Rash

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The word "rash" means a change in the color and texture of skin that usually causes an outbreak of red patches or bumps on the skin. In common usage of the term, a "rash" can refer to many different skin conditions. A rash can be caused, directly or indirectly, by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Alternatively, a rash may be unrelated to an infectious organism, such as from an underlying medical illness. Medications, chronic medical conditions, and allergic reactions (hives) are among the multiple different causes of rash.

Doctors use specific terms to describe rashes. A macular rash refers to flat, small red patches on the skin, while a papular rash refers to small raised red bumps. If both rash symptoms and signs are present, a rash is called maculopapular. Scaling, blister formation, or ulceration of the skin may be present with a rash. A rash with accompanying blisters is termed a vesicular rash. Itching (pruritus) may or may not accompany a rash.

Summary of Common Rash Symptoms and Signs by MedicineNet Staff
A review of our Patient Comments indicated that many people with a rash have similar symptoms and signs. A few patients mentioned that their rashes initially oozed, then scabbed over, and bled easily. Others reported that their rashes seemed to appear when the seasons changed, when they ate certain foods, or when they began a new course of medication. Many patients said that their rash began in one area of their body and spread to another area. Read on to learn more about rash symptoms and signs in our Patient Comments.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/22/2012

Health concern on your mind? Visit the Symptom Checker.

REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

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      • Is it necessary to test for mold?
      • How should mold be cleaned up and eliminated?
    • Molluscum Contagiosum Molluscum contagiosum is a skin disease that causes pink painless bumps on the skin. It typically resolves in six to 12 months....learn more »
      In This Article
      Molluscum Contagiosum Article
      • Molluscum contagiosum facts
      • What is molluscum contagiosum?
      • What causes molluscum contagiosum?
      • What are risk factors for molluscum contagiosum?
      • What are molluscum contagiosum symptoms and signs?
      • How do physicians diagnose molluscum contagiosum?
      • What is the treatment for molluscum contagiosum?
      • Are there any home remedies for molluscum contagiosum?
      • What is the prognosis of molluscum contagiosum?
      • Is it possible to prevent molluscum contagiosum?
    • Monkeypox Monkeypox is a viral disease that causes symptoms such as fever, sweating, and a rash with papules and pustules on the face and...learn more »
      In This Article
      Monkeypox Article
      • Monkeypox facts
      • What is monkeypox?
      • What is the history of monkeypox?
      • What causes monkeypox? How is monkeypox transmitted?
      • What are risk factors for monkeypox?
      • What are monkeypox symptoms and signs?
      • How is monkeypox diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for monkeypox?
      • What is the prognosis of monkeypox?
      • Can monkeypox be prevented?
      • What research is being done on monkeypox?
      • Where can people get more information about monkeypox?
    • MRSA MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria causes skin infections with the following signs and symptoms:...learn more »
      In This Article
      MRSA Article
      • MRSA infections facts
      • What is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)?
      • What does a MRSA infection look like?
      • What are the risk factors for MRSA infections?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of a MRSA infection?
      • How is a MRSA infection transmitted or spread?
      • How is a MRSA infection diagnosed?
      • How should caregivers treat MRSA patients at home?
      • What is the treatment for a MRSA infection?
      • What is the prognosis (outlook) of a MRSA infection?
      • How can people prevent a MRSA infection?
      • What are the potential complications of a MRSA infection?
      • What is a "superbug"?
      • Where are other MRSA information sources?
    • Pityriasis Rosea Pityriasis rosea is a rash that begins with a large pink patch with well-defined scaly borders on the back, chest, or neck. In...learn more »
      In This Article
      Pityriasis Rosea Article
      • Pityriasis rosea facts
      • What is pityriasis rosea?
      • Who gets pityriasis rosea?
      • What causes pityriasis rosea?
      • What are pityriasis rosea symptoms and signs?
      • How is pityriasis rosea diagnosed?
      • What are some common misdiagnoses of pityriasis rosea?
      • What is the treatment for pityriasis rosea?
      • What home remedies can I use for pityriasis rosea?
      • Is pityriasis rosea dangerous during pregnancy?
