Rash (cont.)

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How are common skin rashes diagnosed?

The term rash has no precise meaning but often is used to refer to a wide variety of red skin eruptions. A rash is any inflammatory condition of the skin. Dermatologists have developed various terms to describe skin rashes. The first requirement is to identify a primary, most frequent feature. The configuration of the rash is then described using adjectives such as "circular," "ring-shaped," "linear," and "snake-like." Other characteristics of the rash that are noted include density, color, size, consistency, tenderness, shape, and even temperature. Finally, the distribution of the rash on the body can be very useful in diagnosis since many skin diseases have a predilection to appear in certain body areas. Although certain findings may be a very dramatic component of the skin disorder, they may be of limited value in producing an accurate diagnosis. These include findings such as ulcers, scaling, and scabbing. Using this framework, it is often possible to develop a small listing of the possible diseases to be considered. Below is a short discussion of some common categories of skin rashes:

  • Rashes produced by fungal or bacterial infection
  • Noninfectious, common rashes

Self-diagnosis of a rash is not usually a good idea. Rashes that quickly resolve are generally not dangerous. Proper evaluation of a skin rash requires a visit to a doctor or other health-care professional.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/6/2014

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