What Are the Causes of Rashes or Hives?


Skin rashes are bumps on the body that change the way the skin looks and feels. Since there are so many types of rashes, there are many different causes. Hives are a common type of rash characterized by red, raised areas of skin that are usually itchy.

The Facts

  • The skin is susceptible to infection from external causes such as bacteria, fungi, parasites or viruses. Rashes can also be caused by irritants such as soaps, cosmetics and detergents. Some medical conditions trigger rashes, including rheumatoid arthritis.


  • Skin rashes have many causes. Rashes can be triggered by infections by outside invaders, or they can be caused by hereditary skin problems such as dermatitis or psoriasis.


  • Environmental factors can sometimes trigger rashes, especially hives. Examples are heat or cold, insect bites, sunlight and stress.


  • Symptoms of skin rashes can vary depending on the cause. Rashes can be irritating, painful or itchy. The skin may become swollen, cracked, scaly, red or inflamed.

Home Care

  • Most rashes will show improvement if you avoid irritating substances and treat your skin gently. Don't scrub, and use gentle cleansers. Over-the-counter creams may provide some relief. Seek medical care for any persistent rash that doesn't respond to home care.

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