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Treating Rashes: When to See a Doctor

Every once in a while, we may notice a small patch of itchy red skin somewhere on our bodies. Most people see it as a simple rash, apply calamine lotion, and call it a day. But at what point do these rashes become a cause for concern? We’ve put together a list of a few rashes that could be problematic and require a doctor’s visit.

What is a Rash?

Let’s begin by defining what a rash truly is. Technically speaking, a rash is a sudden outbreak of skin lesions. This is a very general definition that can be used to classify many types of skin conditions. However, it is still best to keep this definition in mind as we make our way through a list of the more serious kinds of rashes.

1) Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that typically appears on the lower legs, though it can appear just about anywhere. Cellulitis is contracted through a cut or open wound on the skin. When the bacteria enters through the opening, it causes pain and soreness in the invaded area. The skin will eventually begin to redden and a rash will appear. The rash typically spreads rapidly and can be accompanied by a cyst filled with pus. If the condition is more severe, the person may experience flu-like symptoms. Cellulitis requires treatment in the form of a one to two-week antibiotic regimen. However, if left untreated cellulitis can be life-threatening.

2) Drug Allergy

Many people won’t know they are allergic to a drug until after they’ve taken it. That’s what makes this type of rash so dangerous. The appearance of a rash after an individual has taken a particular type of medication is the body’s warning system alerting them that their immune system is having a negative reaction to the medication. It isn’t the rash that is a cause of concern; it’s what may follow. If a drug allergy isn’t treated, it could lead to anaphylaxis. So, use the rash as an indicator and go see a doctor immediately.

3) Kawasaki Disease

This is one of the most common causes of heart disease in children. Kawasaki disease is a condition that causes inflammation of the lymph nodes in young children ages one to five. Appearing in stages, symptoms include persistent high fevers, rashes on the chest and stomach and sometimes on the groin, swollen red lips and tongue, swollen hands and feet, and red eyes. In the later stages, symptoms include stomach cramping and vomiting, swollen gallbladder, and possible temporary hearing loss. Kawasaki disease can be treated in a matter of days. However if left untreated, it can lead to serious heart disease. Be on the lookout for these symptoms and seek medical attention immediately.

There are other rashes that may not be life-threatening but should be evaluated by a physician.

4) Rosacea

Rosacea is a chronic skin disease that appears mainly on the face. Symptoms include red bumps, dry skin, and redness of the area.

5) Impetigo

Another skin infection affecting children, impetigo is usually present in children ages two to five. Symptoms include clustered sores and blisters around the nose and mouth. These blisters often itch and are painful. Impetigo can be treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated, the symptoms will worsen and the rash may spread.

6) Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that appears as rough, scaly, itchy skin. There is no cure for psoriasis, but treatment can include medicated ointments or creams and even oral or injected medications. Psoriasis is not life-threatening, but over-the-counter treatments may not be effective. It’s best to contact a dermatologist for an evaluation.

If you are in the greater Ohio area and would like to speak to experts about possible treatment, The Dermatology Group would be happy to offer tips, advice, resources, and treatment. Call us today!

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