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Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

May 2020

Skin rashes in adults can be linked to diseases like Zika or German measles or they could be the result of a simple allergy. Therefore if a skin rash appears, you should visit a doctor in order to get a diagnosis of the cause so that the appropriate treatment can be started. Depending on the cause, treatment may include painkillers, anti-inflammatories or even antibiotics.  

The doctor will be able to check the rash and if there are other symptoms that suggest there may be a disease, and he will prescribe tests so that a diagnosis can be made. However, at times the doctor will be able to make a diagnosis of the disease just by looking at the rash.

The main causes for skin rashes are diseases, such as: 

1. Allergy

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: medium sized patches that can be red or white and that are very itchy and may be full of liquid. They generally appear after contact with plants, animal hair, or ingesting medicine but they may also be caused by insect bites or food poisoning.  

Treatment: the symptoms can be relieved with specific medication to treat allergies, such as: loratadine, corticosteroids (e.g. prednisone), or topical creams (e.g. promethazine), prescribed by a dermatologist.

2. Mycosis

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: patches that can be big and affect a certain area of the body. There may also be blisters and the skin in that area may be scaly. 

Treatment: the dermatologist may prescribe antifungal medicine and sometimes even antibiotics. 

3. Zika virus

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: little red bumps that are slightly raised and cause itchiness, which usually happens three days after the mosquito bite. The Zika rash usually appears on the face first and then spreads to the rest of the body in just a few hours and lasts about five days. 

Treatment: rest, hydration and medicine prescribed by a doctor to relieve symptoms and discomfort such as, dipyrone or paracetamol.

4. Eczema

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: the rash causes a lot of itchiness and can get swollen. This type of rash is very frequent in children and health professionals who wash their hands with antibacterial soap.  

Treatment: use of allergy medications like loratadine and application of ointments and corticosteroid creams prescribed by the dermatologist.

5. German measles

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: small, slightly raised bumps that cause itchiness. They normally start on the face and behind the ears, but they quickly spread through the body and last around three days.

Treatment: follow the treatment specified by the doctor, which may mean taking paracetamol until the illness is under control. 

6. Psoriasis

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: blotches that have a white centre with dry, red, flaky edges, which cause itchiness. They are more frequent in people under 30 and over 50 years old.  They are not contagious, but they are linked to genetic factors.  

Treatment: application of creams and topical anti-inflammatories recommended by the dermatologist, sun exposure and diet changes, such as avoiding fatty and processed food and increasing intake of food high in omega 3 and beta carotene.

7. Lupus

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: red patches that are flat or raised and appear anywhere on the body. They are more frequent in women.  

Treatment: corticosteroids and immunosuppressants prescribed by the doctor.

8. Rosacea

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: patches and little vessels that generally appear on the cheeks, forehead and nose. Besides the presence of a rash, the skin is also more sensitive, hot and swollen.  

Treatment: use neutral soap and moisturisers to control the redness. In some cases, a dermatologist may prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medication.

9. Scabies

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: a rash that usually appears on the hands and the armpits and is extremely itchy, especially at night.

Treatment: creams and ointments prescribed by a dermatologist in accordance to the gravity of the infection: Ivermectin, Crotamiton ou Permethrin. 

10. Heat rash

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: small red patches that normally have little red spots that cause a burning sensation and appear mainly on the face, neck, back, chest and thighs.  

Treatment: there is no specific treatment, but it is recommended that you keep the area cool and apply cold compresses when the heat rashes appear. 

11. Chicken pox

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: small blisters and patches that appear all over the body and cause a lot of itchiness. 

Treatment: plenty of rest and medication, such as paracetamol for the discomfort and Povidone-Iodine, to stop the blisters from getting infected. These medications need to be taken under your doctor’s supervision. 

12. Measles

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: small spots that are not itchy or painful but they spread all over the body. 

Treatment: plenty of rest, hydration and paracetamol under your doctor’s supervision.

13. Skin cancer

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: small spots or wounds that have an irregular shape, increase in size as time goes by and/or bleed a bit. 

Treatment: surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy according to the characteristics of the blotch identified by the doctor after examining them.

14. Atopic dermatitis

Skin rash: 14 health problems that can cause red spots

What the rash is like: rashes that are very itchy and may be scaly.

Treatment: creams and ointments with corticosteroids under your doctor’s supervision. 

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