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Center of Dermatology and Laser Surgery of Philadelphia


Written by Dr. Ringpfeil



Rashes are skin eruptions with a wide variety of characteristics and causes. Many are benign, but some can indicate an underlying health problem. A large variety of rashes exist and many resemble each other in appearance. Therefore, diagnosis requires detective work and ample knowledge of the skin. Our experienced providers evaluate rashes on a daily basis, provide treatment for relief of symptoms, and understand when additional testing is necessary to ensure overall good health.


Rashes vary widely in their characteristics. Analysis of these attributes is critical in arriving at a diagnosis for the rash. The following is a list of important information that is helpful in diagnosing a rash:

  • Location
  • Duration
  • Symptoms
  • Appearance
  • Personal health history
  • Family health history
  • Current medications
  • Daily activities
  • Changes in skin care, beauty, or laundry products

When a rash cannot be diagnosed upon examination, additional testing may be required to narrow down the possibilities. Additional tests that are performed in our office include:

  • Cultures – to identify infection of bacteria or virus
  • Skin scraping – to identify fungal infection
  • Skin biopsy – to analyze characteristics of skin affected by rash under a microscope

Sometimes blood work is also ordered to identify or rule out any contributing underlying health conditions.

Sometimes blood work is also ordered to identify or rule out any contributing underlying health conditions.

Many rashes are benign, asymptomatic, and short lived. These rashes do not require treatment. However, other rashes can cause bothersome symptoms such as itching, redness, and even pain. Symptomatic rashes can be short lived or chronic. Treatment is possible to relieve symptoms and calm flares of chronic rashes. Oral and topical steroids, antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals are the most common treatments used to treat rashes at our practice.

The following is a list of the most common rashes we treat:

  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
  • Contact allergy (contact dermatitis) – nickel allergy, poison ivy
  • Insect bites
  • Psoriasis
  • Vitiligo
  • Fungal infection – ringworm, athlete’s foot, tinea versicolor
  • Viral exanthem – chickenpox, shingles, herpes simplex, molluscum
  • Seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff)

For more information about these specific rashes and conditions, please explore their individual pages under the medical section of our website.

Book an appointment for the treatment of rashes

Treatment Options

Treatment for rashes is determined by the symptoms and amount of body area affected by the rash. Frequently, topical steroids are used to reduce itching and inflammation caused by rashes. Oral antihistamines are also helpful in reducing widespread itching. Topical and oral antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals are used if infection is the suspected cause of the rash. Other topical, oral, injectable, laser, and light therapies may be used depending on the diagnosis of the rash.


It is always important to care for the skin gently, including luke warm showers, washing with a gentle cleanser (Cetaphil, Dove), and moisturizing the skin immediately after showering (CeraVe cream).

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The Philadelphia Dermatology Center serves patients in our local area as well as surrounding cities and out-of-town. Find the most convenient route to our Philadelphia office, by selecting an area near you.

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