Itchy rashes are a rather uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing condition. The rashes can show up all over the body, in multiple areas, or in a specific place. The itch can be caused by a huge range of conditions and diseases, ranging from the benign (flea bites, dry skin) to serious (diabetes, kidney failure).
If caused by an internal disorder or autoimmune disease, the rashes are not contagious. On the other hand, if it is caused by a virus or fungi, it is transmittable. Read on for more info on the causes and symptoms of common skin rashes that itch.
What Causes Itchy Rashes?
Various skin conditions, internal disorders, nervous system disorders, and irritants can cause itchy rashes. Some pregnant women can experience them, as well.
The most common causes are non-infectious skin conditions. Some conditions can affect any part of the skin, while others are specific to certain areas. The most prevalent ones include:
- Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes a buildup of skin cells. The cells, in turn, cause scaling of the skin on the surface level. The scales are commonly white or silver and surrounded by red patches. It is not unusual for the patches to crack and bleed. Psoriasis most commonly affects knees and elbows, though it can be found pretty much anywhere on the body. It is important to point out that psoriasis is non-transmittable. Stress, alcohol, injuries, medications, and various infections can cause psoriasis. It can also be inherited.
- Eczema. This is a chronic skin condition characterized by inflamed and itchy skin patches. It affects babies, kids, and adults alike. It commonly appears on the back of knees, elbows, inner elbows, cheeks, scalp, and arms. It is not contagious. Itchy, rough, dry, inflamed, flaky, and irritated skin patches are the most common symptoms.
- Dermatitis. Dermatitis is a catch-all term for skin inflammations. Swollen, dry and red skin patches are the most common symptoms of dermatitis. The severity can range from very mild to severe. The condition is commonly caused by contact with an irritant, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and stasis dermatitis. This condition is not contagious, though stress, asthma, comorbidity with other health issues might worsen it.
- This condition is also known as dermatographia or skin writing. It appears as scratches that develop and disappear quickly. The scratches can either be white or red. According to experts, around 5% of people suffer from this condition. There is no cure for dermatographism at this time.
- A number of infections can cause itchy skin rashes. They include measles, fungal rashes (yeast infection, ringworm, jock itch, athlete’s foot, onychomycosis), lice, scabies, pinworms, and mites.
Aside from skin conditions, a number of internal disorders might cause skin rashes that itch. The most common include thyroid disease, kidney failure, leukemia, cirrhosis, bile duct obstruction, anemia, and lymphoma. Such itchy rashes are not contagious.
Nervous System Disorders
Some nervous system disorders have also been linked to itchy rashes. Like the ones caused by internal disorders, these rashes are not contagious. Some of the most common disorders that can cause rashes include neuropathy, shingles, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
Itchy rashes might develop during pregnancy, too. The affected areas usually include the arms, breasts, thighs, and abdomen. It is most commonly associated with pruritus, which happens to one in five pregnant women.
Various irritants and allergens can cause itchy rashes. Plants like poison ivy and poison oak are known to cause rashes. Mosquito, bed bug, and flea bites are also among the common causes. Certain food allergies (peanuts, wheat) and material allergies (wool) can cause itchy rashes too.
Common Itchy Rashes
Candida is among the most common rashes that itch. It’s usually found in skin folds in the buttocks, armpits, under breasts, and between toes and fingers. It starts with burning, itchy rashes that are red and wet. In later stages, the skin cracks, blisters, and forms pustules. The sores and pustules might be bacteria-infected.
Athlete’s Foot is one of the most common skin conditions. It affects non-athletes too. The condition is characterized by stinging and burning sensations on the sole of the foot or between the toes. Itchy blisters are also common, as are thick and discolored toenails. Raw skin on the foot is also associated with the condition.
Flea bites can happen to kids and adults. Commonly, they appear on the feet and ankles, as they are closest to the ground (and most accessible to fleas). The bites are usually grouped in clusters and appear as hard red bumps surrounded by red haloes. The symptoms start immediately after the bite.
Body lice are different from head and pubic lice. Sometimes, their eggs are visible on the body. The rashes are caused by the body’s allergic reaction to their bites. The bites manifest as itchy, red bumps. Commonly, the skin around them thickens and takes on a darker hue.
Jock itch is a fungal infection that’s mildly contagious and commonly found on the inner thighs. It is characterized by darkened patches of skin near the genital area. Constant itching, redness, and burning sensations are commonly reported. Cracking, peeling or flaking skin in the genital area is also common. The rashes tend to worsen with physical activity.
Besides athlete’s foot and jock itch, which are also caused by ringworm, this common fungal infection can appear anywhere on the body. It is usually manifested in the form of silver or red rashes. The rashes are itchy and may also be swollen, dry, or scaly.
Measles is an infectious viral disease that mostly affects children. Common symptoms include rashes, sore throat, loss of appetite, runny nose, and fever. The rashes are red and affect the entire body, spreading from the face down. It takes three to five days to fully develop.
Scabies is an infectious disease that can be transmitted via sexual intercourse. The symptoms can take between two and six weeks to fully develop if it is the first infection. They are characterized by itchy rashes and raised (flesh-colored or white) lines. The rashes can be scaly, pimply or blistery.
Sometimes, itchy rashes come and go quickly without treatment. However, if the rashes persist, make sure to pay your healthcare provider a visit for diagnosis and treatment.
After the checkup, you might be required to undergo some tests to determine the cause of the rashes. Depending on the cause and severity of the rashes, thyroid, skin, and blood tests might be in the offing. In addition, a biopsy might be necessary.