Health and Fitness

When Should You Seek Medical Advice About Your Skin Rash

Rashes can appear out of nowhere. Various factors can trigger the area of swollen, irritated skin, whilst others could be an underlying infection or disease.

Skin rashes are often associated with young children as it is expected they will likely develop one. These rashes, such as Chickenpox, are usually harmless and disappear after a few days without needing any treatment. Despite skin rashes in children being common, many often forget that adults are also susceptible to developing rashes.

These are some of the most common skin rashes in adults to be aware of.


Hives (or urticaria) are a prevalent type of rash. It is often a red or skin-coloured rash that is itchy and can sometimes sting or burn. When hives appear on the skin, they usually look like bumps or welts. Hives are not limited to one area. Instead, they can appear on any part of the body, changing shape, moving locations and disappearing and reappearing. Additionally, they will often disappear on their own, without the need for treatment or medical advice.

Those that experience chronic hives will likely have these rashes appear almost daily and can stay on the skin for months. On the other hand, acute hives can disappear after a few days. An allergy can sometimes trigger acute hives to food. However, additional causes include an allergy to a drug, infections, and even stress.


Eczema is a highly common skin rash that affects countless individuals. Those with eczema can experience itching, dry skin, redness, and a scaly scalp. The creases of elbows and behind the knees are where many will have eczema, but they can appear on any part of the body.

It is a recurring skin disorder that will require ongoing management to treat. This ongoing management will also help prevent a person from experiencing acute flares. Eczema’s appearance can also change as the condition progresses.


Psoriasis is an immune-mediated condition that causes a burning, flaky, itchy and scaly rash. It can sometimes look darker than the surrounding skin and occasionally appear purple on darker skin tones. Those with psoriasis have skin cells which grow too fast. When those with psoriasis have a flare-up, it often appears on their knees, elbows and sometimes their scalps. In some cases, it can appear in other locations across the body, including your fingernails.

There are specific symptoms and appearances for the different types of psoriasis. If you know someone who has psoriasis, your type of psoriasis and the symptoms you experience will likely look slightly different to theirs. Since it looks different, it is understandable that you might assume it is not psoriasis.

Psoriasis can be treated. It is possible to treat psoriasis with creams and oral medications, some of which can be prescribed by your GP. It is best to speak with a medical professional for their advice on your rash.


Lupus causes a person’s immune system to attack healthy cells and tissues. As it is a chronic illness, it can last a long time, and long-term treatment will be needed. Those with lupus will likely have a rash on their nose and cheeks. The rash can also sometimes appear in the shape of a butterfly. There are different kinds of lupus, including neonatal lupus and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common of them all.

When To Seek Medical Advice

Not all skin rashes require medical treatment. Some will appear as a reaction to food consumed, a product that has been used or the surroundings a person is in. When these allergy rashes appear, they will likely fade away after a couple of days.

However, some rashes could indicate a more concerning health issue. It is a health issue that will require medical advice about how to treat it and what could have caused the rash to appear on the skin. If any of the following applies to you, it is best to seek medical advice to identify the cause of your skin rash.

  • Spread Across The Body – When skin rashes occur, they appear on one area of the body. If the rash were to spread and cover an entire body, it is best to go to your GP. They can provide you with more information about what could be the cause of the rash.
  • Rash Is Painful – Most often, the only issue a person has with inflammation is how irritated the skin is. They desire to itch the rash to relieve some of the pain they are experiencing. With these rashes, they will likely disappear after a few days. Should the inflammation be very painful, seeking medical advice will be strongly advised.
  • Have A Temperature – If you have a temperature and a rash, seeing your GP and seeking medical advice are recommended. Having a temperature can indicate that you are either having an allergic reaction or that there is an infection. Visiting your GP could provide more information and possible treatments to help bring your temperature back down to normal.
  • Looks Infected – An infected rash is an unpleasant sight. The rash can appear swollen, pus might be seeping out, it could be warm, and it is excruciatingly painful. Should your skin rash start to show any of these signs, it is likely infected. Your GP can provide you with treatments to help with the infected rash and to help minimise the pain that it is causing.
  • Rash Begins To Blister – If your unexplained rash is formed of blisters or open sores, it could be caused by various factors. Some of these include an allergic reaction to something consumed or that touched your skin, a reaction to the medication you might be taking, or it could be caused internally. Should the blistered rash appear and affect any sensitive areas of the body, such as around your mouth, genitals or near your eyes, you should visit your GP. It could be a sign of bullous pemphigoid, most common in those over 60.
  • You Are Pregnant – Pregnancy can be an exciting yet nervous time. You want to ensure that you have no health issues or scares that could put either you or the baby in harm’s way. If you develop a rash during pregnancy, it is essential to seek medical advice. It could be that the inflammation is just a reaction to a cream that you have used. However, it is best to have it checked for peace of mind. If it is nothing, you can rest assured knowing that you and the baby are doing fine.

The Bottom Line

It is understandably an unpleasant experience to have a skin rash. Some people can feel self-conscious about it, especially in a visible area, such as on their arms or face. At times, a rash can be uncomfortable because the skin is irritated. Some of these rashes will likely disappear after a few days. However, if it stays longer, reach out for professional medical advice.

If a rash appears unexpectedly, with no changes to your routine, do not hesitate to seek medical advice if you are uncertain about what causes it. The points mentioned above will help you form an idea of what your skin rash could be.