      • Can pityriasis rosea be prevented?
      • What is the prognosis for pityriasis rosea?
      • Where can I find more information and facts about pityriasis rosea?
    • Poison Ivy Poison ivy, oak, and sumac contain a substance called urushiol, which causes a rash on people who come in contact with them....learn more »
      In This Article
      Poison Ivy Article
      • Poison ivy, oak, and sumac facts
      • What are poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac?
      • What causes a poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?
      • What are risk factors for poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?
      • What are symptoms and signs of a poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?
      • How do physicians diagnose poison ivy, oak, and sumac rashes?
      • What is the treatment for a poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?
      • Are there any home remedies for a poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?
      • What is the prognosis of a poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?
      • Is it possible to prevent a poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash?
    • Psoriasis Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that may cause large plaques of red, raised skin, flakes of dry skin, and skin scales....learn more »
      In This Article
      Psoriasis Article
      • Psoriasis facts
      • What is psoriasis?
      • What causes psoriasis?
      • What does psoriasis look like? What are psoriasis symptoms and signs?
      • Can psoriasis affect my joints?
      • How do health-care professionals diagnose psoriasis?
      • Can psoriasis affect only my nails?
      • How many people have psoriasis?
      • Is psoriasis curable?
      • Is psoriasis contagious?
      • Can I transmit the gene for psoriasis to my children?
      • What kind of doctor treats psoriasis?
      • What is the treatment for psoriasis?
      • What creams, lotions, and home remedies are available for psoriasis?
      • What oral medications are available?
      • What injections or infusions are available for psoriasis?
      • What about light therapy for psoriasis?
      • Where can I get more information on psoriasis?
      • Is there a national psoriasis support group?
      • What is my long-term prognosis with psoriasis? What are complications of psoriasis?
      • What does the future hold?
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as...learn more »
      In This Article
      Rheumatoid Arthritis Article
      • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) facts
      • What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?
      • What are causes and risk factors of rheumatoid arthritis?
      • What are rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and signs?
      • What are complications of rheumatoid disease?
      • How do physicians diagnose rheumatoid arthritis?
      • What is the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis?
      • "First-line" rheumatoid arthritis medications
      • "Second-line" or "slow-acting" rheumatoid arthritis drugs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or DMARDs)
      • What are newer treatments for rheumatoid arthritis?
      • Rheumatoid arthritis diet and other treatments
      • What about rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy?
      • What is the prognosis (outlook) for patients with rheumatoid arthritis?
      • Is it possible to prevent rheumatoid arthritis?
      • What research is being done on rheumatoid arthritis?
      • Where can people get additional information on rheumatoid arthritis?
    • Ringworm The term "ringworm" or "ringworms" refers to fungal infections that are on the surface of the skin. A physical examination of...learn more »
    • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a tick-borne disease that causes symptoms and signs such as fever, rash, headache, and muscle...learn more »
      In This Article
      Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) Article
      • Rocky Mountain spotted fever facts
      • What is Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
      • Where do most cases of RMSF occur in the U.S.?
      • What causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
      • What are Rocky Mountain spotted fever risk factors?
      • What are Rocky Mountain spotted fever symptoms and signs?
      • How do physicians diagnose Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
      • What is the treatment for Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
      • What is the prognosis of Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
      • Is it possible to prevent Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
    • Rosacea Rosacea is a skin disease that causes redness of the forehead, chin, and lower half of the nose. In addition to inflammation of...learn more »
      In This Article
      Rosacea Article
      • Rosacea facts
      • What is rosacea? Is rosacea contagious?
      • Is rosacea like acne?
      • What are causes and risk factors of rosacea?
      • What are rosacea symptoms and signs?
      • How is rosacea diagnosed?
      • What happens to the nose and the eyes?
      • How is rosacea cured?
      • What about using acne medicine?
      • What is the treatment for rosacea?
      • What should be avoided? What foods are good for rosacea?
      • What natural remedies can help rosacea?
      • Does rosacea get worse with age?
      • How should I care for the skin of my face?
      • How are the telangiectasias (the red lines) treated?
      • How is a rhinophyma (the W.C. Fields nose) treated?
