Warmer weather means more time spent outside. Naturally, we’re wearing less clothing. Shorts, tanks and swimsuits are the uniform. It’s the perfect time to participate in activities that may involve contact with sand, grass, water and more.

All this exposure puts us at risk and could leave us with irritated, itchy, red or even blistered skin.

“A ‘rash’ is an area of inflammation that can have numerous causes. You could touch a troubling substance (contact dermatitis), have severely dry skin or be exposed to certain medications. In some cases, it can be a sign of a larger medical problem. The skin is acting as a warning sign,” said Dr. Jeffrey Zwerner, Senior Medical Director for Dermatology at Teladoc Health.

Common types of rashes

Athlete’s foot Tinea pedis, known as athlete’s foot, is a fungal skin infection of the foot. It’s itchy and the skin peels. It usually comes from contact with fungus from another person. Avoid bare feet in public showers or locker rooms. Keep your feet clean and dry. Don’t share towels, linens or shoes, and wear socks made of natural fibers or moisture-wicking fabric.1

Insect bites Mosquitos, fleas, biting flies, mites, bees, wasps, hornets, spiders, ticks and fire ants are some of the most common bugs that bite or sting. Although mostly harmless, some can be dangerous if you are allergic or the bug is carrying a disease. Cover exposed skin when outdoors and use insect repellant with 20%-30% DEET. Always read directions and follow instructions.2

Poison ivy, oak and sumac It presents as a rash of itchy bumps that can be angry, red and blistery.3 This is caused by coming in contact with the plant’s oil. Cover exposed skin when outdoors. Wash up with lukewarm soapy water and change your clothes as soon as you come inside.4

What do I do if I get a rash?

A lot of things that touch our skin may cause the area to be irritated. Common causes are metals and plastics used to make jewelry, eyewear or cell phones. Ingredients like fragrances found in household and skin care products5 can also irritate.

Where and when the rash appears can give clues. Were you in contact with new products or substances or a person who was recently ill? Did you come across a plant or bug?

Not all rashes are alike. Some may feel better using at-home treatments like:6

  • hydrocortisone anti-itch cream
  • oral or topical antihistamine
  • calamine lotion
  • colloidal oatmeal bath

If any condition is not improving or is worsening, you should make an appointment to see your doctor or dermatologist.

Warning signs

Rashes can be a sign of a much more serious condition and could be life-threatening, especially if caused by an allergic reaction. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends getting immediate medical attention if a rash:6

  • accompanies a fever
  • appears suddenly and spreads quickly
  • becomes infected
  • causes pain
  • covers your body
  • starts to develop blisters

Be on the lookout for and steer clear of possible irritants for a rash-free spring and summer.

Get started with Teladoc Health

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Published May 17, 2023


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