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A skin rash can be inflamed patches, discolored from the surrounding skin, itchy or not, bumpy, scaly or smooth, dry or blistered. The cause of a skin rash can be even more varied and could be a symptom of an underlying condition such as allergy or infection that might require treatment.

You should discuss any unusual skin changes, especially any skin condition that persists for more than a couple weeks, with your primary care provider or other health care provider.

Depending on the type of skin rash, it can take days or weeks to heal. Seek medical attention if you are concerned about a skin condition or if you experience the following:

  • Most of your body is affected
  • Open sores or blisters
  • Fever
  • Rapid spread
  • Pain
  • Rash on or near the eyes, lips mouth or genitals

Scratching a rash easily can introduce germs that will make your condition worse. Signs of an infected rash include pus, crusting, pain and swelling. An infected rash needs medical attention.

Norton Now includes same-day care options so you can get the care you need, when you need it and where you need it. Norton Community Medical Associates primary care offices are located across Louisville, Southern Indiana and beyond. Save your spot in line at a Norton Immediate Care Center or visit a Norton Prompt Care clinic for treatment of minor injuries or illnesses.

Use Norton eCare video visits, or eVisits which require no video — just answer a few questions online from anywhere in Kentucky or Indiana for care without coming into the office. Your provider can order drive-thru lab testing for you at Norton Healthcare Express Services if it’s needed.

Common Types of Skin Rash


Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a chronic condition that reacts to stress, foods, irritants or allergens with discolored, dry, itchy skin. If scratched, it can release clear fluid.

Certain soaps or detergents are common triggers for eczema. The condition isn’t contagious. Eczema is more common in childhood, and most people will outgrow the condition.

In adults, eczema is a chronic condition and can require ongoing management to control symptoms. Frequent moisturizing and avoiding triggers can prevent breakouts. Corticosteroid creams or ointments can reduce inflammation and itching.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis can produce discolored, itchy, blistering and swollen skin. The trigger could be an allergic reaction or the result of contact with an irritant. Unlike eczema, which is a chronic condition, contact dermatitis is temporary.

Poison ivy or poison oak can produce contact dermatitis, as can certain chemicals, personal care products, cosmetics, soaps and detergents.

Mild cases of contact dermatitis can be treated with cool compresses, over-the-counter antihistamines and hydrocortisone creams. Scratching can introduce a secondary infection that should be evaluated by a health care provider.

Drug Rash

An adverse reaction to medication can result in discolored, inflamed, itchy, swollen or blistering skin patches. A drug rash can appear shortly after starting a new medication or weeks later. Seek medical care and consult with your prescribing provider if you are concerned or develop a drug rash.

Heat Rash

Also known as prickly heat, this common skin condition occurs when sweat becomes trapped in sweat ducts, leading to inflammation and discoloration. The small, itchy bumps can appear in areas prone to friction or sweating including the neck, chest, back, groin or armpits.

Heat rash is more common in humid weather, when sweat doesn’t evaporate as easily.

Keep the affected area cool and dry. Wear loose-fitting clothing. Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream can provide relief. Avoid heavy creams or ointments that can block sweat ducts.


Psoriasis is a noncontagious chronic autoimmune condition that causes the rapid buildup of skin cells. The inflamed, thick patches often appear on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, but can affect any skin area. Psoriasis also can cause itching and burning.

Corticosteroids and retinoids are common treatments for psoriasis. Severe cases may benefit from ultraviolet light or systemic medications like methotrexate.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis causes discolored, scaly skin patches and stubborn dandruff. The oil glands in the scalp, face and upper chest make these areas prone to seborrheic dermatitis. Medicated shampoos, topical treatments and lifestyle adjustments can manage the condition.

Bacterial Infection

Common bacterial skin infections include cellulitis, impetigo and folliculitis.

  • Cellulitis is a painful, inflamed area of skin. The rash typically doesn’t have clear borders.
  • Impetigo is more common in young children. It’s characterized by large blisters, often with crusted sores.
  • Folliculitis has small bumps or pimples that form in hair follicles. Under-treated hot tub water can cause folliculitis within hours of exposure.

Viral Infection

Cold sores, chickenpox and measles are rashes caused by a viral infection.

  • Herpes simplex causes cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth or genitals.
  • Varicella-zoster virus leads to chickenpox in children and shingles in adults.
  • Measles shows up as a discolored skin rash that typically starts on the face and spreads down the body.
  • Rubella causes a rash — often called German measles — that begins on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can lead to various skin conditions and rashes as the immune system weakens.

Fungal Infection

Fungal infection rash, also known as dermatophytosis or tinea corporis, is caused by fungi that thrive in warm and moist environments. The rash usually appears as discolored, circular patches with raised edges and clear centers. It may be itchy or cause a burning sensation.

Treatment typically involves antifungal creams or oral medications. Avoiding sharing personal items like towels can help prevent the spread.

Insect Bite

Insect bites can cause discolored, swollen and itching skin. The culprits are usually mosquitoes, fleas, bedbugs and ticks. The bites can result in mild to severe reactions depending on your sensitivity.

Over-the-counter and home remedies can relieve the itching and inflammation. A cold compress, anti-itch creams or lotions and oral antihistamines can ease symptoms.

Tick bites can cause bacterial infections such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Learn how to safely remove a tick.

Cancer is an uncommon cause of a rash. T-cell lymphoma can start as a rash that progresses to thickened scaly patches. Leukemia can cause bruise-like rashes. Inflammatory breast cancer is form of breast cancer that often can be mistaken for a rash, allergic reaction or minor infection.

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that sometimes includes a butterfly-shaped rash on the face.

Skin Rash Treatment

The treatment for your skin rash can range from over-the-counter symptom management to prescribed medications, depending on the cause of your rash.

A topical steroid, applied to the skin, can reduce inflammation, irritation and itching caused by eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis and other skin conditions. An antihistamine, typically one that does not need a prescription, can relieve rash symptoms such as itching.

If the cause of your rash is a bacterial infection, or if a secondary infection develops in open skin at the site of your rash, an antibiotic may be prescribed by your health care provider. Antifungal medication treats fungal infections on the skin and elsewhere in the body.

Norton Now: Care When You Need It

  • Get medical care when and where it works for you.
    • Norton Community Medical Associates primary care is your medical home. More than 35 locations across the Louisville area and Southern Indiana means there’s an office close to home, work or school. Your primary care physician knows you and your health and performs annual checkups to stay ahead of any emerging conditions. Our doctors and nurse practitioners connect you to the full Norton Healthcare system, giving you and your family easy access to the area’s leading specialty physicians.
    • More than 15 Norton Immediate Care Centers offer treatment for minor illnesses and injuries. Reserve your spot in line and we’ll text you when it’s time to check in. All Norton Immediate Care Centers are equipped with X-ray machines.
    • Norton Prompt Care clinics have same-day appointments available when you need care for yourself or your family. All locations offer extended weekday and weekend hours. Many are located within Walgreens stores.
    • Norton eCare allows you to visit with a provider via secure video or by simply answering questions online about your symptoms.
    • Emergency care is available for a very serious illness or injury that puts your life in danger. Get treatment 24/7 at nine locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana, including three locations for kids.
  • Medicaid, Medicare and most major commercial insurance plans are accepted.
  • Get test results, renew prescriptions, communicate with your health care provider, get notified if an earlier appointment becomes available and more with your free Norton MyChart account.

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