Rash: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

The word "rash" means a change in the color and texture of skin that usually causes an outbreak of red patches or bumps on the skin. In common usage of the term, a "rash" can refer to many different skin conditions. A rash can be caused, directly or indirectly, by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Alternatively, a rash may be unrelated to an infectious organism, such as from an underlying medical illness. Medications, chronic medical conditions, and allergic reactions (hives) are among the multiple different causes of rash.

Doctors use specific terms to describe rashes. A macular rash refers to flat, small red patches on the skin, while a papular rash refers to small raised red bumps. If both rash symptoms and signs are present, a rash is called maculopapular. Scaling, blister formation, or ulceration of the skin may be present with a rash. A rash with accompanying blisters is termed a vesicular rash. Itching (pruritus) may or may not accompany a rash.

Summary of Common Rash Symptoms and Signs by MedicineNet Staff
A review of our Patient Comments indicated that many people with a rash have similar symptoms and signs. A few patients mentioned that their rashes initially oozed, then scabbed over, and bled easily. Others reported that their rashes seemed to appear when the seasons changed, when they ate certain foods, or when they began a new course of medication. Many patients said that their rash began in one area of their body and spread to another area. Read on to learn more about rash symptoms and signs in our Patient Comments.

Related Symptoms & Signs

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2017
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