How to Determine What Type of Skin Rash I Have

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There are many different causes of skin rashes, including viral infections, plant exposure, anxiety or allergies. Many rashes can appear in similar ways on the skin, which can be confusing. You should seek medical attention for diagnosis of a serious skin rash, but observing the characteristics of the rash can help you know how to treat your rash.

Things You'll Need

  • Mirror
  • Flashlight

Observe the coloration of the skin rash. Skin rashes can appear in a wide variety of colors, including bright red, pink and brown. Noting the color of your skin rash can help you determine the cause of the rash. Measles begins as a bright red rash that turns brown as it spreads. A chicken pox rash is light to medium pink. A poison ivy rash looks red to purple. Check the skin regularly for signs of any coloration changes, and notify your doctor.

Observe the skin rash for signs of fluid or crusting. Many types of rashes do not produce any fluid or pus. If your rash contains fluid or pus-filled blisters, or appears crusty, it can indicate that the rash might be caused by a viral infection like chicken pox, an autoimmune disease like psoriasis, or an allergic reaction. If the rash is caused by chicken pox, it is highly contagious and the sufferer should avoid contact with others. If the rash is caused by an allergic reaction, seek medical help right away. Certain allergic reactions can be dangerous and sometimes fatal.

Observe the location of the skin rash. Certain rashes localize themselves to a particular place on the body. Poison ivy, for example, tends to appear around the ankles and shins, where the legs have touched the low-growing plants. A shingles rash appears around the abdomen and chest. A measles rash starts out on the cheeks and slowly migrates down the neck and over the chest. Note the location of the rash and any changes or migration that occur. This could be helpful in identifying the cause of the rash.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a mirror and a flashlight to better see your skin rash.

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