Skin rashes can be irritating, and not just because of the physical discomfort many cause. Even with the internet, identifying them can be a challenge given how many kinds of rash are out there. However, while rare rash-inducing tropical diseases certainly exist, more often than not, skin conditions are the result of more ordinary causes. If you have a skin rash, the odds are good that it’s the result of one of these conditions.
Also known as eczema, dermatitis and atopic eczema, atopic dermatitis (AD) is the scientific term for a severe and chronic form of eczema that appears as red and itchy patches of skin on the hands, feet, ankles, upper body and limbs. It’s common in children and can flare up as early as the first two or three months of life. The skin becomes dry, scaly and itchy, and constant scratching may result in scabs or the skin darkening or lightening where the AD tends to spread. While it’s rarer in adults, especially for a first case, it can happen. Between 10 and 20 percent of children and one to three percent of adults worldwide hav AD, and cases are increasing over time. Although the cause of AD is unknown, it’s tied to genetics, allergies and the immune system. AD is not contagious.
While AD can improve or disappear over time, there is no known cure for it. However, there are ways to treat it. Over-the-counter and prescription lotions, phototherapy, and immunosuppressive and biologic drugs that prevent the immune system from inadvertently attacking the body can all help reduce symptoms and the frequency of breakouts. While certain steroids can be used in extreme cases, they’re usually not recommended. People can also reduce their AD by avoiding potential triggers. While triggers vary from person to person, they may include stress, extreme temperatures and chemicals such as certain laundry detergents or hand soaps.