      • What effect may rosacea have on my life?
      • Where can people get more information about rosacea?
    • Roseola Roseola is a viral illness that most commonly affects young children. Symptoms and signs include a sudden high fever that lasts...learn more »
      In This Article
      Roseola Article
      • Roseola facts
      • What is roseola?
      • What virus causes roseola?
      • How is roseola spread?
      • What are roseola symptoms and signs?
      • How is the diagnosis of roseola established?
      • How high can the fever go with roseola?
      • What is the treatment for the fever of roseola?
      • Can the fever cause a seizure?
      • Is a seizure due to fever dangerous?
      • What should I do if my child with roseola has a seizure?
      • Is there a rash with roseola?
      • What is most remarkable characteristic of roseola?
      • What is the course of roseola?
      • Are there any complications of roseola?
      • Should I take my child to the doctor with roseola?
      • When can the child return to child care?
      • Is it possible to prevent roseola?
      • What is the prognosis for a child with roseola?
      • Are there other names for roseola?
    • Scabies Scabies are itch mites that burrow under the skin and produce intense itching that's usually worse at night. Symptoms of scabies...learn more »
    • Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina) Scarlet fever, a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria, causes symptoms and signs such as fever, rash with...learn more »
      In This Article
      Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina) Article
      • Scarlet fever facts
      • What is scarlet fever?
      • What causes scarlet fever?
      • What is the incubation period for scarlet fever?
      • What are risk factors for scarlet fever?
      • What is the contagious period for scarlet fever?
      • What are scarlet fever symptoms and signs?
      • How do physicians diagnose scarlet fever?
      • What is the treatment for scarlet fever?
      • What are complications of scarlet fever?
      • What is the prognosis of scarlet fever? What are the long-term effects of scarlet fever?
      • Is it possible to prevent scarlet fever? Is there a scarlet fever vaccine?
    • Seborrheic Dermatitis Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition. Symptoms and signs include a red, scaling rash on the scalp, face, ears, and...learn more »
      In This Article
      Seborrheic Dermatitis Article
      • Seborrheic dermatitis facts
      • What is seborrheic dermatitis?
      • What are risk factors for seborrheic dermatitis?
      • What causes seborrheic dermatitis?
      • What are seborrheic dermatitis symptoms and signs?
      • How is seborrheic dermatitis diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for seborrheic dermatitis?
      • What are complications of seborrheic dermatitis?
      • What is the prognosis of seborrheic dermatitis?
      • Can seborrheic dermatitis be prevented?
    • Shingles Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Other symptoms include headache, fever,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Shingles Article
      • Shingles facts
      • What is shingles? What does shingles look like?
      • What causes shingles?
      • What are risk factors for shingles?
      • What is the contagious period for shingles?
      • What are shingles symptoms and signs?
      • How is shingles diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for shingles?
      • Are there any home remedies for shingles?
      • What is the duration of a shingles outbreak?
      • What are complications of shingles?
      • What can be done for recurrent shingles?
      • What is the prognosis of shingles?
      • Is it possible to prevent shingles with a vaccine?
    • Sick Building Syndrome Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) or also referred to as sick building syndrome or environmental illness is the name given by...learn more »
      In This Article
      Sick Building Syndrome Article
      • Sick building syndrome facts
      • What is sick building syndrome?
      • Why is sick building syndrome controversial?
      • What causes sick building syndrome?
      • What are risk factors for sick building syndrome?
      • What are sick building syndrome symptoms and signs?
      • How is sick building syndrome diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for sick building syndrome?
      • What are complications of sick building syndrome?
      • What is the prognosis of sick building syndrome?
      • Is there a way to prevent sick building syndrome?
    • Smallpox Smallpox is a disease caused by the variola virus. Symptoms and signs include a characteristic rash and high fever. Treatment...learn more »
      In This Article
      Smallpox Article
      • Smallpox facts
      • What is smallpox?
      • What is the history of smallpox?
      • What causes smallpox?
      • How is smallpox transmitted?
      • What are smallpox symptoms and signs?
      • How is smallpox diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for smallpox?
