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What Are the Most Common Causes of Circular Rashes?

By Christina Edwards
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Circular rashes can be symptoms of several medical conditions. Ringworm, which is caused by a fungal infection, is one of the most common causes of this type of rash. Various types of dermatitis can also produce these types of rashes. Some bug bites may result in round rashes. Lyme disease, for instance, is caused by a tick bite, and one of the most common symptoms of this disease is a round rash.

Ringworm is one of the most common causes of a round rash. Contrary to popular belief, ringworm is not caused by any type of worm. It is actually a fungal infection caused by the same fungus responsible for athlete's foot.

The circular rashes associated with ringworm are usually scaly and itchy. Often, there will be a clear area of skin in the center of the rash, creating a ring-shaped rash. Ringworm is typically very contagious, but it is easily treated. An over-the-counter topical anti-fungal cream will usually clear up a ringworm rash. If the rash persists or continues to spread, however, a stronger prescription medication may be needed.

Various types of dermatitis can also cause circular rashes in some people. One of the most common signs of discoid dermatitis, for instance, is a circular, or disc-shaped, rash. This rash most commonly appears on a person's appendages, but it can also develop on other areas of the body as well, including the torso.

Discoid dermatitis, like many other types of dermatitis, also seems to flare up more in dry environments. Treatment of discoid dermatitis typically involves applying a moisturizing cream to any rashes on the body. Topical steroids can also be applied, and these can help keep inflammation down.

Bug bites can also cause circular rashes. The bite sites may also be very itchy, and in some cases, painful, and swollen. Mosquitoes and spiders are two species that commonly cause rashes when they bite a person or animal.

A circular rash is a very common symptom of Lyme disease, which is an infection caused by a bacteria transmitted through deer tick bites. Other symptoms of Lyme disease typically resemble the symptoms of the common flu, and they can include fever, muscle aches, and fatigue. Antibiotics are usually the recommended course of treatment for Lyme disease. To prevent Lyme disease, people who go into wooded areas should wear long pants and shirt sleeves, along with a DEET insect repellent.

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Discussion Comments

By anon1002519 — On Dec 09, 2019

The only circular rings and or patches I’ve ever had on my skin was on the arm. I went to the doctor, and come to find out it was a ringworm. So now I’ve a question: I have a circular shaped rash on the arch of my right foot. I’ve no idea what it is, but it itches extremely bad. I notice that if I spread the skin out to the point all the blood leaves the area, I see tiny air pockets under the first layer of skin. These air pockets are only in the rash area. I’ve had it for almost two months now, and it has spread about a half an inch away from it’s starting point. Could someone please let me know what they think it might be, or if anyone has had anything similar? Thanks!

By anon980998 — On Dec 09, 2014

I developed circular rashes, it looks like five of them, on my abdomen just north of my bellybutton.

They are about an inch in diameter, with a ring appearance, the middle looks just like normal skin. They don't itch, but around the time I noticed them I had been experiencing itchy 'nether-regions' (anus) and a belly button discharge. The patches on my belly look like my right hand could have transferred something there.

So, five ringed red patches on my abdomen, that have been there for probably around a month now. I've had a normal period in-between start and now, and have been treating with tea tree oil as I also treat my face with tea tree oil for persistent breakouts.

I feel like its a complication with my staph bacteria. On my chin there is a massive cluster of skin cells who are not happy. It was at first a deep cyst-like lump and I accidentally hit it very hard while rock climbing and fell and my knee smashed into my chin. So that was last year, and still dealing with flaking skin that isn't really healing properly. I have upped my water (trying to), added vitamin e to the tea tree oil and I use that probably twice a day now. Slowly my face cells are healing up, now this rash needs to go!

Just wondering if anyone has some positive, non judgmental advice or anything to offer. Thanks.

By anon946505 — On Apr 20, 2014

It's never a spider bite. Seriously. Anytime someone comes to the doc's office complaining of a 'spider bite' it's an automatic "well, that's not true, let's figure out what this is."

Bull's eye = you should check for Lyme disease. Certainly not a black widow bite. Come on, you're on the internet. Look up what a black widow bite looks/feels like. It's nothing like what you've described.

A large red spot could still be a mosquito bite. Sometimes you react more strongly.

By ddljohn — On Oct 30, 2013

Can lupus cause circular rashes? I was diagnosed with lupus recently and last week, I developed a circular rash. The rash seems to get worse when I'm out in the sun.

By ZipLine — On Oct 29, 2013

@fify-- I had a rash like that once from a spider bite, but the center of the rash was white unlike yours. It looked like a bull's eye and I thought that it was a fungal infection at first. But my skin wasn't scaly and I knew that we had a spider infestation at home. My doctor told me that it's probably a Black Widow spider bite.

Most spider bites aren't a cause for concern, unless it gets infected. Infection can be very bad so if you get a rash like this again, make sure to wash it with soap and water and keep it clean. If it starts looking infected (inflammation, pus, etc.), you need antibiotics.

By fify — On Oct 29, 2013

I had a red, circular rash on my leg a few months ago. It was just a large, round, red spot. It itched from time to time. I still haven't figured out what caused it but I think that it was a spider bite. I get bit by mosquitoes frequently in the summer and I've never gotten a rash like that from them. This rash took a whole month to go away, so it was definitely a different insect.

Has anyone had something like this? Do you know what caused it?

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