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What are the Different Types of Rash Ointment?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Rash ointments can be broken into a number of different types, depending on what they are designed for and their availability. Some are available over-the-counter, while others only by prescription; they may be antibacterial, antiinflammatory, or antifungal, or simply moisturizing. It is important to purchase the right ointment for a rash. Using the wrong product could make a rash worse or result in no change. Many drugstores carry a variety of ointments in their skincare aisles and pharmacies, and a pharmacist can help a customer select the right product for a given rash.

The most broad way to divide these ointments is by prescription versus over-the-counter availability. Prescription ointments can only be obtained after a doctor examines the patient and writes a prescription. They tend to be stronger, and they may be the only products available to treat certain types of rashes. Usually a dermatologist or general practitioner writes the prescription. Over-the-counter drugs can be purchased freely, without any need for a doctor's visit.

Within these two classes, rash ointment can be antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, or anti-fungal in nature, designed to address specific causes of rashes. Other ointments are designed to resolve symptoms and side effects such as itching, dry skin, and irritation. Some ointments combine mixtures of both, such as a moisturizing anti-inflammatory rash ointment for eczema. There are also products designed for specific classes of rashes like psoriasis ointment, diaper rash cream, and eczema rash ointment. Some of these are available by prescription only to ensure that they are used appropriately.

For a rash of unknown origins, a generic rash ointment can be highly effective. People should discontinue use if the rash spreads or does not improve over several days. If there is a history of rashes, using an ointment that was effective in the past may resolve the issue. People with chronic conditions that lead to rashes may opt to keep prescription products on hand to treat rashes quickly when they arise on the advice of their dermatologists.

For some rashes, a doctor's visit is strongly advised. Rashes that persist or start to spread are a problem, as are rashes that crack, bleed, and seep. If a rash is extremely painful or has a strong odor, these are both signs that it is time for a visit to the doctor. When seeking medical attention, it is helpful to bring in containers of any medications used at home so that the doctor has an idea of what has not worked in terms of treatment.

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.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Calvin77 — On Aug 03, 2011

@tanner182 - That sounds like it might be an allergy to the dye in food. I have to avoid brightly colored food or I get rashes all over.

I know that a lot of kids eat brightly colored food, especially candies and sodas. Try buying food that doesn't have artificial dye in it. There are more and more brands that are trying to make more natural food.

Just like Jacques6 said, rashes that seem to come from your food can actually be allergies to food additives. Ask your allergist about it.

By Jacques6 — On Aug 03, 2011

@tanner182 - A lot of the allergy tests don't make sense. It must be something they didn't test on her. You can have more testing or just different testing done. Sometimes it's a food additive that is causing the rashes.

In the mean time, make sure that she uses ointments on her rashes. A rash on her stomach must be very uncomfortable and itchy -- so try a couple of natural ointments on it. If you use a ointment from the store, make sure that your read all of the ingredients.

By tanner182 — On Aug 02, 2011

My gets horrible rashes on her arms and stomach every time she eats. Her mom and I can't figure out what the cause is and she's been to the doctor several times with no luck.

The test they did were really weird. They did the needle test down her arm, but they used the same needle the whole time. We're taking her to another allergist for a better test, but she didn't react to the first one – despite it being sloppy.

I personally think that it is a food allergy, but she's been tested and the results were clean. Does anyone know about what might be causing this? We're all baffled.

By minthybear19 — On Aug 01, 2011

A lot of my rashes are cause by my allergies -- so I have to be careful what ointment I use. I usually make my own instead, then I know exactly what's in it. Lot of ointments you get in the store have dozens of ingredients – half of which you can't even pronounce!

My recipe is simple. I use half a cup of mango oil, a half cup of aloe vera, a couple drops of tea tree oil, a drop of peppermint oil and two teaspoons of water. Just heat it in a sauce pan on low and mix it thoroughly. Just dab it onto the rash. You can use as much as you like.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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