Treatments for a rash
Since there is no single cause for rashes, there is no single treatment.
Our first steps will be to work to identify why you have a rash and prescribe an appropriate treatment to either cure it or ease the symptoms.
Treatments are usually in the form of creams, ointments, gels or lotions that are applied directly to the rash, although you may need to take tablets, such as antibiotics or anti-histamines orally.
Treatments to stop itching
With many rashes, the biggest problem is itching. Scratching a rash will usually just make it worse and spread the symptoms over a wider area. What’s more, if you persistently scratch, you could end up causing long term damage to your skin and leave a permanent scar.
The best way to sooth an itch is to cool it down. Moisturisers kept cool in the fridge then applied to the skin can really help and be effective in relieving symptoms. A cold cloth or ice pack may also provide relief. You can also use a range of over the counter products to sooth your skin and calm itching, including those that contain camphor and menthol, or mild anaesthetics. Camomile lotion is an age old treatment that is highly effective in reducing itching, and can be applied as often as necessary to provide relief.
We may also be able to prescribe topical steroid creams and lotions, which contain hydrocortisone or stronger steroids, although not all rashes will respond to this treatment. Topical steroids are also limited by their ability to penetrate the skin, and so they will only be effective for mild surface rashes. Some more severe rashes may require a range of treatments including oral steroids.
Treatments to protect the skin
Some rashes, especially those associated with eczema and psoriasis, can cause your skin to become dry and cracked, leaving open wounds that can easily become infected.
We can prescribe a range of emollients and moisturisers that prevent drying and cracking. Many of these creams will also have anti-itching properties to stop you from damaging the skin around the rash.
Treatment for contact and allergy rashes
If your rash has been caused by contact with an irritant, or is an allergic response to food or other chemicals, the your treatment will be focussed on identifying the cause and helping you to eliminate it from your environment.
For example, if you are suspected of having a food allergy, all suspect foods will be removed from your diet, and reintroduced one at a time to see if they cause a reaction. Once the allergy causing food has been identified, you should not get any more rashes as long as you avoid it in the future.
A quicker way to identify what causes your food allergies is by having an allergy test. These are conducted by either placing concentrated amounts of the active ingredients in known allergens onto a small area of your skin and seeing if there is a reaction, known as patch testing, or by placing a drop of the allergen on the skin and making a scratch on the skin to see if a reaction occurs, known as prick testing. This kind of allergy test can also be done for contact allergies, such as those caused by detergents, perfumes and other chemicals. Blood tests may also help identify allergens causing eczema.
Treatment for infectious rashes
“Most rashes get worse if the skin becomes hot or irritated. To reduce the discomfort of any rash, avoid overheating the skin, keep cool, particularly at night, avoid hot baths or showers and use an over the counter soap substitute to cleanse the skin. If these simple measures have not helped or you feel unwell seek a medical opinion as you may require more specific investigations and treatment.”