Everyone has had a rash at some point in their life. Whether it was poison ivy, a burn, or even an allergic reaction, these rashes can cause many unpleasant side effects. The proper treatment depends on the proper diagnosis and some of these rashes just take some time to fade away on their own. The most common skin rashes, including atopic dermatitis, pityriasis rosea, contact dermatitis, drug rashes, and heat rash, will all be discussed.

Top 5 Most Common Skin Rashes:

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Pityriasis rosea
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Drug rashes
  • Heat rash

Atopic Dermatitis

While skin rashes can be due to infections, temperature changes, or chronic skin disorders, by far the most common rash is atopic dermatitis. Most people call this eczema. This is a chronic condition that affects many people. It causes itching, skin peeling, and general inflammation. This rash appears in a patchy distribution that starts in the skin folds, such as in the elbow and knee pits, and spreads to the rest of the limbs and neck. It flares from time to time before receding. Patients with atopic dermatitis should avoid stringent detergents, soaps, or other irritants. Use creams and lotions to reduce flare-ups. If this becomes intolerable, see a physician for stronger treatment and for help tracking triggers.


  • Common skin condition known as eczema.
  • Most commonly appears in the skin flexures.
  • Can usually be controlled with mild lotions and creams. See a physician for intractable cases.

Pityriasis Rosea

This rash is also called the Christmas tree rash. It is an itchy, scaly rash that is preceded by what is known as a “herald patch.” This is a single patch that warns the patient that the full rash is coming. The rash will then spread to the back, chest, and limbs. The pattern on the back gives the rash its nickname. It will resolve without treatment but can take several months. While no treatment is required, medical lotions can reduce itching and speed resolution.


  • Preceded by a herald patch.
  • Resolves without treatment but takes several months.
  • Medical lotions can help with itching and speed recovery.

Contact Dermatitis

This can be a severe rash that forms when skin comes into contact with a foreign substance. The body responds with a rash at the site. This rash doesn’t itch but is very dry. The rash appears in the form of raised scales. Common triggers that will form contact dermatitis in everyone are harsh cleaning solutions and industrial solvents. The rash will appear worse at sites with thin skin, such as eyelids. Some people also have allergic contact dermatitis. Common triggers for this subtype include rubber and nickel. This allergic contact dermatitis will itch, or even blister. The treatment is to avoid the trigger.


  • Contact dermatitis is not itchy. Triggers include industrial chemicals and cleaning detergents.
  • Allergic contact dermatitis blisters and is very itchy. Triggers include nickel and rubber.
  • Treat by avoiding the trigger.

Drug rash

This can either be due to a side effect of the drug or a full-blown allergic reaction. While everyone will respond to medications differently, some drugs are more common culprits than others. Antibiotics such as penicilin, anti-seizure medications such as Levetiracetam, and diuretics such as Furosemide are common causes of drug rashes. Rashes will take 3-7 days to appear after ingesting the medicine and will spread to the entire body. The rash will resolve upon cessation of the drug. Some drug rashes can progress to Stevens-Johnson’s syndrome or Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis. For anyone developing a drug rash, see a physician immediately. These latter rashes can be life-threatening.


  • Antibiotics, diuretics, and anti-seizure medicines are common.
  • The rash will resolve upon cessation of the drug.
  • See a physician immediately because some rashes can be life-threatening.

Heat rash

This rash develops in hot temperatures due to clogged sweat pores that cannot release their contents. The rash appears as small, red popules that can sting when touched. Some papules may appear clear due to lack of inflammation. This rash will resolve when the heat dissipiates, but wearing loose clothing can help reduce the clogged pores and prevent the heat rash.


  • This rash is due to hot temperatures.
  • Clogged sweat pores may become inflamed.
  • Wear loose clothing and avoid the heat to prevent this rash from developing.


Ultimately, some rashes are more common than others. While most are benign, some are more serious. Make sure to see a physician with any concern. Proper diagnosis is essential for the proper treatment.