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What do I do if I have a rash?

If you have a rash of unknown origin, you want to clean and dry the area. Use a gentle soap, one with out antimicrobial properties, and pat the rash dry. Try to identify any possible agents that may have caused the rash. These may include the following:

  • New laundry soap
  • New dryer sheets
  • New clothes softener
  • New body soap
  • New cosmetics
  • New perfumes
  • Environmental exposures (plants, grasses, animals, pollens)
  • New medications

Do your best to identify the source of the rash and then consult with your primary health care provider to determine the best course of treatment. Don't just apply anti-itch cream as this can make some rashes worse. 

If at any time, you begin to experience shortness of breath, call 911 as this may be an indication of a severe allergic reaction that is affecting your airway. 

Most rashes are not dangerous. If you have a rash that is itchy you can use a topical corticosteroid lotion such as hydrocortisone 1%, which can be purchased over the counter. The symptoms may also improve with an antihistamine tablet such as Benadryl, Claritin or Zyrtec, which can also be purchased over the counter. If these simple remedies do not help or if the symptoms become more severe and there is any associated breathing difficulty, then prompt medical attention is recommended.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.