What is a rash?

No matter your age, you’ve probably experienced a rash at some point in your life. Rashes come in so many varieties.

What is a rash?

Sometimes the reason may be obvious (like a rash caused by poison ivy) while other times it can be really hard to put your finger on the root cause.

Rashes can be caused by an allergen or food irritant, clothing or household chemicals. Medications, poor digestion, or illness may also cause rashes or hives.

Some rashes come out of nowhere while others take several days to form on your skin. How long does it take for a rash to go away? Well, it depends on a few factors including what type of rash it is and how quickly the inflammation can be reduced. Some will go away as quickly as they appeared while others may linger for longer periods of time.

What Is a Rash? + Signs and Symptoms

A skin rash is a change of the skin which affects its color, appearance, and/or texture. A rash can also be defined as an area of irritated or swollen skin. A fancier, medical word for a rash is dermatitis. An itchy rash is called allergic contact dermatitis.

Rashes can occur all over the body. Sometimes they are very localized while other times they are widespread. There is a wide variety of symptoms and characteristics of skin rashes including:

Red or discolored skin

Raised, red welts

Red or discolored blotches

Red or discolored bumps

Ring shaped



A lacy and slightly raised patch of skin

Oozing sores that become crusty

Pus-filled, crusty swellings

Scaly or flaky skin patch

Thick and leathery skin patch

Types of Rashes

Saying you have a rash is not an exact medical diagnosis. Rather, it’s just a way of describing the skin inflammation and discoloration you are currently experiencing. You know that your skin does not look like it normally does, something is off and you may or may not know the true medical reason behind the rash.

There are many types of rashes that can better explain and pinpoint the cause of the change in your skin’s appearance. For example, some of the most common rashes include:

Atopic dermatitis

Contact dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff)

Diaper Rash

Poison Ivy




Heat rash

Stress rash



Sun rash

Before we get to how to get rid of a rash naturally, let’s look at the common causes and risk factors of a rash. The type of rash can also explain the cause of the rash. For example, if you have a stress rash, then the cause is stress, and a poison ivy rash is caused by poison ivy.

Causes and Risk Factors

In general, rashes are caused by skin inflammation which in turn can have many causes. One of the most common forms of a rash is contact dermatitis, which occurs when a substance of some sort irritates the skin. Contact dermatitis may cause mild redness of the skin or a rash of small red bumps. A more severe reaction may cause swelling, redness and larger blisters.

Common causes of contact dermatitis and its resulting rash include:

Poison ivy or poison oak

Soaps, detergents, shampoos, deodorants, perfumes and lotions, especially ones with danger synthetic scents

Household chemicals like bleach

Hand sanitizers

Latex allergy

Food allergies

Other common causes of rashes:

Viral infection (like herpes zoster)

Fungal infection

Bacterial infection

Parasitic infection (like scabies)





Lyme disease (commonly causes a “bull’s eye” rash)

Lupus (commonly causes a “butterfly” rash underneath the eyes and across the cheeks)

Bug bites

Bee stings

Excessive skin rubbing/friction

Prolonged exposure to heat (heat rash)

Prolonged exposure to moisture (diaper rash)

An allergy to a medication

A side effect or photosensitivity to a medication

What is a rash?

When it comes to rash risk factors, having a viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection all put you at greater risk for developing a rash. Also, a family or personal history of allergies or asthma raises your rash risk. Since rashes are commonly the result of contact with poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak or from insect bites then it’s not surprising that people who spend more time outdoors have a higher risk of developing a rash.


If you have a rash that lasts longer than a few days with no explanation or is getting progressively worse, it’s a good idea to see your doctor.

You should also seek immediate medical attention if you experience any additional symptoms such as:

Difficulty breathing


Tightness or itchiness in the throat

Increasing pain or discoloration in the rash area

Swelling of the face or extremities



Severe head or neck pain

Repeated vomiting or diarrhea

Contact your doctor if you have a rash as well as a sore throat, joint pain, a recent tick bite, a recent animal bite or red streaks/tender areas near the rash.

There are so many varieties of rashes, but they all involve inflammation and irritation of your skin. Thankfully, there are many tried and true natural ways to make that rash a problem of the past quickly and easily. Remember that your diet plays a big part in helping to improve a rash as does what you put on your skin on a regular basis.

Top Foods to Reduce Rashes

Organic foods

Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables

Clean lean protein

Flax and chia seeds

Cold-pressed oils

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