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Causes of Rashes

The term ‘rash’ covers a very wide variety of both common and uncommon, temporary and chronic, mild and severe skin conditions.

What causes skin rashes?

Usually described under the general label of ‘dermatitis’, a rash is an area of skin that can be pink, swollen, scaly, itchy, bumpy, or have a different appearance than normal, uninvolved skin. There are variations in rash appearance depending on the underlying cause.

Common conditions that can cause dermatitis include:

  • Contact dermatitis: the rash is localized to where skin made contact with an allergen or irritant, such as a chemical, poison ivy, or soap
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: produces rashes that are typically scaly, affecting the oily patches on the face and body
  • Atopic dermatitis: another name for eczema, often starts in infancy, often in places where skin flexes, such as the elbows and knees

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