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What are Some Causes of Rashes?

By Garry Crystal
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A rash appearing anywhere on the skin is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. The condition may take many forms. It may appear as a cluster of red dots or as a large patch covering the skin. The area can be sore, itchy, or stinging, or have no pain at all. Rashes come in all shapes and sizes, and there are as many causes as there are different conditions.

Rashes can also occur anywhere on the body. Very common areas are the face, arms and back. They can also appear in the genital area, on the scalp under the hair, and across the torso. Headaches and an unspecified feeling of illness may accompany the condition.

One of the main causes of hives or welts is common allergies. Many people are affected with numerous allergies. They can be food related or they may simply be triggered by sitting too close to a household pet. The allergy may run throughout the body’s system and show itself as an eruption on the skin.

Rashes may also be set off by something that you have touched. Many different plants can cause irritation to appear on the skin. The poison ivy plant is well known for covering the body in welts. Many common household detergents may cause hives simply by exposing the skin to them.

The types of allergies suffered by people today are diverse. Modern conditions such as air pollution and the chemicals that are present in fragrances, sunscreens, hair products, and cosmetics can all bring on allergies. Rashes can also appear due to the body’s intolerance to certain fabrics.

Recently, a new condition called latex allergy has appeared. People who are allergic to latex can have serious problems if they have to go into surgery. Allergic reactions can be seen on open wounds or body parts on which the surgeon is operating due to an allergic reaction to the latex gloves worn by the surgeon.

Rashes may also appear as a symptom of infection. This may be a common infection such as chicken pox, athlete’s foot, or yeast infection. Viral infections can also cause irritated skin, as can sexually transmitted diseases.

The body may also become infected with some type of parasite. If the body becomes infected with worms or scabies, then a rash will usually appear. These types of irritations can be incredibly itchy, and scratching will only make the problem worse. Scratching will also trap the parasite under the nail. If the nails are then placed in the mouth, the parasite will re-infect the body and the cycle will repeat itself.

Some conditions are incredibly difficult for a doctor to diagnose. A full history of the sufferer’s lifestyle must often be taken into account. Skin tests may also be necessary in order to diagnose allergic reactions.

The treatment available for a rash is varied. Many conditions can be treated with creams such as cortisone, provided they are not infected. If the problem continues, then it may be a symptom of something more serious.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon969698 — On Sep 12, 2014

I don't have any allergies, now suddenly i am experiencing having rashes all over my body.

By anon344019 — On Aug 05, 2013

For the past four months, I've been getting a rash that can be like all bumps or welts -- anywhere there has been pressure on skin. I've had it on both forearms, stomach and upper thigh. It can be hot to the touch, itchy or nothing. I have recently quit smoking after four years, and I've noticed it's not related, because I got rashes off and on before I quit. Only now I feel like crap.

I have a panic disorder, am disabled and stressed, but this is a first for me. Also, I can go two days without a rash or every day. I've checked everything, and haven't changed anything so I'm at a loss here. I'm a 36 year old female and that's my story.

By anon328448 — On Apr 03, 2013

Should I call in sick to work if I have a big rash on my hand?

By anon327010 — On Mar 25, 2013

I get rashes and have to take a shower to cool off. I have tried using calamine lotion too.

By anon325817 — On Mar 18, 2013

I have bad, itchy, burning areas on the inside of palms of my hands. I have worked for the TSA for five years and never had a problem with the blue latex gloves. Then this year the gloves are thinner, maybe being made by another company. They are probably making these gloves with substances that they should not. Is anyone else having these issues from TSA?

By anon322329 — On Feb 27, 2013

I don't understand what is happening with my skin. I am getting red, small, itchy dots on my arms, legs and on my stomach only in the evenings.

I went to a general physician, he gave me some antihistamines and a lotion to apply. After applying that, it goes away after about one hour. The next morning, I am totally rash free, but again in the evening, these red dots come back again and I have redness on the skin of my hands. This has been going on for the past three years.

By anon299027 — On Oct 23, 2012

When my son eats, the area around his eyes will turn red like a rash and then the rash will go away.

By anon256635 — On Mar 22, 2012

My granddaughter keeps getting a rash on her pubic area. Her mother explains it as being allergic to the new body wash. This is the second time in three months that the rash has appeared. It goes away within a day and the child does not break out anywhere but that one area. Can body wash cause a rash just in one place? Should not she break out all over, if indeed it is allergic reaction to the soap?

By amita948 — On Mar 11, 2012

I have a case of a woman with a sporadic rash on her body. Fever appeared after the rash and lasted for one day. Everything else is negative.

She is a smoker, young and has had multiple sexual partners. with unprotected sex. She also has nasal congestion. What do you think?

By anon248901 — On Feb 19, 2012

I am 16 years old and I've started to get chest hair, but my chest is very itchy. Is the hair causing the itch?

By anon107077 — On Aug 28, 2010

I just had shoulder surgery, have an allergy (severe hives/itching/rash) to codeine, so they prescribed percocet. Due to the severe pain, I had to double up and it started causing me similar itching problems, so I compensated by taking double doses of Benadryl.

I have now completely stopped taking both meds and am now getting a terrible rash on the injured arm and under my armpit, along with cold sweats and diarrhea. Should I be worried?

By anon28365 — On Mar 15, 2009

My boyfriend keeps getting a rash on his fingers and hand, but we can't figure out what it is. He's not eating anything he's allergic to or anything like that.

By anon27567 — On Mar 02, 2009

If you get bumps when you're hot you may have Cholinergic urticaria which are red splotches with bumps in the middle and they itch like crazy. They're more intense the hotter you get, the more your clothes rub them or esp. if you scratch at them.

By mexicana — On Mar 31, 2008

Don't forget about heat rash - I used to get that when I was a kid on really hot days and my mom would have to wipe my arms and legs with rubbing alcohol to cool me down.

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