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What is the treatment for a rash?

Most rashes are not dangerous. Many rashes last a while and get better on their own. It is therefore not unreasonable to treat symptoms like itchy and/or dry skin for a few days to see whether the condition gets milder and goes away.

Nonprescription (over-the-counter) remedies include the following:

  • Anti-itch creams containing 1% hydrocortisone cream can be effective
  • Oral antihistamines like diphenhydramine and hydroxyzine can be helpful in controlling the itching.
  • Moisturizing lotions
  • Fungal infections are best treated with topical antifungal medications that contain clotrimazole (Lotrimin), myconazole (Mycatin), or terbinafine (Lamisil).

If these measures do not help, or if the rash persists or becomes more widespread, a consultation with a general physician or dermatologist is advisable.

There are many, many other types of rashes that we have not covered in this article. So, it is especially important, if you have any questions about the cause or treatment of a rash, to contact your doctor. This article, as the title indicates, is just an introduction to common skin rashes.

A word on smallpox vaccination in patients with rashes

People with atopic dermatitis or eczema should not be vaccinated against smallpox, whether or not the condition is active. Patients with atopic dermatitis are more susceptible to having the virus spread on their skin, which can lead to a serious, even life-threatening condition called eczema vaccinatum. In the case of other rashes, the risk of complications is much less. Consult your doctor about the smallpox vaccine.

Return to Rash

See what others are saying

Comment from: Jim, 45-54 (Patient) Published: August 06

Be careful about putting hydrocortisone cream on rashes until you are sure you know what it is. I put hydrocortisone on my eczema all the time and it works great but then I got a scalp fungus rash that also got on my ear and hydrocortisone made inflammation worse, so I had to get other fungal related treatments instead. If you get hydrocortisone though, go with the cream not the ointment.

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Comment from: wendy, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: March 31

I periodically get these itchy areas that start out as one red bump that resembles a bug bite. I unconsciously scratch it and then it will spread, currently it covers an area behind my ear and runs down the hairline onto the neck and another area covering most of my back. If I scratch one area it feels as if the itchy sensation is all connected under the skin like tentacles. I found if I rub down the itchy areas with a baby wipe about every hour it cools the area and it feels so much better. Once the area is dry I apply a hydrocortisone cream like Cortizone with moisturizer. After a day or so of doing this and refraining from scratching the inflammation goes down and the rash dries up. Then I continue the hydrocortisone cream with moisturizer until the skin peels and heals.

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Comment from: Don, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: March 03

I woke up with an itchy rash that came and went throughout the day and moved to different areas of my body. I found relief from the itching by rubbing tea tree soothing gel on the effected areas. It contains tea tree oil, aloe vera, witch hazel and other herbal extracts. It reduced the redness of the rash as well. It may not be a cure, but it did reduce the symptoms about 10 minutes later.

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