Acute Rash


What is a rash? Irritation, redness, or itchiness in the skin or mucous membranes may be called a rash. Mucous membranes are the lining of the nose, throat, and other body areas that are open to the outside. An acute rash may be a sign of an injury, illness, or a reaction of the skin or body to certain things. The word acute is used to define problems that start suddenly, worsen quickly, and last a short time.

What is eczema? This is a condition where rashes show up as inflamed (swollen) and itchy areas of your skin. With eczema, skin usually looks dry, scaly, and thick. The outer layer of the skin is often damaged by eczema. Irritants, stress, and having a family member with eczema make you more likely to get it. You may be so itchy that it is hard to sleep. Common types of eczema include:

What is urticaria? With this condition, rashes appear suddenly as patches and raised areas of swollen skin or mucous membrane. The rash area may itch or feel like it is burning. This can be caused by allergens found in the air, such as pollen, dust mites, and animal dander. Being around certain animals or materials, such as latex, or eating certain foods may also cause urticaria. Foods that often cause urticaria include wheat, soy, milk, eggs, fish, clams, crabs, legumes, cheese, lobster, shrimp, tomatoes, and strawberries. You may also get this rash with sudden changes in temperature, being around smoke, or after having a blood transfusion.

What is pityriasis rosea? This rash may appear before you get a disease caused by a virus. Germs called bacteria or a virus may cause this rash. The rash may look like a patch on your chest, back, or abdomen. The rash may spread to become small, red, cone-shaped bumps, which usually grow in groups.

What diseases may cause an acute rash? Your body's immune system fights germs and other things to help prevent you from getting sick. If you have an autoimmune disease, your body fights against your own cells, proteins, or tissues instead of against the germs. A rash is often seen in the following diseases:

Can certain medicines cause a rash? A rash may appear after you use a medicine on your skin, or take a medicine by mouth. Antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, and aspirin may cause a rash. The rash may lay flat to your skin or be raised, and it may be itchy.

How can I tell healthcare providers about my acute rash? Tell healthcare providers when you first saw the rash, and the place or places on your body where you saw it. Tell him what happened before the rash showed up. Tell him if the rashes come after eating a certain food, after doing an activity, or when you feel stressed. If you had the rash before, tell your healthcare provider how often you have had it. Tell him if you are taking or using any medicine, or have allergies or medical conditions. He will need to know if you have a family member who has allergies, or also gets rashes.

How might my acute rash be treated? Your treatment will depend on the condition causing your acute rash. You may have any of the following:

What else may be done to treat my acute rash? Treatments such as the following may decrease itching and hep you cope with your rash:

What can I do to help prevent or treat my rash? Dry skin can lead to further problems with atopic dermatitis or eczema. The following may prevent dry skin, and help your skin look better:

Will I need appointments with other healthcare providers? You may need to see a dermatologist if healthcare providers do not know what is causing your rash. You may also need to see a dermatologist if your rash does not get better even with treatment. You may need to see a dietitian if you have allergies to foods.

What should I expect with time or treatment?

When should I call my healthcare provider? Call your healthcare provider if:

When should I seek immediate help? Call 911 or seek care immediately if:


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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