What Rashes Mean to Dermatologists


Did you know that rashes are not diagnosed specifically. Usually it refers to skin inflammation or discoloration that is a symptom of another skin disease. Most commonly, these include eczema flare-ups, poison ivy, hives, and even athlete’s foot. Rashes can be caused by either bacterial infection, viral infection, fungal infections or parasites.

Rashes by themselves can be treated by over-the-counter products, however, dermatologists diagnose what caused the rash in the first place. It could be an underlying skin condition like a viral infection, or an autoimmune disease, or some allergen you may have come in contact with. If you have a rash that lasts more than a few days that you may not be able to explain, or if it is accompanied by a fever, you should see a doctor as it could be something more serious.

Healthcare professionals diagnose rashes using words like “circular” or “ring-shaped” or “linear” as configurations. Your dermatologist will also note the density, how large it is, if any tenderness is felt, the shape, the temperature and even how deep the redness is. Where the rash on your body is can also be important in the diagnosis – is it isolated in one area? is it scattered all over your body? are there specific body parts that are affected?

These questions all aid in diagnosing if your rash is part of a bigger problem. There are also certain factors like scaling, scabbing, or any formation of ulcers around the rashes. When your dermatologist has all these factors analyzed along with any disease history you may have, then they can start to develop a list of possible diseases that may be causing your rash. If further testing needs to be done, then your dermatologist can do some lab work, like blood sample testing or even a biopsy of the affected area.

If you have a rash that keeps persisting, please contact your healthcare provider to get a diagnosis.

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