Pictures of common skin rashes, symptoms & treatments

No one wants to scratch an itch only to discover that a red, bumpy rash has cropped up, but the truth is that we’re all bound to get a rash at some point or another.

Luckily, rashes are common occurrences and can be treated relatively easily with the right knowledge and care.

Below, we’ll review different kinds of rashes and rash pictures to help you become familiar with some of the most common types of skin rashes, what you can do about them and when you should see a doctor.

Common rash pictures: Know what to look for

Common rash pictures: Know what to look for 

Here are some of the most common types of skin rashes. We’ve included common characteristics and treatment options for each condition, plus pictures of the rashes to help you identify and differentiate between them. 


Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a non-contagious skin condition that’s characterized by itchy, red and dry skin. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), eczema affects nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population.

eczema rash on hands

Source: Everyday Health

Unfortunately, eczema isn’t curable, but it is treatable. For many, the most effective short-term treatment is applying an anti-itch cream or a rich moisturizer and/or taking an oral allergy medication.

For eczema sufferers who can’t find relief through at-home methods, more powerful prescription topical and oral medications exist, such as hydrocortisone cream and Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), respectively.

If the patient’s affected skin has contracted a secondary infection, antibiotics may also be necessary (click here to learn more about antibiotics and when they should and shouldn’t be used).

Poison ivy, poison oak and sumac rashes

Poison ivy, poison oak and sumac are plants that can cause redness, blotchy spots, itching, blisters and/or swelling upon contact.

poison icy rash on skin close up

According to Mayo Clinic, poison ivy, poison oak and sumac rashes are caused by uroshiol, an oily resin that coats the plants.

Although washing your skin immediately after exposure can help reduce your risk of getting a rash, the uroshiol’s oily nature can make it difficult to wash off.

Over-the-counter washes designed to target uroshiol can be purchased at drugstores, but if you’re not able to use such a wash before the rash sets in, there’s little you can do besides treating the worst of the rash’s symptoms.

To soothe poison ivy, poison oak and sumac rashes, many turn to non-prescription anti-itch creams, which can help reduce itching. Other home treatments include cold compresses and oatmeal baths.

People with severe rashes, blistering and swelling should see a medical provider and may be prescribed a topical treatment.


Unlike superficial rashes, scabies is caused by microscopic burrowing mites that infest and lay eggs in the outer layers of the skin.

rash on hand spreading

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), scabies is usually spread through skin-to-skin contact with infected persons. Its most common symptoms are severe itching and a pimple-like rash, though tiny burrows can sometimes be seen with the naked eye.

Scabies is far from uncommon — the American Academy of Dermatology states that there are millions of cases worldwide each year.

Scabies mites can live for up to two months in a person’s skin, so scabies rashes won’t simply go away on their own in a short amount of time.

Currently, the only treatment for scabies is a topical prescription which must be obtained through a medical provider — no over-the-counter treatments exist.


According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis is a non-contagious skin condition that’s characterized by a red, bumpy and/or scaly rash.

hand on rash infected

Psoriasis rashes are often accompanied by burning, itching and stinging sensations. There are several types of psoriasis, with the most common being plaque psoriasis, which is identifiable by its silvery-white, dry and itchy rashes.

For mild cases of psoriasis, over-the-counter moisturizers, ointments and creams can provide relief.

For more severe cases, or for a particularly bad flare-up, prescription-strength topical and oral medications can be provided by a medical provider.

Tick bites

Ticks are small, bloodsucking parasites that populate every U.S. state in the form of one or more species, according to the CDC. Tick bite rashes can appear as a small red dot or can grow to resemble a large red bullseye.

Tick bite on leg

Since ticks burrow their head into the skin of their host, they will remain attached until they are engorged with blood or forcefully removed. The CDC recommends removing ticks with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, taking care to apply steady, even pressure without twisting or jerking. Directions are here!

Improper removal can cause the tick’s head or mouthparts to remain embedded in the skin. If those can’t be removed with tweezers, it’s necessary to seek medical attention to avoid an infection.

Red bullseye-shaped rashes like the one in the image above can be an indication that the tick has transmitted Lyme disease, a disease that can cause both short- and long-term symptoms such as fatigue, headache, chills, swollen lymph nodes and other flu-like symptoms.

To treat early-stage Lyme disease, patients are typically prescribed oral antibiotics, while late-stage Lyme disease can be treated with intravenous antibiotics, according to the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation. No over-the-counter treatments for Lyme disease are currently available.


Ringworm is a fungal skin infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, ringworm can trigger an itchy, circular, or ring-shaped rash caused by direct contact with another infected individual’s skin. 

The same type of fungus that causes ringworm is responsible for jock itch, which is a fungal infection in the groin region. It also causes athlete’s foot, which is a fungal infection that usually occurs between the toes.

Most cases of ringworm are relatively mild and easily treated with non-prescription topical anti-fungal creams, sprays or powders such as clotrimazole or miconazole. You should see a doctor if an over-the-counter anti-fungal doesn’t clear up symptoms after using it as directed, as a stronger anti-fungal may be needed.


Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral infection that causes an itchy, blistering rash. A fever and fatigue may also accompany the rash. The blisters tend to be small, round and fluid-filled. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, the chickenpox rash is a three-stage cycle. The rash begins as raised, red bumps, which then fill with fluid and burst. Finally, the blisters dry out, scab over and begin to heal.

Treatment for chickenpox includes various at-home therapies to relieve itching and discomfort, such as oatmeal baths, calamine lotion and over-the-counter antihistamines. It’s essential to resist scratching a chickenpox rash to prevent scarring and bacterial skin infections.

