Sunday, June 24, 2012

Skin Rashes

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By Diane Forrest, RN

When I was young, I had a round red circle mark on my stomach.  My mother couldn't figure out what it was, so off to the doctor we went.  I was diagnosed with ring worm.  Ring worm is a rash that is acquired from animals.  The doctor prescribed some antifungal cream and told me to stay away from strange animals.  That wasn't a problem since I had almost been eaten alive by a stray Doberman Pincher that hung around my school yard; I kept as far away from animals as possible.

When my son was young, I took him on a trip to visit some friends.  It was summer time, and hot, and his diaper was wet, and he developed diaper rash on his hind end.  I placed him in warm water with an oatmeal soak, and then applied Destin ointment to the area.

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Then on his first birthday I baked him a wonderful clown cake, made with strawberry cake mix.  He loved the cake and dug right in, but when it came time to clean him up, the red spots wouldn't come off.  He was allergic to the strawberry cake, and broke out in hives, another skin rash.

A rash is a change of the skin which affects its color, appearance or texture. A rash may be localized in one part of the body, or affect all the skin. Rashes may cause the skin to change color, itch, become warm, bumpy, chapped, dry, cracked or blistered, swell and may be painful. The causes, and therefore treatments for rashes, vary widely. Diagnosis must take into account such things as the appearance of the rash, other symptoms, what the patient may have been exposed to, occupation, and occurrence in family members. The diagnosis may confirm any number of conditions.

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There are many conditions, foods and even medications that will cause a skin rash.  Some are listed below:
  • Food Allergy
  • Anxiety
  • Allergies, for example to food, dyes, medicines, insect stings, metals such as zinc or nickel; such rashes are often called hives.
  • Skin contact with an irritant
  • Fungal infection, such as ringworm
  • Reaction to vaccination
  • Skin diseases such as eczema or acne
  • Exposure to sun (sunburn) or heat
  • Friction due to chafing of the skin
  • Irritation such as caused by abrasives impregnated in clothing rubbing the skin. The cloth itself may be abrasive enough for some people
  • Menstruation
  • Secondary syphilis
  • Diseases such as Lupus

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Treatment differs according to what rash a patient has been diagnosed with. Common rashes can be easily remedied using steroid topical creams (such as hydrocortisone) or non-steroidal treatments. Many of the medications are available over the counter in the United States.  If you notice a suspicious rash on your body that doesn't heal in a couple of weeks, seek treatment from your physician before it spreads and becomes worse.

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