      • Can smallpox be prevented with a vaccine?
      • What is the prognosis for smallpox, and what are complications of smallpox?
      • Where can people find more information on smallpox?
    • Staph Infection (Staphylococcus Aureus) Staphylococcus or Staph is a group of bacteria that can cause a multitude of diseases. Staph infections can cause illness...learn more »
      In This Article
      Staph Infection (Staphylococcus Aureus) Article
      • Staph infection facts
      • What is Staphylococcus?
      • Who is at risk for Staph infections?
      • What are the symptoms and signs of a Staph infection?
      • What types of diseases are caused by Staph?
      • How are Staph infections diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for Staph infections?
      • What is antibiotic-resistant Staph aureus?
      • What are complications of Staph infections?
      • Can Staph infections be prevented?
      • What is the prognosis for Staph infections?
    • STDs in Men Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections transmitted during sexual contact. They may be caused by viruses, bacteria,...learn more »
      In This Article
      STDs in Men Article
      • What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
      • Who is at risk for STDs?
      • What causes STDs?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of STDs?
      • List of STDs in men
      • Chlamydia
      • Gonorrhea
      • Trichomoniasis
      • HIV
      • Genital herpes
      • Genital warts (HPV)
      • Hepatitis
      • Syphilis
      • How are STDs diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for STDs?
      • What is the prognosis for STDs?
      • Can STDs be prevented?
    • Streptococcal Infections Group A streptococcal infections are caused by group A streptococcus, a bacteria that causes a variety of health problems,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Streptococcal Infections Article
      • Group A streptococcal infections facts
      • What is group A Streptococcus (GAS)?
      • How are group A streptococcal (GAS) infections contracted?
      • What diseases are caused by group A streptococcal infection?
      • What are the symptoms and signs of GAS infections?
      • What is invasive group A streptococcal disease? Who is most at risk for getting invasive GAS disease?
      • What are the symptoms and signs of necrotizing fasciitis?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome (TSS)?
      • How are group A streptococcal (GAS) infections diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for invasive group A streptococcal disease?
      • What complications are seen with group A streptococcal infections?
      • Can group A streptococcal infections be prevented?
      • What is the prognosis for group A streptococcal infections?
      • Where can people find more information about group A streptococcal infections?
    • Sun-Sensitive Drugs (Photosensitivity to Drugs) Sun sensitivity (photosensitivity) is an inflammation of the skin induced by the combination of medications or substances and...learn more »
      In This Article
      Sun-Sensitive Drugs (Photosensitivity to Drugs) Article
      • Sun-sensitizing drugs (photosensitivity) facts
      • What is photosensitivity?
      • What is the difference between a photoallergic and a phototoxic reaction?
      • What is ultraviolet light?
      • Photoallergic and phototoxic reaction pictures
      • What are the symptoms of sun sensitivity (photosensitivity)?
      • Phototoxic drugs
      • Photoallergic drugs
      • Are there any medical conditions that may cause photosensitivity?
      • How is sun sensitivity (photosensitivity) diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for a photosensitizing drug reaction?
      • Is anyone taking these drugs at risk for developing sunburn?
      • Can any foods or plants cause sun sensitivity (photosensitivity) reactions?
      • Pictures of food and plant sun-sensitivity (photosensitivity) reactions
      • Are there any medical applications of sun sensitivity (photosensitivity)?
    • Thyroid Cancer There are four major types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. Tumors on the...learn more »
      In This Article
      Thyroid Cancer Article
      • Thyroid cancer facts*
      • What is the thyroid?
      • What is cancer?
      • What are the different types of thyroid cancer?
      • Thyroid cancer symptoms*
      • How is thyroid cancer diagnosed?
      • How is staging determined for thyroid cancer?
      • What is the treatment for thyroid cancer?
      • Surgery
      • Thyroid hormone treatment
      • Radioactive iodine therapy
      • External radiation therapy
      • Chemotherapy
      • Second opinion
      • Follow-up care
      • Sources of support
      • Taking part in cancer research
    • Ticks Ticks are known transmitters of disease to humans and animals. Tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted...learn more »
      In This Article
      Ticks Article
      • Tick facts
      • What are ticks?
