A skin rash by any other name is still a skin rash. But it can also be known as eczema, dermatitis, hives, a fungal infection or a number of other ailments. Most produce similar results of itchy, red patches, bumps or even oozing pustules protruding from the skin. Treating skin rashes is best done by understanding where they are coming from and then seeking medical advice to quash the problem.
Eczema is a broad category that covers a number of itchy, scaly patches. The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, a hereditary condition that often kicks into gear in early childhood. This condition leaves the kid with scaly patches on his arms, legs, torso, scalp and can often result in red, chapped cheeks. Eczema seems to disappear and reappear on its own, not directly the result of coming in contact with anything specific. It does, however, frequently get worse in the winter when the air is dry and cold and the skin is more easily aggravated.
Contact dermatitis is caused by something that irritates the skin. This could come in the form of a certain material that simply comes in contact with the skin or by repeated abuse of the skin, such as harsh and obsessive hand washing. Rashes from contact dermatitis range usually produce scaly red patches that are sore and tender. Poison ivy is a prime example of contact dermatitis, as is the result of wearing chintzy, nickel-based jewelry that can turn the skin scaly or green. This type of rash is usually contained to the area where the substance touched the skin.
Fungal and bacterial infections are another cause behind a number of rashes that result in scaly patches of skin. Fungal infections typically affect folds of skin, like where the legs connect to the groin or underneath the breasts. They also produce bright red patches with pustules around the perimeter. Bacterial infections can produce a scattered series of itchy dots across a wide area, such as the back, or be contained to a single area that produces an angry, red welt or patch. The most common bacterial infection is that caused by staph or strep germs and more frequently occurs in children than in adults.
Red, itchy bumps that pop up all over different areas are another common type of rash. These are usually called by some type of virus or allergy, such as a detergent used on clothing that then rubs against the skin and makes it unbearable. Another type of rash are hives, which appear as raised, itchy bumps and are also often caused by an allergic reaction to a substance, including bee stings or something the person ate.
Getting to the doctor should be the number one priority for anyone suffering from any type of skin rash. While most of them are not contagious, the side effects can often be excruciating and only get worse if constantly scratched or left untreated. Over-the-counter topical creams can help quell some of the discomfort on the way to the doctor, but a full diagnosis is best so the doctor can further prescribe something to deal with the cause of the rash and not just its effects.