CREDIT: Rash photo via Shutterstock
"The Healthy Geezer" answers questions about health and aging in his weekly column.
Question: What causes rashes?
Answer: The most common cause of a rash is contact dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin that comes from direct contact with irritants or allergens. A red, itchy rash from contact dermatitis isn't contagious, and usually goes away in two to four weeks.
The cause of contact dermatitis is direct contact with irritants or allergens. These include: detergents, soaps, makeup, deodorant, clothing, chemicals, rubber, metals, jewelry, fragrances, plants and medicinal lotions.
There are two types of contact dermatitis.
Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by a substance such as bleach that irritates the skin. Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by a reaction to an allergen, which is a substance that induces an allergy.
If the cause of a rash isn't obvious, you may have to get a "patch test." During one of these tests, small amounts of possible allergens are place on patches that are attached to your skin for two days. If you are allergic to a tested substance, a bump will appear on your skin.
You should seek medical attention for a rash when it interferes with your sleep or your normal daytime activities, you are in pain, you think you have an infection, or home care hasn't worked.
If you scratch a rash for a long time, you can get neurodermatitis, a condition in which skin becomes thick. Persistent scratching can also lead to infection, scars or color changes in your skin.
To treat contact dermatitis you should:
The following are some common allergens:
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All rights reserved © 2012 by Fred Cicetti