If you get painful blisters on any part of your body, they are known as cold sores. These are usually caused by a virus, but not the one that makes you sneeze and sniffle. Cold sores occur due to an infection that is called a herpes simplex virus or HSV.
Cold sore symptoms
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, can happen anywhere on the body. They are most likely to appear on the outer side of your lips and mouth, but can also appear on fingers, cheeks, or nose.
As the blisters form, you may find them breaking and oozing. A scab or yellow crust builds up and later falls off, revealing the skin underneath. These sores generally last 7 to 10 days and may spread to other individuals around until they crust over completely.
Who gets cold sores?
Just about everyone. 90 percent of all individuals get at least one cold sore in their life. The symptoms are generally the most severe the very first time you catch them. Kids generally being affected fall seriously ill.
A ‘Rash’ is nothing specific. Instead, it refers to any sort of discoloration and/or tenderness that deforms the skin’s usual appearance. Some of the common types of rashes comprise of hives, poison ivy, eczema, and even athlete’s foot. Infections that cause rashes may be fungal, viral, bacterial, or even parasitic. What if the rash you have are not cold sores? Well, there are several types of rashes that may appear on any part of your body.
What causes rashes?
Some noninfectious, common types of rashes are listed below. If you find a new rash on your body and you also have hay fever or some other relatable condition, it is best that you consult a doctor.
Some of the most common rash symptoms include:
- Blister formation
- Skin ulceration
Some people also experience:
- Skin discoloration
- Bumps on the skin
Signs of common types of noninfectious rashes you should know about
Several common types of noninfectious rashes are:
- Atopic Dermatitis
This condition is generally referred to as eczema. It is a very common disorder of childhood that causes weeping, red inflamed rashes on the inner aspects of elbows, in back of the knees, ankles, wrist, neck, and cheeks. It is usually found in people suffering from hay fever or asthma.
- Seborrheic dermatitis
This condition is another most common form of a rash affecting adults. It causes a red scaling along with an itchy eruption that mainly affects the brows, forehead, scalp, and even the external ears. In infants, it generally involves the cradle cap and the diaper area.
- Contact dermatitis
This is a type of rash which is brought on either by contacting a certain chemical to which an individual is specifically allergic or with a substance that directly irritates the skin. Some of the chemicals are both allergens and irritants. This rash is usually oozy and weepy, affecting different parts of the body that come in direct contact with the allergen substance. Common examples include poison oak, poison sumac, poison ivy and reactions to costume jewelry that contains nickel.
- Diaper rash
Diaper rash is another common type of irritant contact dermatitis that usually occurs in infants and even adults who wear diapers. The condition occurs when urine and feces come in contact with the skin for long.
- Stasis dermatitis
This is an oozy, weepy dermatitis that occurs on the lower legs of people who have chronic swelling because of poor blood circulation in their veins.
It is more like a bumpy eruption which does not ooze or weep. Psoriasis generally occurs on the knees, elbows, and scalp. The skin shows silvery flakes that scale and fall off.
These are itchy red bumps that occur on the skin and then resolve in about 8 to 10 hours. However, they keep recurring frequently. If hives are caused as a medication reaction, then medication should be avoided in the future.
- Nummular eczema
This is an oozy, weepy dermatitis that occurs in the form of coin-shaped plaques during winters and is associated with extremely dry skin.
- Drug eruptions
Certain drugs such as antibiotics can also produce a skin rash as an unwanted side effect. The common appearance is very much similar to rashes that are caused by some of the common viral infections. However, drugs also cause a wide variety of other types of skin rashes.
- Heat rash (miliaria)
This rash is generally caused due to the occlusion of sweat ducts during humid, hot weather. Heat rash may happen at any age but is common among children who are kept warm in hot weather. The condition causes small blisters or looks more like a red cluster of acne. It usually occurs on the upper chest and neck, under the breast, in the groin, and in elbow creases. An individual must move to a cooler environment to make these rashes go away.