      • What are tick bite symptoms and signs?
      • What diseases do ticks transmit (act as vectors) to humans?
      • How is a tick bite diagnosed?
      • What are the symptoms and signs of diseases transmitted by ticks?
      • What is the treatment for a tick bite?
      • How is a tick removed from the skin?
      • What is the prognosis (outlook) for people who get a tick bite?
      • What are the risk factors for tick bites?
      • How are bites from ticks prevented?
      • Where can I find more information about ticks?
    • Tinea Versicolor Tinea versicolor is a fungus infection that mainly affects the skin of young people. Recognized by light or reddish brown spots,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Tinea Versicolor Article
      • Tinea versicolor facts
      • What is tinea versicolor? What are symptoms and signs of tinea versicolor?
      • What causes tinea versicolor?
      • What other conditions resemble tinea versicolor?
      • How is tinea versicolor diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for tinea versicolor?
      • What is the prognosis of tinea versicolor?
      • Can tinea versicolor be prevented?
    • Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) Toxic shock syndrome is an infection that causes symptoms such as low blood pressure, fever, and a rash with peeling skin....learn more »
      In This Article
      Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) Article
      • Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) facts
      • What is toxic shock syndrome?
      • What causes toxic shock syndrome?
      • What are risk factors for toxic shock syndrome?
      • What are toxic shock syndrome symptoms and signs?
      • How do physicians diagnose toxic shock syndrome?
      • What is the treatment for toxic shock syndrome?
      • What is the prognosis of toxic shock syndrome?
      • Is it possible to prevent toxic shock syndrome?
    • Typhus Typhus is a disease caused by Rickettsia bacteria. Symptoms and signs include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and...learn more »
      In This Article
      Typhus Article
      • Typhus facts
      • What is typhus? Are there different types of typhus?
      • What is the history of typhus?
      • What causes typhus? How is typhus transmitted?
      • What are typhus risk factors?
      • What are typhus symptoms and signs?
      • How is typhus diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for typhus?
      • What is the prognosis of typhus?
      • Can typhus be prevented?
      • Where can people get more information about typhus?
    • West Nile Virus West Nile virus (West Nile encephalitis) is a brain infection caused by a virus. People become infected with the virus after...learn more »
      In This Article
      West Nile Virus Article
      • West Nile virus facts
      • What is the history of West Nile virus?
      • Where did the West Nile virus come from?
      • How do people get West Nile virus?
      • How do mosquitoes get infected with the West Nile virus?
      • Can one person contract the virus from another?
      • Besides mosquitoes, can other insects transmit the West Nile virus?
      • Are there other viruses like the West Nile virus?
      • What are West Nile virus symptoms and signs?
      • When is there an increased risk for infection?
      • Who is at risk for getting West Nile virus?
      • What is the treatment for West Nile virus? Can West Nile virus be prevented with a vaccine?
      • Is a woman's pregnancy at risk if she gets West Nile virus?
      • What can a community do to reduce the risk of an outbreak of the West Nile virus?
      • What can a person do to reduce the risk of becoming infected with the West Nile virus?
    • Yeast Infection (in Women and Men) Vaginal yeast infections in women are caused by an organism called Candida albicans. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection...learn more »
      In This Article
      Yeast Infection (in Women and Men) Article
      • Vaginal yeast infection facts
      • What is a vaginal yeast infection?
      • What causes a vaginal yeast infection?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection?
      • What may increase my risk of getting a vaginal yeast infection?
      • How is a vaginal yeast infection diagnosed?
      • Are there home remedies to treat a vaginal yeast infection?
      • What over-the-counter (OTC) medications are available to treat a vaginal yeast infection?
      • When are oral prescription medications used to treat a vaginal yeast infection?
      • Can a man get a yeast infection from his sexual partner?
      • What are the symptoms of a yeast infection in men?
      • What is the treatment for yeast infection in men?
      • How can a yeast infection be treated if I am pregnant?
      • How can vaginal yeast infections be prevented?
      • What about recurrent yeast infections?
      • How can you protect yourself from contracting a yeast infection from your sexual partner?
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