Read below about painful rash, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your painful rash from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Painful Rash

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced painful rash. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Skin Abscess

    A skin abscess is an infection of the deeper skin that's typically due to bacteria seen on the skin. Recently, infections are more frequently caused by Staph. Aureus (puts the "staph" in "staph infections"), which is dangerous and requires treatment.

    Good prognosis with treatment

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    rash with bumps or blisters, red rash, red skin bump larger than 1/2 cm in diameter, pus-filled rash, rash
    Symptoms that always occur with skin abscess:
    rash with bumps or blisters
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

    Eczema is a form of skin inflammation that causes skin to be dry, itchy, red, and irritated.

    This is a long-term, recurring condition but symptoms are manageable with care.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    trouble sleeping, feeling itchy or tingling all over, dry skin, scalp itchiness, flexor surface rash
    Symptoms that never occur with eczema (atopic dermatitis):
    fever
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  3. 3.Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis

    Toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) is a very rare but serious disease. It involves the skin and mucous membranes.

    Recovery is dependent on the extent of disease.

    Rarity:
    Ultra rare
    Top Symptoms:
    rash, rash with bumps or blisters, red-colored skin changes, painful rash, sore throat
    Symptoms that always occur with toxic epidermal necrolysis:
    rash
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  4. 4.Sunburn

    A sunburn is inflammation (a reaction by your body's immune system) caused by too much UV (ultra-violet) radiation, which is part of the sunshine. While the symptoms eventually go away, the cells of the skin are permanently damaged, and over time, the risk of skin cancer is higher. Further, the damage reduces the skin's ability to repair itself, speeding up the formation of wrinkles and other signs of aging.

    It typically resolves within 3-5 days for mild sunburns, and 7-14 days for blistering episodes

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    painful rash, red rash, itchy rash, warm and red rash, swollen rash
    Symptoms that always occur with sunburn:
    painful rash, red rash
    Symptoms that never occur with sunburn:
    fever
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  5. 5.Irritant Contact Dermatitis

    Contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes red, sore, or inflamed after direct contact with a substance. This condition most often affects skin of the hands, and may occur after repeated and prolonged exposure to substances such as water, detergents (soaps, bleach), solvents (such as gasoline), acids, powders, dust, and soil. The onset of the skin reaction is usually within 48 hours of coming in contact with the substance.

    1-2 days.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    rash with well-defined border, itchy rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin, painful rash, red rash
    Symptoms that always occur with irritant contact dermatitis:
    rash with well-defined border
    Symptoms that never occur with irritant contact dermatitis:
    fever, black-colored skin changes, brown-colored skin changes, blue-colored skin changes
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

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  6. 6.Non - Specific Dermatitis (Skin Inflammation)

    Dermatitis is the inflammation ("-itis") of the skin ("derma" is a layer of the skin). It can be caused by any number of causes, from allergies to infections to autoimmune issues. Dermatitis of Normal Variation (also called, "NOS") means that all of those other causes of your rash have been ruled out. This is very common.

    1-2 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    red rash, itchy rash, painful rash
    Symptoms that always occur with non-specific dermatitis (skin inflammation):
    red rash
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  7. 7.Skin Infection (Cellulitis)

    Cellulitis is a common and possibly dangerous skin infection if left untreated. It is typically caused by bacteria living on the skin getting into the skin itself.

    5 days with treatment

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    moderate fever, painful rash, red rash, feeling confused and not making sense while talking, abnormally high heartrate
    Symptoms that always occur with skin infection (cellulitis):
    red rash, painful rash
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

    Shingles (herpes zoster) is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus - the same virus that causes chickenpox. Early signs of shingles include burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching, usually on one side of the body or face. Rashes or blisters appear anywhere from one to 14 days later. If shingles appears on the face, it may affect vision or hearing.

    An episode usually lasts 2-4 weeks.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    symptoms of infection, dizziness, fatigue, rash, diarrhea
    Symptoms that always occur with shingles (herpes zoster):
    grouped rash, rash
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Pressure Ulcer

    Pressure Ulcer, or bed sores, are areas of damaged skin caused by staying in one position for too long. They commonly form where the bones come close to the skin, such as the ankles, back, elbows, heels and hips.

    Several weeks with treatment

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, loss of appetite, painful rash, butt pain, pain in one knee
    Symptoms that always occur with pressure ulcer:
    sunken area of the rash has broken the skin, rash resembling a pressure ulcer
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  10. 10.Boil (Furuncle)

    Boils are infections of a hair follicle that creates a small pocket of inflammation full of pus. It's typically caused by a common bacteria called S. Aureus.

    5-10 days

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    pink or red facial bump, small facial lump, painful facial bump, marble sized facial lump, constant skin changes
    Symptoms that always occur with boil (furuncle):
    pink or red facial bump
    Symptoms that never occur with boil (furuncle):
    fever
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

FAQs About Painful Rash

Here are some frequently asked questions about painful rash.

What does a meningitis rash look like?

A rash commonly associated with meningitis is called a petechial rash, and involves small, dark red or purple spots along the trunk or lower portions of the body. They can grow in size to large, purple bruise-like lesions and correlate with the destruction of platelets in the blood. Meningitis can be a life-threatening disease needing immediate evalutation and treatment.

Why does my child get a rash when they are sick?

Rashes are common among children and are often caused by interactions between the immune system and the skin. A physical examination and possibly a culture or blood test are necessary to determine the specific cause of a rash caused by an illness in a child.

Do shingles cause a painful rash?

Yes, shingles cause an often one-sided, red, raised rash. The area affected is extremely tender to the touch and continuous. It does not cross the middle of the body. It can be treated with pain remedies as the body brings the disease back under control through the action of the immune system. Sometimes the pain precedes the rash making the diagnosis more difficult at times.

Why is my painful rash itchy?

Itching may occur for many reasons depending on the rash. Some rashes itch because of an allergic reaction to a substance. For example, a poison ivy rash often burns and itches. Others may itch as the infection subsides and the rash begins to heal, for example, the final stages of a chicken pox rash.

Why do I get a painful rash after exercise?

You may be wearing clothes that are too tight and do not allow your sweat to evaporate. This can cause a "heat rash" along areas with tight fitting clothing. In other cases, hives or a rash following exercise are from cholinergic urticaria, which occurs after raising the body temperature. Exercise induced anaphylaxis, which is triggered only by exercise, causes slightly larger hives.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Painful Rash

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Are there bumps on your rash?
  • Q.What color is the skin change?
  • Q.Is your rash raised or rough when you run your hand over the area of skin?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our painful rash symptom checker to find out more.

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Painful Rash Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced painful rash have also experienced:

    • 13% Red Rash
    • 11% Warm and Red Rash
    • 4% Leg Skin Changes
  • People who have experienced painful rash had symptoms persist for:

    • 29% Over a Month
    • 27% Less Than a Week
    • 25% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced painful rash were most often matched with:

    • 53% Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis
    • 30% Skin Abscess
    • 15% Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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