What the 10 common skin rashes look like


A rash is an irritated or swollen area of skin that can be itchy, red, and painful, and can also include blisters, bumps, or rough areas of the skin. A rash is a symptom of a condition that can result from an allergy, toxin, infection, or a more serious systemic illness.

The appearance of the rash can vary from an almost occasional swelling of the tissues to the appearance of painful eruptions. Some outbreaks can be localized and others generalized. Sometimes the rash can be difficult to distinguish, even with an experienced eye.

Generally speaking, a rash can be classified as infectious or non-infectious, and there are many different types and possible causes.

Here are 10 of the most common rashes and how to spot them.



Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disorder that is chronic and inflammatory. It can be caused by stress, medications, infections, skin damage, and environmental factors like the sun. Between 1% and 8% of the world's population suffers from this skin condition.

Psoriasis occurs when the immune system improperly attacks the skin's own cells, causing inflammation and cell overproduction. A rash forms when new skin cells are produced faster than old ones can get enough sleep.

Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis. Symptoms include:

  • Red spots on the skin covered with thick silver scales.
  • Itching, burning, and / or pain
  • Peeling skin
  • Dry, cracked skin that can bleed when scratched

Plaque psoriasis is most common on the elbows and knees, as well as the scalp. Other types of psoriasis include pustular psoriasis (characterized by purulent lesions) and guttate psoriasis (seen mainly in children).

Psoriasis can often be diagnosed by its appearance, but a skin biopsy is sometimes required to confirm. Because there are no blood tests that definitively diagnose psoriasis, it may be necessary to rule out other similar skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis , lichen planus , pityriasis versicolor, or squamous cell carcinoma of the skin .

Treatment depends on the severity of the flare and may include topical steroids, immunosuppressants , and ultraviolet light therapy . Sometimes psoriasis can go away on its own without treatment and come back just as quickly.


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Shingles (shingles) is a painful rash caused by reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox . The lifetime risk of developing shingles can range from 20% to 30%, especially in high-risk groups , such as people with weakened immune systems .

Shingles usually appear later in life, and symptoms usually appear in two phases:

  • Pre-rash stage : Shingles often begins with a localized dull ache and increased sensitivity to touch.
  • Rash Stage : Soon after, there will be a build-up of small, painful blisters, many of which will burst and crust over. (Shingles are contagious during the blistering phase.)

Shingles almost always occurs on only one side of the body and is limited to an area of skin covered by a single spinal nerve, also known as a dermatome .

Shingles is also characterized by pain, the severity of which can range from persistent, stabbing discomfort to excruciating and profound pain.

In some people, shingles can cause long-term (and sometimes) persistent nerve pain, known as postherpetic neuralgia . This is especially true for the elderly and those without treatment for the condition.

It is important to see your doctor as soon as you notice the characteristic rash of fluid-filled blisters. Early treatment with antiviral medications such as Zovirax (acyclovir) can shorten the duration of the outbreak and prevent the rash from spreading to vulnerable parts of the body, including the eyes.

A highly effective shingles vaccine known as Shingrix (a recombinant shingles vaccine) was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2017. Vaccination is recommended for all adults over 50 years of age.

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