitisSkin rash caused by cellulitis. Shown on the lower leg.

Cellulitis is one of the skin rashes that can form at the site of an injury or wound where bacteria can enter the skin. It is frequently seen as a lower leg skin rash.


Folliculitis is a bacterial infection in the hair follicles. It looks like a series of small red skin spots that have a diameter of under 5mm.  The bacterial cause is typically Staphyloccus aureus.

Treatment includes:

  • Cleaning the skin with a bacterial soap
  • Topical or oral anti-bacterial medications
pictures of skin rashesFolliculitis skin rash on buttocks. Can be seen in other areas of the body such as leg and chest.

Hot Tub Rash

A hot tub rash is due to germs that survive in the warm water of an improperly chlorinated hot tub or swimming pool.  The rash forms under the bathing suit and will go away on its own in several days.

Hot tub rash can be a form of folliculitis.


  • Bacitracin (Neosporin) while worth trying, is typically not effective
  • Prescription strength creams are usually required, such as Bactroban (mupirocin)
  • Oral antibiotics may also be needed, depending on the severity of the infection
skin rashesSkin Rashes caused by a secondary syphilis infection, which is a bacterial condition primarily spread through sexual contact. Skin rash can appear on one or several body areas. Rash primarily appears on the hands and bottoms of the feet, but can appear in other areas as shown here. Source: CDC


Impetigo skin rash caused by a bacterial infection. Treated with a topical therapy such as mupirocin.

Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection. It is usually seen in children (age 2 to 5) and is spread through close contact. The bacterial cause is usually Staph or Strep.

Red, itchy bumps or patches over the body, including chest and back

An episode like this is usually an allergic or viral response.

Viral Skin Rashes

Generally speaking, viral skin infections (e.g. shingles) are located in one part of the body. Viral skin rashes may be everywhere. People with viral skin rashes may have nausea, sneezing, and coughing. Viral rashes are generally self-limiting and fade away on their own in about a week.

skin rashesSkin Rashes due to shingles (also called herpes zoster). This skin rash can be painful and can last for several months or years. The condition is caused by a dormant chick pox virus. Source: CDC, Robert E. Sumpter


  • Relieve the itching
  • OTC itch creams/lotions
  • Prescription strength creams/lotions per your doctor
  • Antihistamines
  • Cool compresses
  • Warm sitz bath with oatmeal, baking soda or Epsom salts if tolerated

Rash due to an allergic reaction to medications

Allergic reactions may start within minutes to weeks after taking a drug. If it’s new, the doctor may suggest stopping the drug to determine the reaction. There is no definitive test to see if a rash is an allergic reaction or not. If it does not respond to stopping the drug, allergies are not usually to blame.


  • Relieve the itching
  • OTC itch creams/lotions
  • Prescription strength creams/lotions per your doctor
  • Antihistamines
  • Cool compresses Warm sitz bath with colloidal oatmeal, baking soda or Epsom salts if tolerated


One other common cause of skin rashes is hives, which the doctor may refer to as urticaria. They come and go and no one seems to be able to determine their cause. They happen to everyone at some point in their lives and appear in different locations on the body, although they do seem to love the neck and upper chest, groin, elbows and under breasts. 


  • Relieve the itching
  • OTC itch creams/lotions
  • Prescription strength creams/lotions per your doctor
  • Antihistamines
  • Cool compresses
  • Warm sitz bath with akoloidal oatmeal, baking soda or Epsom salts if tolerated
  • Calamine lotion
  • Honey paste

Heat, Humidity and Sun-Related Skin Rashes

Prickly heat rash occurs when individuals are exposed to outside heat and humidity levels that are higher than normal body temperature. In extreme heat the body sweat glands have difficulty with the cooling needs of the skin, resulting in a heat-related heat rash commonly referred to as prickly heat or miliaria. No treatment is necessary beyond staying out of the sun for an extended period of time. Avoid using creams that can clog the pores and reduce the efficiency of the body's sweat glands. Instead, if the itch is a problem, consider a oral medication such as an anti-histamine or a homoepathic remedy such as Skin Dr.

