Bumps, lesions, scales, and blisters can all be classified as skin rashes. They are most commonly the result of allergies or infection, though there are many possible causes. If left untreated, rashes may cause scarring or serious infection. A rash for which an individual cannot pinpoint a cause should be examined by a doctor; though often mild, rashes can precede some serious conditions.


Rashes are often caused by an allergic reaction to a drug; some medications can also cause sensitivity to sunlight resulting in a rash. The reaction may become visible right away or not develop for hours or even days after beginning the course of medication. Generally, drug-related rashes appear as hives or eruptions that are purple, red, or discolored, and may develop anywhere on the body, including inside the mouth. The skin of the affected area may also thicken. In rare cases, a rash induced by drugs can be fatal; any adverse reaction to medication should be addressed by a doctor.

Harsh Soaps And Hair Dyes

Fragrance and other chemicals in soaps and dyes are the most common causes of skin rashes. Anyone with sensitive skin should avoid using perfumed soaps or hair and body products with strong or synthetic chemicals. Likewise, anyone who dyes their hair should take care and always test a section of the scalp before wholesale application.

Prickly Heat

Prickly heat or miliaria rubra causes tiny, raised, red spots that create a prickling sensation. The rash develops when sweat blocks the pores. Though prickly heat may appear anywhere on the body, it primarily occurs on the neck, chest, thighs, face, and back, generally after a person has spent an extended period of time in the sun. The best way to prevent prickly heat is to wear loose, breathable clothes and avoid exposure to direct sunlight.

Skin Creams and Body Lotions

Anyone whose skin is prone to rashes should use products containing gentle and natural ingredients. Keep in mind that even all-natural lotions and creams can irritate the skin if they have powerful scents or other ingredients to which people are often allergic.

Scented Toilet Paper or Hygiene Products

The skin of the genital area is often sensitive, even in people who are generally not bothered by scented products. Scented toilet paper, wipes, and other genital cleansing products should be used with extreme caution or avoided completely. In addition to rashes, negative reactions in these areas can result in urinary tract and fungal infections. Feminine hygiene products such as menstrual pads and tampons with scent or color may have the same effect.

Anxiety and Stress

Many aspects of modern life are stressful, and heightened anxiety can lead to rashes or other skin changes. Dermatitis can develop as a result of persistent anxiety, depression, or stress, to which the body reacts with various chemical processes. Incorporating mindfulness practices such as breathing techniques or meditation, or beginning a regular exercise routine can help minimize these reactions.


Human cells have 23 pairs of chromosomes, which make up DNA. Instructions on how the body should develop and react are passed down from one's parents and can affect both internal and external body systems. Allergies and other issues that cause skin reactions are an intrinsic part of some peoples' biological makeup.

Household Cleaners

Cleaning products are meant to kill bacteria, viruses, and mold in the home and, as such, usually contain harsh chemicals. Always follow the instructions on these bottles, wearing gloves and other protective equipment as prescribed. Direct skin exposure to synthetic, and even some natural, cleaning supplies can cause rashes and other more serious topical conditions.

Poisonous Plants

Poison ivy is the most well-known but far from the only plant that can cause rashes and other topical infections. Along with sumac and poison oak, many plants can cause significant discomfort. Always take care when hiking or walking through areas with tall vegetation. Take precautions by tucking pants into socks or boots and avoid touching unfamiliar plants with bare skin. Thoroughly wash any itching skin after contact with potentially poisonous plants and carry appropriate treatments if you are not near medical care.

Laundry Detergent

Laundry and dish detergents are often to blame for itchy or painful skin rashes. Many people do not wear gloves when washing dishes, and issues caused by laundry detergent can be difficult to identify because the person is interacting with so many other substances while wearing the problematic clothing. Replace laundry soap that seems to be irritating the skin, and either wear gloves or purchase different dish soap. Most rashes caused by these products will heal in a few days once the offending product is removed.


Eczema is inflammation that causes itching and dryness and often prompts the individual to scratch, which further inflames the skin. While the exact cause is unknown, common triggers include soaps, synthetic fibers, detergents, wool, and stress. The condition is most common amongst babies and children, but adults can also experience it. Eczema is not contagious and is usually not serious, unless the irritated skin cracks, which can lead to infection.


Nickel is a metal to which many people are allergic. Skin reactions from the mineral can last for weeks and even cause permanent scarring. Severe cases may result in fluid-filled blisters or itchy, red patches that look like burns. People with sensitive skin or a known nickel allergy should confirm that jewelry and other items, such as belt buckles, do not contain nickel before buying or wearing them.


This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.