The term rash has no precise meaning but often is used to refer to a wide variety of red skin eruptions. A rash is any inflammatory condition of the skin. Dermatologists have developed various terms to describe skin rashes. The first requirement is to identify a primary, most frequent feature. The configuration of the rash is then described using adjectives such as “circular,” “ring-shaped,” “linear,” and “snake-like.” Other characteristics of the rash that are noted include density, color, size, consistency, tenderness, shape, and even temperature.

Finally, the distribution of the rash on the body can be very useful in diagnosis since many skin diseases have a predilection to appear in certain body areas. An accurate diagnosis of a skin rash often requires a doctor or other health care professional.

Here are some of the most common skin rashes and what may be causing them.

Atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis, often called eczema, is a common disorder of childhood that produces red itchy, weeping rashes on the inner aspects of the elbows and in back of the knees as well as the cheeks, neck, wrists, and ankles. It is commonly found in patients who also have asthma and hay fever.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a rash that is brought on either by contact with a specific chemical to which the patient is uniquely allergic or with a substance that directly irritates the skin.

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