prickly heat rash picturesPrickly heat rash picture (also called Miliaria Crystallina) which requires no treatment other than staying in cool, dry places Source: U.S. Army; Dermatology Service, Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Other conditions that occur due to high heat and humidity (primarily in tropical climates) are Hypohidrosis syndrome (from excessive sweating such as in the face), Tropical Acne (sick feeling, occurs in individuals that had teen acne) and Cholinergic Urticaria (1mm to 3mm skin wheals).

skin rashesTropical Acne is characterized by large, inflamed and pus-filled blisters. Source: U.S. Army Dermatology Service

Chlorine Rash

Chlorine rash is due to an allergic reaction to the chlorine on the skin surface. It can cause hives, red skin, and itch.  The condition occurs more often in people that have long-term exposure such as lifeguards.

chlorine rash picturesChlorine rash pictures like this one show a condition called chlorine acne (Chloracne) where acne is caused by direct contact with chemicals such as chlorine compounds.


Symptoms may involve your whole body and involve scales, fungus, a viral vector or parasitic involvement. Each type of itch produces its own symptoms, but typically speaking, you will itch all over with a full body reaction.

For itching in just one of two spots on your body, you will experience the same or similar symptoms involved in whole body itching. There might be pain, weeping, redness, scaling, blistering or shingling, depending on the causes of your body itch.

See your doctor if you are experiencing any of the above signs or symptoms.


Diagnosis often begins with a visual examination, followed by a physical exam and questions to help the physician understand a possible reason for the itching. If there does not appear to be an infection or skin lesion of some sort, you may also have a skin biopsy, blood tests or x-rays.

Diagnosis of Red Scaly Rashes

non itchy rashNon-Itchy Rash Caused by Pityriasis rosea (PR) which is usually asymptomatic. Some people get flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, appetite loss, and swollen lymph nodes. Skin patches are salmon, purple, brown, or gray. Patches form "Christmas Tree" rash pattern when on the back.

For red scaly skin rashes a Doctor will usually follow the following procedure:

  • Do fungal test (called KOH) to determine if the cause is Tinea corporis (Ringworm).
  • If the test comes back negative, then a skin biopsy will indicate if the cause is Psoriasis.
  • Next, if not psoriasis, a Doctor will consider pityriasis rosea. This is a common skin disease that causes a rash that heals on its own without treatment in 6 to 8 weeks or longer.  Also Doctor will consider secondary Syphilis as a cause.
  • Other possible causes are steroid responsive:

    - Eczema
    - Medication reaction
    - Cutaneous lymphoma


Natural Treatment of Skin Rashes

Natural treatments are available that combine homeopathic ingredients to soothe the skin, helping to reduce irritation and the impulse to itch.  Products such as Chikkie Spot Soother use natural ingredients such as Marigold (soothes the skin), Witch hazel (cleansing, skin comfort, irritation),  Chickweed (soothing, in several commercial skin products),  Vervain (skin restoration), Lavender Essential Oil (skin balancing).

Emergency Treatment for Skin Rash

Try the two thumb test to as a guideline to see if a rash requires emergency treatment.  Take two thumbs and place into the rash.  Pull on the skin in opposite direction with thumbs.  If skin blanches or turns white in color, then rash in most cases is not an emergency.  If the skin stays red, then the rash requires at minimum a call to your Doctor.  Of course, if skin rashes are accompanied by high fever and lethargy, then call a Doctor.





Dermatology Rash Descriptions

Merck Manuals

Mayo Clinic Rash Descriptions

Rash Descriptions and Pictures


Florenti A. Hautemaniere A., Hartemann P. Health effects of disinfection by-products in chlorinated swimming pools. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2011 Nov;214(6):461-9 doi: 10.1016/j.ijeh.2011.07.012.Epub 2011 Sep. Review