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How do I Treat a Skin Rash?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Skin rashes should always be treated as soon as they appear. A skin rash from any cause is usually itchy and many people start scratching before thinking about the damage they're doing. Scratching rashes is the worst thing to do because it often causes the rash to spread. In some cases, scratching can cause cracking in the skin and this can be painful and lead to infection. A moisturizing cream such as aloe vera lotion applied to the rash may help relieve itchiness until a person with a rash can get medication prescribed by a doctor.

Natural remedies that may help prevent the itching of rashes include soaking in a barely warm, not hot, bath with about 3 cups (500 ml) of baking soda added. Baking soda and cool water may also be made into a thick paste to apply directly to the skin rash. Some people find that a coating of olive oil on the rash helps decrease the desire to scratch it. Natural treatments shouldn’t replace going to a dermatologist, or skin specialist, as soon as possible to find out what is causing the rash.

Many dermatologists recommend keeping skin rashes moisturized with lotions — especially after a bath or a shower. Scented lotions should be avoided since they may further irritate a skin problem. Moisturizing creams and lotions made for sensitive skin may help. Soaps or creams containing coal tar or pine tar may help relieve the itchiness of a rash.

A dermatologist may prescribe a corticosteroid cream to use on some types of skin rashes. Cortisone is an artificially produced hormone made to supplement the low levels of natural hormones called adrenal cortex that people with skin problems usually have. Adrenal cortex hormones naturally prevent rashes and itching. Cortisone rash treatment cream is made to use short term — usually up to a month.

Besides lotions and creams, a dermatologist may prescribe phototherapy or oral medications to treat a rash. Phototherapy is used mainly for skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema and it helps to kill cells that spread rashes. Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is an extremely itchy skin disease of dry, red patches that usually begins in early childhood, while psoriasis is a common skin disease that causes dry, scaly red rashes mostly on the scalp and lower body. In phototherapy, the skin is exposed to ultra violet (UV) light. The treatment may cause side effects such as nausea, and phototherapy isn't usually used long term as it may increase the risk for skin cancer.

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Discussion Comments
By anon334316 — On May 11, 2013

@Post no. 4: I have exactly the same thing as you do, except I don't have it on the back of my hand, but I do have it on my forearm and splotches on my neck. It started about a week and a half ago. So far, I have changed soaps to ones that doesn't have detergents, such as Ivory, so that everything is clean. At night, I use a small towel while in the shower to try and gently scrub off the top layer of the rash to drain out any liquid and let it breath when dry. Don't scrub too crazy though; just enough so that you feel like it's "new" (I rub it about 5-10 times, feels good too, because you're scratching it at the same time).

This is what I'm going to do tonight. I just bought some calamine lotion and I'm going to test that out, along with pure aloe vera gel. Lotion on the left and gel on the right to see which one has better results, if any.

I noticed when I scrub in the shower with a hand towel, the next day it seems to go away a little. Also try drinking warm water with lemon juice (about a quarter to half a lemon, depending on your sourness preference) and honey (raw and unfiltered is the better) when you wake up and before sleep. It'll help cleanse the system.

Just some alternatives if it doesn't work. I'm still trying to find out ways to clear this crazy rash up. Scratching my thigh in class all the time makes me look like a perv. Good Luck

P.S. - You can also try honey (again, raw and unfiltered) or coconut oil or avocado oil or a mixture of it and put it on your skin as they do have healing properties. I haven't tried them yet because I thought it was my diet, but since I'm itchy all the time now, I'll give it a go.

By anon333761 — On May 07, 2013

I recently developed a strange rash on my legs that later spread to my arms, tops of my hands, and now my chest and neck. They are small red bumps, some clumped together, that itch something awful. I've been taking Benadryl and applying Cortizone cream to stop the itch (which doesn't help much) as well as try to get it to clear up.

So far, nothing has proved helpful. Some days it will look as though it is clearing up, and others, the rash is inflamed and itchy to the point of skin tearing (exaggeration). I am trying an Aveeno Oatmeal Bath Treatment tonight but I need to find out what this is and how to completely get rid of it as it is very uncomfortable. And I need to shave my legs.

If anyone has any advice, or knows what this might be, please let me know! I'm desperate. Small (some the size of pencil led) red bumps on my legs (all the way up to my inner thigh) arms, tops of hands, and now chest and neck. And there are some days my lower stomach itches as well. Please. Help!

By lightning88 — On Nov 06, 2010

Is is possible to have a rash under your skin? I've had this rash on my legs for a few months now that seems to come and go, but mostly seems to lurk under the top layer of my skin.

When I apply treatments to the skin, it clears up almost immediately, but I can still feel it under my skin. Which rash could this be? Or do you think it's some kind of fungal infection?

I am really desperate to know how to get rid of this, because it's so itchy and uncomfortable. And also a little scary, since I'm worried that I'll never be able to fully get it out of my skin.

What should I do?

By pleats — On Nov 06, 2010

What would you say would be the best way to treat a skin rash on the back? I have somehow picked up a small white pustuled skin rash on my back (I have absolutely no idea how!), and I'm having a really hard time shaking it.

I've washed all my clothes a few times, so I know it can't be caused by something that got onto them, and I try to keep the area very clean and ventilated, but I just can't shake it.

Do you know of any good treatments for a skin rash on the back, and how I can apply treatments in such an inconvenient spot like that? This is really turning into a drag, and I'd like to get it cleared up as soon as possible.

By rallenwriter — On Nov 06, 2010

I've always found that the best cure for a dry skin rash is a good, old-fashioned oatmeal bath.

This is particularly effective for a widespread rash on the skin, and can be a good moisturizer even for normal skin.

It's really easy to do. All you have to do is to take about half a cup of dry oatmeal and grind it into a fine powder.

Then you start your bath -- make sure it's lukewarm, not hot! -- and pour the oatmeal under the stream of water. This makes sure that you get a good distribution throughout your bath, and that it doesn't all just sink to the bottom at once.

Then get into the bath, and let yourself soak. Every few minutes you can scoop up some of the bathwater in a cup and let it run over your shoulders and down your back.

This is my go-to treatment for full body skin rashes, especially those caused by dry skin. So before you shell out for a fancy skin cream, consider taking an oatmeal bath -- you might be surprised how well it works.

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