Rashes aren’t generally known for being terrifying. In fact, Hollywood has yet to produce a B-grade horror movie called, “The Rash That Came From Nowhere,” or “The Rash That Ate Omaha.” So, rashes don’t really inspire a great deal of fear, but they are annoying and can be very uncomfortable. For some people (such as people with diabetes) they may even pose a significant risk if the skin breaks down (allowing infection to get in). But we don’t have to sit back and let rashes invade our skin unimpeded. No, no. There are ways to fight these annoying irritations.

Rashes can be caused by many things, but we can break these causes down into a few general categories:

  • Eczema – The term eczema may actually refer to pretty much any time the skin becomes irritated or inflamed. Some people experience flare- ups when under emotional stress, or when the skin of their foot encounters an irritating substance, such as chemicals found in socks or shoes.
  • Psoriasis – This is likely to show up as dry, flaky skin, which may bleed when scratched off.
  • Primary Irritant Dermatitis – This type of dermatitis shows up when the skin of the foot is exposed to a harsh substance, such as chemicals that may be found at work, or when people soak their feet in vinegar, bleach, or other strong substances without direction from a doctor.
  • Allergic Contact Dermatitis – Rashes of this sort form when the foot is exposed to something that (surprise, surprise) causes an allergic reaction. Poison ivy is a relatively common culprit, and some people may be allergic to dyes or other chemicals in socks or shoes.
  • Athlete’s Foot – Caused by a fungus, this type of rash thrives in moist environments (like sweaty feet).

Symptoms tend to vary depending on the type of rash you have. Typically though, skin becomes inflamed (red, warm to the touch, possibly a bit swollen) and itchy. Your skin may also appear dry, scaly, or may peel and crack. Or, pustules or blisters may form. (Perhaps Hollywood wouldn’t be so far off in making an “Attack of the Rash” movie after all, eh?) Rashes from athlete’s foot tend to show up along the bottom of the foot, or between toes.

Because rashes may have a variety of causes, your podiatrist may employ several different methods to determine from whence your rash hath sprung. He or she will likely ask you about your symptoms (such as how long you’ve been experiencing them, when they tend to show up, etc.) and will probably perform a physical examination of the affected part of your foot. If athlete’s foot is suspected, the podiatrist may take a scraping of the skin to see if fungus is at the root of your problem. If you or your doctor believe you’re experiencing an allergic reaction, you might need to undergo allergy testing to determine the exact cause.

How your rash is treated really depends on what is causing it. For instance, cool compresses tend to be beneficial for primary irritant dermatitis (which are basically chemical burns), while steroidal creams are often effective at toning down allergic reactions. Anti-fungal medications (creams, powders, or pills) may be prescribed to fight athlete’s foot. However, treating your rash incorrectly could make the problem a lot worse. So, whether you’re terrified of “The Rash That Came in the Night” or not, be sure to have it checked by a qualified foot doctor before you try to tackle it on your own.