Seasonal rashes

Although rashes can appear at any time of year, some are more frequently seen during certain seasons. Here are the most common rashes for each season, some of which we’ve covered in this article:


The cold, dry air of winter can contribute to dry, cracked skin. The lack of humidity in the environment can worsen symptoms of some types of skin rashes. These include:

  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis


Spending more time outdoors during spring and summer means rashes related to plants, insects and sun exposure are more common during these seasons. 

Common spring skin rashes include:

  • Drug-induced photosensitivity occurs when a drug combines with sunlight to produce irritation or an allergic reaction.
  • Heat rash, which is a red, blistery rash caused by trapped sweat.
  • Lyme disease
  • Pityriasis rosea, which is a patchy, widespread rash that can linger for months.
  • Poison ivy, oak and sumac
  • The polymorphous light eruption is a raised, bumpy rash that’s caused by exposure to sunlight in some people.


The types of rashes common in spring are often seen during the summer, including: 

The heat of summer and many summer environments can also lead to the following skin conditions:

  • Chronic rashes
  • Eczema
  • Hives, which is an outbreak of swollen, red and itchy welts that form in response to an allergen or irritant.
  • Insect bites and stings, such as mosquito bites or bee stings.
  • Swimmer’s itch, which is a rash caused by burrowing parasites that are found in warm bodies of water.


Fall allergies and the cooler temperatures of fall can lead to an increase in:

  • Hives
  • Allergic reactions
  • Eczema and psoriasis
  • Pityriasis rosea

Rashes on babies & children 

There are several childhood illnesses that cause different kinds of rashes. The following conditions are seen mostly in babies and children.

Fifth disease

The fifth disease is a viral infection caused by parvovirus. According to the CDC, the infection results in a red rash on the cheeks of the face, known as a “slapped cheek” rash. The rash can be present on other parts of the body, but the cheek rash is the most common.

Other symptoms include fever, runny nose, sore throat or headache. Some people experience joint pain or swelling, as well.

Other than managing symptoms with over-the-counter medications, there is no treatment or recommended medication for the Fifth disease. Most cases of the Fifth disease are mild and resolve on their own.


Impetigo is a bacterial infection of the skin. It causes the affected skin to break out in red, fluid-filled sores, which itch, leak and eventually scab over and heal. The infection requires a doctor’s diagnosis and can be easily treated with oral and/or topical antibiotics. 

Hand, foot, and mouth disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a highly contagious viral infection that primarily affects children under the age of five. 

Symptoms include sores inside the mouth, rash on the bottoms of the feet and palms of the hands and fever. The rash looks like small, red, flat dots. It doesn’t itch, but it may blister and scab over. 

There is no treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease. At-home comfort measures, such as over-the-counter medication, can be used to manage fever and discomfort caused by sores.

Diaper rash

Young children still in diapers are prone to diaper rash. This rash is a form of dermatitis that causes red, inflamed skin in the diaper region, including the buttocks, genitals and thighs. It’s often tender and may be warm to the touch.

More frequent diaper changing and over-the-counter medications typically clear up diaper rash in a few days. More complicated cases may require a doctor’s prescription.

Scarlet fever

When strep throat presents with a rash, it is scarlet fever. According to the CDC, the bacteria that causes strep throat can produce a toxin that causes skin rash. The rash can appear anywhere on the body and starts as a red flush that turns into a rough, bumpy texture.

A doctor can administer a strep test to diagnose scarlet fever and antibiotics are prescribed to treat the infection.

Other rashes to be aware of


Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes redness or flushing on the face. Small, red bumps may also be present. 

People with this condition tend to experience flares that come and go. The Mayo Clinic lists heat, spicy foods, alcohol, stress and sunlight as triggers for rosacea flare-ups. There is no cure and avoiding triggers is the best way to manage flares.


There are two types of dermatitis: atopic dermatitis (eczema) and contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is acute and caused by contact with an irritant or allergen.

Contact dermatitis can be very red and inflamed and can occur on any part of the skin that contacts the irritant. It may or may not itch or be tender. 

Avoiding the irritant that caused the rash and using over-the-counter medications can help relieve discomfort.


The virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles. Shingles present as a painful rash that may or may not blister. If blisters are present, they eventually leak and scab over. The rash appears in one area of the body, usually on one side of the torso or face. Pain and tingling may occur before the rash appears or persist once the rash subsides.

Antiviral medications may shorten the duration of shingles, and at-home measures, like calamine lotion and oatmeal baths, may help soothe irritated skin.


Measles is a highly contagious respiratory virus that causes fever and skin rash. The rash begins at the top of the body and spreads downward. 

Lab testing is required to diagnose measles. There is no cure or treatment for measles.

Visit urgent care to identify skin rashes

Though some rashes can be successfully identified and treated by comparing the rash on your skin to the pictures provided here, some types of skin rashes must receive medical attention.

You should see a medical provider if your rash:

  • Covers all or most of your body.
  • Came on suddenly and spread rapidly.
  • Is accompanied by a fever or flu-like symptoms.
  • Begins to blister.
  • Is causing pain.
  • Appears to be infected.
  • Is shaped like a bullseye.
  • Isn’t showing signs of improvement after a few days.
  • Is unresponsive to over-the-counter treatments.
  • Is accompanied by symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, like difficulty breathing or severe swelling.
  • Is accompanied by an uncontrollable itch, as scratching can lead to infection.

An ongoing rash can also be an indication of a chronic skin condition and should be examined by a medical professional.

If you have a rash that needs medical attention, or simply want to treat your rash fast, a visit to one of our urgent care locations can give you the relief you need. You can walk in without an appointment, or save your spot online. We are open 365 days and during holidays. We’ll have you back to feeling better in no time.

*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please visit your local urgent care center to receive a proper medical diagnosis for your rash.

Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant

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