Taking Care of Your Skin
Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It helps regulate your internal temperature, prevents dehydration and protects your insides from harmful microbes and other contaminants. Healthy skin is a vital component of good health overall. But for millions of Americans, frequent skin rashes are an all-too-frequent reality.
If you’ve ever had a rash, you know the signs. Red, irritated skin. Raw patches, blisters, flakes or swelling. But do you know what to do when it happens? Here’s a look at a few common skin rashes and what you can do to prevent them or get treatment.
Types of Rashes
Different types of rashes require different treatments. Contact your primary care physician who can help determine what kind of rash you have and recommend more specialized care, like seeing a dermatologist, if needed.
Psoriasis is a long-term condition that occurs when your immune system becomes overactive and prompts rapid skin cell growth. It typically causes scaly, inflamed skin on your elbows, knees or scalp. The condition can also affect other areas of your body. Symptoms tend to occur in cycles. These are flares and can last anywhere from a week to several months.
There is currently no cure for psoriasis. Treatment focuses on treating your symptoms and keeping them under control.
It may include:
- Medication like injections or pills
- Topical treatments such as lotions, creams, shampoos and ointments
- Ultraviolet light exposure
Eczema describes a rash-like skin condition also called atopic dermatitis. It most often affects babies, but children and adults can also experience this common condition. It is not contagious.
Symptoms of eczema, which tend to affect your cheeks, buttocks and elbow creases, may include:
- A rash that leaks clear fluid
- Dry, itchy skin
- Scaly patches that crust over with time
Treatment may consist of creams, ointments and medications.
Contact dermatitis happens when you come into contact with a skin irritant or allergen. There are two types:
- Allergic dermatitis occurs when your skin makes contact with a substance you're allergic to and causes a reaction.
- Irritant dermatitis is caused by your skin's reaction to irritants such as soap, solvents, chemicals, pesticides or detergents.
The symptoms of contact dermatitis may vary, depending on the cause and severity of your allergy. They may develop over time or suddenly without prior warning. Treatment includes avoiding possible allergens and using anti-itch medication during an outbreak.
These tips from the National Institutes of Health can help soothe your rash and provide the relief you and your inflamed skin need.
- Avoid known triggers such as allergens, extreme weather, certain medications and stress.
- Don’t smoke. Research shows smoking can worsen your symptoms and your rash.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Excessive alcohol can make your skin rash worse.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can make your symptoms worse.
- Moisturize your skin regularly. Apply moisturizer after bathing while your skin is still damp to help the product absorb more easily.
- Use lukewarm water and mild soap with added oils to avoid stripping moisture from your skin with overly hot water and harsh detergents.
- Wear cotton clothing that doesn’t irritate or inflame your rash.
Remember to contact your physician to get diagnosed before starting any treatment plan. To find a Catholic Health physician near you, call (866) MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362).