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5 Types of Rashes and the Steps You Can Take to Treat Them

The many types of rashes can present in numerous ways. Interestingly, having COVID-19 can also provoke an onset of skin rash.

Woman rubbing an inflamed area of her left triceps with her right hand

Does your skin appear inflamed, discoloured or distorted from time to time? It could be a skin rash! Different types of rashes can, in fact, indicate an allergy towards the environment, or an allergy towards specific foods or medications. It can also be a sign of an unknown medical condition.

Let’s discover how types of rashes transpire and ways to address each of them effectively. 

Close up face of newborn baby with atopic eczema on the cheek
Sun exposure is a common heat rash trigger in babies.

5 Types of Rashes that Impair Quality of Life 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), skin appearance is a reflection of Lung health. If your organ system or the Spleen is compromised, it’ll make your skin vulnerable to pathogens – Wind Heat and Damp Heat – that cause rashes.

Sun’s out, rashes out 

A heat rash stems from an obstruction of the major sweat glands or ducts during hot and humid weather. Malaysians, we’re sure you can relate to this. It can happen at any age but is most common among infants in an excessively warm environment.

Notable signs of a heat rash are a red cluster of acne or small blisters. These can appear on several areas of the body, including the neck, upper chest, elbow creases, in the groin, or under the breasts.

A random yet chronic type of rash 

Despite being a chronic yet common skin condition, there are no known reasons as to why seborrheic dermatitis – a type of eczema – occurs. Also known as dandruff when it is found on the scalp, one possible risk factor of this condition is oily skin. An unusual growth of skin yeast is also characteristic of the condition.

The symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis are a red, scaly or oozing rash, and skin flakes on the scalp. In some cases, itching and white or yellow flaky, scales can also be seen. These may also be located on the chest, armpits, under the breasts, groin area, back, face, ears, or eyebrows.

You can have COVID-19 and a rash? Wait, what? 

Here’s a not-so-known fact – a person that tests positive for COVID-19 may also develop a rash that can manifest in multiple ways, including:  

  • A patchy rash 
  • Toe rash, referred to as “COVID toes” 
  • An itchy bump 
  • Chickenpox-like blisters  
  • Lace-like skin patterns 
  • Rounded and pinpoint skin spots 
  • Small and large patches 
  • A bunch-up of flat skin spots and raised bumps 

A recent international registry of 31 countries and 716 confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 found that: 

  • 22% developed a measles-like rash 
  • 18% developed pernio-like lesions – tender, itchy skin after being exposed to a cold or humid environment 
  • 16% developed an urticarial rash – itchy, red rash, or lumps 
  • 13% developed macular erythema – a flat, reddened area of skin 
  • 11% developed blisters 
  • 9.9% developed papular-squamous lesions – red or purple papules or plaques with scales 
  • 6.4% developed retiform purpura – branching plaques or skin patches with ulceration and dead cells 

Skin that’s more prone to damage than glass 

Exposing sensitive skin to irritants like hand sanitiser, soaps, household chemicals, or poisonous plants may trigger contact dermatitis within hours or days. Skin injuries or sensations after wearing jewellery made from gold or nickel can also indicate the condition. It’s advisable to seek treatment if you notice symptoms like: 

  • Itching 
  • Irritated, red and swollen skin 
  • Empty or liquid-filled blisters or bumps 
  • Skin that feels hot or tender to touch 

A rash that stings the skin? Ouch! 

Urticaria – popularly known as hives – is a rash that induces a burning or stinging skin sensation. It can affect any part of your body, move locations, take another shape, or even disappear and reappear. 

In addition, hives has two categories – acute and chronic hives. Acute hives usually last for a few days, while chronic hives can appear every few days and prolong over a few months.

Medication or food allergies can bring about this skin disorder. Stress and infections, too, may increase your risk of hives. 

Cut red sage roots displayed on a bamboo mat, and a wooden plate and spoon
Red sage can tackle the pathogens that provoke a rash.

3 Ways to Suppress a Rash Flare-Up and Live Worry-Free 

Dermatologists, paediatricians and infectious diseases specialists are just a few clinical healthcare providers capable of diagnosing a skin rash.

Firstly, they’ll attempt to identify the most prominent feature of your rash. Is it ring-shaped? Linear? Snake-like? Secondly, they may observe other traits, including the colour, density, consistency, shape, and tenderness of affected skin. Locating the distribution of rashes across the body is also necessary for providing you with a proper diagnosis. 

Prevention is better than cure 

You can incorporate a few key tips to prevent a rash flare-up. These will invigorate the Lung and Spleen, and will boost your body’s defense against the pathogens that trigger a skin rash. Keep your environment clean. Get sufficient sleep, eat a nutritionally balanced diet and engage in regular physical activity. Quit smoking to lower your risk of skin conditions that relate to inflammation.

Put your skin at ease with pharmaceutical remedies 

Usually, most types of skin rashes can clear up on their own or be calmed with over-the-counter (OTC) medications. These include: 

  • Moisturising lotion 
  • Antifungal medications 
  • Oral antihistamines 
  • Anti-itch cream that contains 1% of hydrocortisone 

However, if a rash persists or becomes widespread, it’s advisable to seek consultation with a clinical healthcare provider.

Traditional alternatives for a skin rash, anyone? 

Herbal formulas or ingredients can help manage the symptoms of multiple types of rashes. A licensed practitioner will prescribe suitable treatment options after diagnosing your individual syndrome. 

Si Jun Zi soup (四君子汤) invigorates Lung qi (vital life force) and strengthens Spleen function, boosting your immunity. Honeysuckle flowers (jin yin hua, 金银花) and dandelions (pu gong ying, 蒲公英) can remove Wind-Heat. Barley (yi yi ren, 薏苡仁.), Poria (fu ling, 茯苓) and formulas like Shen Ling Bai Zhu powder (参苓白术散) and Chu Shi Wei Ling soup (除湿胃苓汤) alleviates Dampness and fluid retention,” says TCM Physician Lim Sock Ling.

“A Blood or Yin (passive energy) Deficiency that results in internal Heat can be corrected with red sage (dan shen, 丹参) or peonies (chi shao, 赤芍). These do so by cooling blood and clearing Heat. Liu Wei Di Huang pills (六味地黄丸) nourishes yin to reduce internal Fire. Dang Gui Yin Zi (当归饮子) and Xiao Feng powder (消风散) relieves an itch by nourishing blood,” explains Physician Lim.

Do note that these recommendations are unable to treat rashes that are caused by an allergic reaction, bacterial infection, or autoimmune or genetic disorders.

A proper diagnosis can help healthcare providers differentiate your specific onset from other types of rashes. Traditional remedies are safe when used to treat a diagnosed syndrome. Herbs that fortify the immune system should be avoided if you have the flu.

Meanwhile, formulas or ingredients that nourish Blood and remove stasis need to be taken with caution if you’re on blood-thinning medications like aspirin and warfarin. 


  1. MedicineNet. 2022. Skin Rash. [online] [Accessed 24 May 2022] 
  2. MedicineNet. 2020. Skin Problems and Treatments: Guide to Seborrheic Dermatitis. [online] [Accessed 24 May 2022] 
  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association. COVID TOES, RASHES: HOW THE CORONAVIRUS CAN AFFECT YOUR SKIN. [online] [Accessed 24 May 2022] 
  4. BMC. 2020. An itchy erythematous papular skin rash as a possible early sign of COVID-19: a case report. [online] [Accessed 24 May 2022]
  5. Drugwatch. Rash and Skin Disorders. [online] [Accessed 24 May 2022]

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