What you need to know about rashes

A rash may indicate that you or your child has an infection of some kind, but may also be due to an allergy from something you ate or your skin coming into contact with something that has irritated your skin.
 
Here’s what you need to know about rashes.
 
Urticaria.
If you have a rash but are otherwise feeling well you may be allergic to something.
 
The most common type of allergic reaction is called urticaria. This can be triggered by many things, including allergens like food or latex, irritants like nettles, or physical factors, such as exercise or heat. Insect bites and stings, as well as reactions to certain medicines, are also know to produce rashes.
 
Infections
If you have a rash and also feel ill, you may have an infection. Common viral infections include chicken pox, shingles, measles, rubella, glandular fever, cold sores and scarlet fever.  Bacteria can also cause rashes like impetigo and cellulitis.
 
Meningitis can also cause a rash but this is not always present with meningitis. If you or your child has a severe headache, vomiting, a high temperature, a stiff neck or sensitivity to light along with a rash, you need to seek medical help immediately as you may have meningitis.
 
What can you do
  • Antibiotics are sometimes needed to treat bacterial rashes like impetigo and cellulitis. However most rashes are either caused by a virus or an allergy and are not helped by this line of treatment.
  • Acute urticaria is treated using antihistamine tablets, while adults who are immune-compromised will need antiviral treatment for shingles and chickenpox.
  • Temperature can be reduced and pain relieved by parecetomol or ibuprofen.
  • It’s important to avoid using creams, especially steroids, on a rash unless advised to do so by your doctor as steroids often make rashes worse.
If you are worried about the rash or not sure what is causing it then you need to see your doctor.
 
If the rash lasts more than 2 weeks…
There are many rashes that can last for more than two weeks, including eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, acne and rosacea.
 
In this case, you need to see your doctor to get your rash diagnosed properly. You may need to see a dermatologist for tests such as patch testing or skin or blood allergy tests to identify if you are allergic to something. These are best done by a medical professional.
 
For more information on colds, flu and other common illnesses such as ear aches or tummy bugs, visit Under the Weather.

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The information contained on MummyPages is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis or treatment by a qualified medical professional. If in doubt, always consult your doctor.