June 01, 2019

Common summer rashes

Beat the itch

With greater time spent outdoors in the summertime comes an increased risk of certain rashes. Here's a look at some of the causes.

Poison ivy, oak and sumac

A type of contact dermatitis occurs from contact with urushiol — an oil found in the sap of these plants. The rash, which may involve red, itchy areas that form lesions or blisters, usually appears within 48 hours of contact.

  • Prevention tips — Learn to identify these plants and avoid them. When hiking, keep your skin covered with longsleeved shirts, pants and closed shoes. If you think you've been exposed, gently wash the area as soon as possible with soapy water. Wash clothing that may have touched these plants.
  • Home remedies — Itching can be relieved with oatmeal baths, cool compresses or calamine lotion. A topical cortisone cream or ointment or an oral antihistamine such as diphenhydramine also may help.
  • When to see a doctor — If the rash is severe or widespread, if it involves the eyes, mouth or genitals, if the rash persists for more than three weeks or if initial treatments are ineffective.

Heat rash

This rash, caused by blockage of the sweat ducts, leads to inflammation and red, raised bumps. It's commonly seen in areas of friction with clothing, such as the upper trunk, scalp, neck, backs of the knees, and insides of the elbows, armpits and groin.