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Skin Rash: Skin rashes are common and due to many factors ranging from serious diseases or allergic

Posted Jan 26 2009 3:39pm

Skin rashes come in all shapes and sizes and have many different causes, ranging from an allergic reactions to rashes caused from bites and stings.

Skin rashes are mostly temporary and self-limiting and with a little tender love and care, most skin rashes can be treated quickly and easily. However, there are some medical conditions that present as a rash on the skin and need professional health care advice.

Alternative names used to describe skin rashes

Skin redness or inflammation; Skin lesion; Rubor; Skin rash; Erythema


Rashes involve changes in the colour or texture of your skin and may or may not be itchy.


Often, the cause of a rash can be determined from its visible characteristics and other symptoms.

Common causes of skin rashes:

Exogenous Causes (causes that are due to some external/environmental factors)

Skin rashes may be caused by any of the following external factors:

  • Dyes and other chemicals in clothing
  • Chemicals in elastic, latex, and rubber products
  • Cosmetics, soaps, and detergents
  • Poison ivy, oak, or sumac
  • Insect bites such as: Mosquito bites, Bee stings, Flea bites, etc.
  • Nappy rashes
  • Some metals
  • Nettle rash (see Hive)

Almost anything can cause a skin rash if an individual has an allergic reaction to it. Foods, grasses, perfumes and many other natural and/or synthetic chemicals/compounds may cause the skin to develop a rash.

These types of skin rashes however are relatively easily treated and eliminated, just by avoiding contact with the known allergen and using natural skin care products to soothe the skin.


Endogenous Causes (causes that are due to some physiological response of the body due to a pathogen or other physiological reaction:

  • Fever rash – associated with fevers, usually redness with flat, pimple like areas; Usually not itchy and recedes within a few days following the subsidence of fever.
  • Psoriasis - is a skin disease that causes scaling and swelling. Skin cells grow deep in the skin and slowly rise to the surface. It tends to occur as red, scaly, itchy patches over joints and along the scalp. Fingernails may be affected.

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  • Atopic Dermatitis, Eczema - tends to happen in people with allergies or asthma. The rash is generally red, itchy, and scaly.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis - a rash that appears in patches of redness and scaling around the eyebrows, eyelids, mouth, nose, the trunk, and behind the ears. On the scalp, it is called dandruff in adults and cradle cap in infants. Age, stress, fatigue, weather extremes, oily skin, infrequent shampooing, and alcohol-based lotions aggravate this harmless but bothersome condition.
  • Acrodermatitis - is a childhood skin condition that may be accompanied by mild symptoms of fever and malaise. It may also be associated with hepatitis B and other viral infections.
  • Impetigo - common in children, this infection is from bacteria that live in the top layers of the skin. Appears as red sores that turn into blisters, ooze, then crust over.
  • Shingle s - a painful blistered skin condition caused by the same virus as chickenpox. The virus can lie dormant in your body for many years and re-emerge as shingles. Herpes zoster is an acute, localized infection with varicella-zoster virus, which causes a painful, blistering rash.
  • Hives – Hives can occur as a result of either internal or external factors, and is also known as Nettle rash or urticaria, which presents as reddish itchy weals or swellings in the skin similar to those resulting from contact with stinging nettle. Urtica is the Latin word for nettle. The rash may vary in shape and size, can be very itchy but usually goes away within 24 hours. Nettle rash may occur repeatedly or as a single episode. Contact with Stinging nettle will usually result in Hives.
  • Dry skin – itchy, red, irritated skin that may be flaky and leathery in appearance.

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  • Lupus erythematosus –Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic disease. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body's own immune system is directed against the body's own tissues. It can occur at all ages, but is more common in young women. The production of autoantibodies leads to immune complex formation. The immune complex deposition in many tissues leads to the manifestations of the disease. Immune complexes can be deposited in glomeruli, skin, lungs, synovium, mesothelium, and other parts of the body.
  • Erythema toxicum - Erythema toxicum neonatorum (ETN) is a benign, self-limited, asymptomatic skin condition that only occurs during the neonatal period. The eruption is characterized by small, sterile, erythematous papules, vesicles, and, occasionally, pustules. The lesions usually are surrounded by a distinctive diffuse, blotchy, erythematous halo. Individual lesions are transitory, often disappearing within hours and then appearing elsewhere on the body.
  • Roseola - Roseola is a generally mild viral illness that usually affects babies and young children. The condition typically causes several days of fever, followed by a rash.
  • Cellulitis - is a potentially serious bacterial infection of your skin. It appears as a swollen, red area of skin that feels hot and tender, and it may spread rapidly. Skin on the lower legs or face is most commonly affected by this infection, though cellulitis can occur on any part of your skin.
  • Granuloma annulare - is a long-term (chronic) skin disease consisting of a rash with reddish bumps arranged in a circle or ring.
  • Sweat rash (also known as Prickly heat rash) – this is similar to nappy rash, but can be quite sever and problematic for people who due to work or living in a hot, humid environment tend to develop this type of skin rash. It is usually found around joints or where tight clothing such as underwear comes in contact with the skin. Some people have an allergic reaction to their own perspiration.


Most skin rashes will improve with gentle skin care and avoiding irritating substances.

For skin rashes that occur as a result of contact with an allergen, a good first aid treatment is the application of pure Lavender oil. Lavender generally alleviates pain, itching and burning sensations and is a great antiseptic.

In the case of Fever Rash, there is nothing other than rest and drinking plenty of fluids to help clean-out your body of the infection and reducing body temperature back to normal.

  • Avoid scrubbing your skin.
  • Use as little soap as possible. Use gentle cleansers instead.
  • Avoid applying cosmetic lotions or ointments directly on the rash, unless the ointment is specifically intended to treat the rash.
  • Use warm (not hot) water for washing your body. Pat dry, don't rub.
  • Eliminate any newly added cosmetics or lotions.
  • Leave the affected area exposed to the air as much as possible.


Alternative medical approach to treating endogenous disorders that result in a skin rash

Most disciplines of alternative medicine will view a skin rash as part of an overall imbalance of the body’s physiology. Rarely will alternative medical approaches focus exclusively on a skin rash without considering possible underlying causes.

Usually, a skin rash indicates that there are some internal factors that are out of balance and the focus of treatment is usually on these internal factors, rather than the symptom of a resulting skin rash.

Chinese medicine, for example, divides skin rashes into several categories and differentiates between concepts such as Yin/Yang, Hot/Cold, Damp-Heat, Cold-Damp, Heat in the blood, etc. and does not provide orthodox medical names. Shingles for example may well be diagnosed as Damp-Heat in the Liver or Spleen, depending on other accompanying symptoms.  Regardless of the name, herbalists whether they practice western or Chinese herbal medicine will attempt to re-establish the internal harmony in the body and this usually results in the successful treatment of the skin rash.

It is also important to review the patient’s diet and establish whether improving, modifying or changing their diet would help to re-establish the internal harmony of their body. Any diet should be as high as possible in unprocessed food and include a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, fish and lean meats together with some dairy foods such as unprocessed cheese. The closer the food you eat is to the way it is found naturally in nature, the better.

Once an appropriate treatment regime including a review and possible modification of your diet is established, the skin rash may also be addressed separately. This is where following a good skin care regime, utilising natural skin care products to treat the rash specifically, can help to reduce the symptoms associated with the skin rash and promote healing of the skin.


Danny Siegenthaler is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and together with his wife Susan, a medical herbalist and Aromatherapist, they have created Natural Skin Care Products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products to share their 40 years of combined expertise with you.

They practice Herbal and Chinese medicine at their Wildcrafted Cottage Clinic.

© Wildcrafted Herbal Products 2008




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