Rashes that are not caused by infections can be effectively treated with over-the-counter topical creams. Over-the-counter oral antihistamines like diphenhydramine and hydroxyzine can be extremely beneficial in controlling the itching sensation.
How to doctors diagnose and treat rashes?
Infectious diseases specialists, pediatricians, dermatologists, and many internists are highly capable of identifying most types of rashes.
How to diagnose common skin rashes?
‘Rash’ itself has no particular meaning but often is used to refer to a wide range of red and itchy skin eruptions. A rash is basically an inflammatory condition of the skin. Physicians have developed different terms that help them describe skin rashes.
First and foremost, they need to identify the primary and most frequent feature. The configuration of a skin rash is later described using adjectives like ‘circular’, ‘snake-like’, ‘linear’, ‘ring-shaped’ etc. Some of the other traits of a rash that are considered include shape, tenderness, consistency, size, color, density, and even temperature.
Finally, the rash distribution on the body can be useful in diagnosing as most skin diseases have a predilection to appear in certain parts of the body. Though some findings may have a dramatic component of the skin disorder, they perhaps are of limited value in providing an accurate diagnosis. These include findings like scabbing, scaling, and ulcers. Using this particular structure, it is usually possible to develop a list, referred to as differential diagnosis, of the possible diseases. An accurate diagnosis of a skin rash generally called for a skin specialist. On the basis of differential diagnosis, certain lab tests and procedures are conducted that help identify the actual cause of the rash.
Fungal infections and rashes
Fungal infections are quite common. Yeasts are botanically related to fungi and eventually cause a skin rash. These affect the folds of skin. They show pustules and look fiery red around the edges.
Yeasts and fungal infections are interlinked with hygiene – clear people also catch them. Fungal rashes are not generally acquired from pets, mainly dogs. They seem to be most easily acquired in pools, showers, gyms, locker rooms or from other members of the family. Antifungal creams can be of great help in relieving the skin from the particular condition.
If a fungal infection has been repeatedly treated without any success, it is imperative to consider the possibility that it was never actually a fungal infection but rather a form of eczema. Eczema is treated differently.
Bacterial infections and rashes
Two of the most common bacterial infections that affect the skin are impetigo and folliculitis. Strep or staph germs usually cause impetigo and/or folliculitis, two conditions which are much common in children than adults. Bacteria mainly cause the eruption and are often blisters or may be plaque-like and quite painful too.
Rarely, streptococcal sore throat can lead to scarlet fever – a rash that affects a large part of the skin. Rashes that are caused by certain classes of bacteria, spirochetes or Rickettsia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever along with secondary syphilis are generally able to be suspected clinically.
Treatment for rashes
Most rashes are not risky. They generally last for a while and get better on their own. It is hence not unreasonable to treat symptoms like dry or itchy skin for a few days to see if the condition gets milder or goes away completely.
Nonprescription remedies include:
- Anti-itch creams that comprise 1 percent of hydrocortisone topical cream can be effective
- Moisturizing lotions
- Oral antihistamines such as hydroxyzine and diphenhydramine can help control itching sensation
- Fungal infections can be treated using antifungal creams that contain terbinafine (Lamisil), miconazole (Micatin), or clotrimazole (Lotrimin)
If these measures do not help, if the condition persists or becomes widespread, consultation with a dermatologist is advisable.
Smallpox vaccination in patients with rashes
People with eczema or atopic dermatitis should not be vaccinated against smallpox, whether their condition is active or not. People suffering from atopic dermatitis are more vulnerable to having the virus spread on their skin, which can lead to serious or even life-threatening condition known as eczema vaccinatum. In case of other forms of rashes, the risk of medical complications is much less.
The prognosis for a rash
The prognosis mainly depends on the cause of the rash. An accurate diagnosis is, therefore, of great significance in predicting appropriate resolution.
Can you prevent rashes?
If the cause of a certain rash is known, it definitely can be avoided. For instance, measles vaccination would be of utmost benefit in preventing the rash of measles, along with more serious consequences of measles infections.