What is Skin Inflammation?


What is Skin Inflammation?

Sydney Garrow

Written by Sydney Garrow

Sydney Garrow

Sydney Garrow

Sydney is a contributing health writer and editor who enjoys shedding light on health topics, making information available to anyone who wants it, and ending stigmas or lack of access to care and treatment.

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Reviewed by Dr. Katalin Karolyi

April 12, 2021 / Read Time 5 minutes

Skin Inflammation - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Your skin is your largest organ, and just like any other organ in your body, it can be susceptible to immune responses. 

Skin inflammation is any kind of response in your skin to infection, foreign materials, or disease. Essentially, skin inflammation is your immune system’s reaction to any kind of threat. 

Continue reading to learn more about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of skin inflammation, as well as when you should see a doctor.

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Symptoms of Skin Inflammation

There is a wide range of symptoms that fall under the umbrella of inflammation. Some of these include: 

  • Itchiness

  • Discoloration (e.g. redness)

  • Swelling

Why Does Skin Inflammation Happen? 

Wondering what causes skin inflammation? There are several cases in which skin inflammation can occur: 

  • Immune diseases

  • Allergic reactions 

  • Bacterial infections

  • Viral infections 

  • Sensitivity to light 

  • Heat 

Skin Inflammation and Immune Diseases

Certain immune disorders, like celiac disease, can cause a rash along with other symptoms. When those with celiac eat food containing gluten, they can experience dermatitis herpetiformis. 

In the case of psoriasis, your immune system triggers a response to normal, healthy tissues. 

Allergic Reactions and Skin Inflammation

You can have an allergic rash from: 

  • Medication 

  • Foods

  • Being in contact with certain irritants or allergens causing contact dermatitis 

Many people have one or several allergies to food or medications, so it is a good idea to get an allergy test done if you notice that you are experiencing skin inflammation after taking a new medication or eating certain foods. 

What is Contact Dermatitis? 

Contact dermatitis is when your skin comes in contact with an allergen that your body reacts to. Some common examples of irritants that might cause this include: 

  • Plants like grass or poison ivy/oak

  • Perfumes

  • Lotions 

  • Metals

You can also be tested for some of these materials, to see if your body is notably sensitive to specific irritants like crabgrass, or perfumed products. Many people find that avoiding certain triggers, or only using hypo-allergenic non-scented products, is enough to stop skin inflammation.

If you’re unsure of what you’re allergic to that is causing rashes, you can get online rash treatment to help deal with symptoms, and your doctor can order an allergy test for you, so you can learn what foods, medications, or products to avoid in the future. 

Genetics and Skin Inflammation

Certain skin conditions can be caused simply by genetics, such as eczema. Additionally, you may be predisposed to rashes due to immune disorders. There are at-home and over-the-counter remedies for these conditions, but you could also benefit from creating a long-term treatment plan for eczema and other genetic conditions. 

Bacterial Infection and Skin Inflammation

Bacterial infections can be yet another cause for skin inflammation. Some common examples include: 

These conditions are quite common in children, so if your child is experiencing skin inflammation, you may want to speak to their pediatrician about possible bacterial infections. 

Some additional bacterial infections that might cause skin inflammation as a side effect include: 

  • Erysipelas

  • Hot Tub Folliculitis

  • Furuncles

  • Carbuncles

  • Erythrasma

  • MRSA Skin Infections

Like with most bacterial infections, antibiotics can be incredibly helpful in combatting symptoms. For antibiotics, you’ll require a prescription, so if you believe that your skin inflammation is due to a bacterial infection, start talking with a doctor and get a prescription if necessary. 

Skin Inflammation and Heat 

As odd as it might seem, something as simple as heat can cause a rash on your skin. A heat rash is essentially when sweat gets trapped in your pores. 

Luckily, this form of skin inflammation can be easily treated by getting out of the sun, or using topical ointments or over-the-counter treatments. A doctor or pharmacist can help point you in the right direction of products to use. 

Viral Infection and Skin Inflammation

There are so many viruses out there, and many of them could possibly cause a variety of rashes, but consider some of the most common viral skin rashes: 

It’s important to remember that viruses are contagious, and in some cases even the rashes that they cause can be contagious. Speaking to a doctor about your symptoms can help you decide if you’re suffering from a virus. Afterward, you can get treatment, avoid spreading the virus to other people, and get prescriptions if necessary. 

Sensitivity to Light and Skin Inflammation

Another seemingly harmless everyday occurrence that could cause a rash is light. 

Some people might have a condition that makes them specifically sensitive to light (in which case they may want to speak to a doctor). In other cases, developing rashes to extreme light exposure is a somewhat normal immune response for your skin. When you are taking certain medications like doxycycline, you can be more sensitive to light too.

Read: What Are Skin Lesions?

Will My Skin Inflammation Go Away? 

This is a good question to work out with a doctor. Chances are, whatever skin inflammation you’re experiencing is going to have a solution and various treatment options. 

For example, if your bacterial infection is causing a rash, then antibiotics could help. Or if you’re having an allergic reaction, an over-the-counter medication like Benadryl can relieve symptoms, and avoiding the allergen in the future can prevent rashes. 

If you’re experiencing a rash that keeps coming back, or won’t go away, it’s definitely a good idea to speak to a doctor online and figure out what is causing your rash. 

How to Treat Skin Inflammation 

Treatment of your skin inflammation will vary depending on what is causing it. Some common treatments include: 

  • Topical Treatments - These include anything that can be applied directly to the affected area of your skin. Some examples of topical treatments include anti-itch creams (hydrocortisone or calamine), corticosteroid creams, and antibacterial or antifungal creams. 

  • Oral Medications - Prescription antibiotics, antihistamines, retinoids, and dapsone are all examples of oral medications that are used to treat certain skin rashes.

  • Home Remedies - While some skin inflammation requires over-the-counter medicine, a prescription, or care from a doctor, many rashes can be remedied with at-home treatments, like cold compresses, oatmeal baths, essential oils, and reducing stress.

When to See a Doctor for Skin Inflammation

If you are experiencing persistent rashes, and are unsure of what is causing them, seeking medical advice from a doctor might become necessary. 

If you are uncertain whether your skin inflammation is serious enough to call a doctor, consider some warning signs that your rash might require medical attention, such as: 

  • Rapid spreading 

  • Slow spreading across new areas

  • Blisters 

  • Fever

  • Swelling 

  • Pus

  • Difficulty breathing

Even if you are not experiencing any of these exact symptoms, if your rash has become unmanageable or painful, it’s easy to get a doctor’s advice online. 

Is Skin Inflammation Ever an Emergency? 

In some cases, a rash could be a warning sign for a larger emergency. If your skin irritation has spread or severely worsened, it’s a good idea to get advice from an online doctor, or even pay a visit to the emergency room or urgent care. 

  1. 1

    Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  2. 2

    See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  3. 3

    Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

Online Treatment for Skin Inflammation

Skin inflammation can be bothersome, but there are plenty of ways to relieve or even cure yourself of irritating skin rashes and abnormalities. If you want expert medical advice on how to handle any kind of skin inflammation, PlushCare can quickly provide you an appointment with an online doctor from one of the top 50 U.S. medical schools. A PlushCare physician can offer you a diagnosis, create your treatment plan, and prescribe you medication if necessary. Get rash treatment online from the comfort of your home in a matter of minutes.

Read More About Skin Inflammation


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