Question: What is red and itchy, but can also be bumpy, lumpy,
Answer: If you said a rash, you're right!
Types of Rashes
A rash can also be called dermatitis (say: dur-muh-TYE-tus), which
is swelling (puffiness) or irritation of the skin.
It can be red, dry, scaly, and itchy. Rashes also can include lumps, bumps, blisters,
and even pimples. Most people have had a rash or two. When you were a baby, you probably
had diaper rash!
But some rashes, especially combined with a fever, can be signs of serious illnesses.
Hives, also called urticaria (say: ur-tuh-KAR-ee-ah),
also can be serious because they can be a sign of an allergic reaction and the person
may need immediate medical attention.
Hives, which are reddish or pale swellings, appear on a person's body when a chemical
called histamine (say: HIS-tuh-meen) is released in response to an
allergen. The trigger could be a certain food,
medicine, or bug bite. A virus also can cause hives.
Here are some other common types of rashes:
Eczema (say: EK-zuh-muh),
also called atopic dermatitis, is a common rash for kids. Eczema can cause dry, chapped,
bumpy areas around the elbows and knees or more serious cases of red, scaly, and swollen
skin all over the body.
Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by skin contact with something
irritating, such as a chemical, soap, or detergent. It can be red, swollen, and itchy.
Even sunburn can be a kind of irritant
dermatitis because it's red and might itch while it's healing.
Allergic contact dermatitis is a rash caused by contact with
an allergen (say: AL-ur-jun). An allergen is something you are allergic
to, such as rubber, hair dye, or nickel, a metal found in some jewelry. If you have
nickel allergy, you might get a red, scaly, crusty rash wherever the jewelry touched
the skin, like around your finger if you were wearing a ring.
(say: yoo-ROO-shee-ol), an oil or resin contained in poison
ivy, oak, and sumac, also can cause this kind of rash.
What to Do If You Get a Rash
Some rashes form right away and others can take several days to occur. When a rash
appears, you usually know it because it will start to bother you. If you develop a
rash, tell a parent or another adult as soon as you can. For instance, you might want
to see the school nurse if you are at school.
Try not to scratch. If you do, the rash may take longer to heal and you'll be more
likely to develop an infection or scar.
A visit to the doctor is a good idea if you have a rash. Although all rashes may
look alike to you, your doctor or a dermatologist (say: dur-muh-TOL-uh-jist),
a skin doctor, knows the difference. And knowing which kind of rash you have can help
the dermatologist choose the best treatment to heal your rash.
For eczema, the doctor may suggest special moisturizers called emollients
(say: ih-MOL-yunts). Emollients retain the water in your skin, keeping it soft and
smooth while soothing the itchy feeling.
For poison ivy, the doctor may recommend cool showers and calamine lotion. In more
severe cases, a liquid or pill medicine called an antihistamine might be needed. It
decreases itching and redness.
For rashes that are caused by an allergen, including hives, the doctor will probably
want more information. He or she will want to find out which food, substance, medicine,
or insect caused your rash or hives. The doctor might recommend a medical test to
determine which allergens are causing you trouble. It's important to find this out
because the best way to prevent rashes and hives caused by allergens is to avoid
the problem food, substance, medicine, or bug.
Prevention is also the name of the game when it comes to other kinds of rashes:
If a poison plant is your problem, learn what the plant looks like and avoid it.
It also may help to wear long sleeves and pants when you're camping
or hiking in the woods.
If bugs bug you, have a parent help you apply some insect
repellent when you'll be going outside.
For allergic dermatitis or irritant contact dermatitis, try to avoid that substance.
If you are allergic to nickel, wear only nickel-free jewelry. Or if you discover that
bubble bath bothers your skin, don't use it.
With eczema, stay away from harsh soaps that might dry out your skin. Also, make
an effort to moisturize your skin with creams or ointments. Short, cool showers are
a good idea, too, because hot showers and baths can further dry out your skin.
When it comes to sun, you should always wear sunscreen to avoid a red and itchy
Being a kid means getting a few rashes. But now you know what to do if you get
that awful itchy feeling!