Rash, Age 12 and Older
Most rashes will go away without medical treatment. Home treatment can often relieve pain and itching until the rash goes away.
If you have come in contact with a substance such as Reference poison ivy, oak, or sumac Opens New Window, immediately wash the area with large amounts of water.
After a rash has developed, leave it alone as much as possible.
- Use soap and water sparingly.
- Leave the rash exposed to the air whenever possible.
- Do not scratch the rash.
If you have a rash, you should not be in contact with children or pregnant women. Most viral illnesses that cause a rash are contagious, especially if a fever is present.
Relief from itching
- Keep the itchy area cool and moist. Put cloths soaked in ice water on the rash a few times a day. Too much wetting and drying will dry the skin, which can increase itching.
- Keep cool, and stay out of the sun. Heat makes itching worse.
- Try an oatmeal bath to help relieve itching. Wrap 1 cup of oatmeal in a cotton cloth or sock and boil as you would to cook it. Allow it to cool to room temperature, and use it as a sponge and bathe in cool water without soap. You may also buy a product at the store, such as Aveeno Colloidal Oatmeal bath.
- Avoid scratching as much as possible. Scratching leads to more scratching. Cut nails short or wear cotton gloves at night to prevent scratching.
- Wear cotton clothing. Do not wear wool and synthetic fabrics next to your skin.
- Use gentle soaps, such as Basis, Cetaphil, Dove, or Oil of Olay, and use as little soap as possible. Do not use deodorant soaps.
- Wash your clothes with a mild soap, such as CheerFree or Ecover, rather than a detergent. Rinse twice to remove all traces of the soap. Do not use strong detergents.
- Do not let the Reference skin become too dry, which may make itching worse.
- Take several breaks during the day to do a relaxation exercise, particularly before going to bed if stress appears to cause your itching or make it worse. Sit or lie down, and try to clear your mind. Reference Managing your stress by relaxing every muscle in your body, starting with your toes and going up to your head, may help your symptoms.
Nonprescription medicines for itching
Carefully read and follow all label directions on the medicine bottle or box.
- Try calamine lotion for a rash caused by Reference contact dermatitis Opens New Window, such as poison ivy or poison oak rashes.
- For severe itching from contact dermatitis, apply Reference hydrocortisone cream 4 times a day until the itch is gone. Do not use this cream on a fungal rash, because this can make the rash worse.
- Try an oral Reference antihistamine to help the scratch-itch cycle. Examples include chlorpheniramine maleate, such as Chlor-Trimeton, and diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl. Oral antihistamines are helpful when itching and discomfort are preventing you from doing normal activities, such as work and sleep. Antihistamines may cause drowsiness. Do not drive or operate any type of equipment if you are taking any of these medicines. And don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.
|Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:|
Talk to your child’s doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
|Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:|
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Reference Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
- Other symptoms, such as a fever, feeling ill, or signs of infection, are severe or become worse.
- A rash lasts longer than 2 weeks.
- Symptoms become more severe or happen more often.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference February 21, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Reference H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine