Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

What Is This Rash?

Thursday, 15 Jul 2010 04:00 PM

Question: I'm 60 years old. I had a rash around my neck and chest area about a year ago. Benadryl helped. Lately I had a rash appear on my leg and I thought it was a bite. Then the spots spread to my arms, neck, and face. This rash is round, pink/red, and smooth except for the center which is like a hard pimple. My whole body itches slightly. The doctor doesn’t know what it is but says it isn’t hives.

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Like most rash problems, a picture speaks a thousand words. Often lesions that have a pimple-like center are localized infections, often times a staph infection. They are often resistant to multiple antibiotics and often require draining to clear up if local therapy is not effective or if an abscess is present.

Localized contact irritation, medications, detergents, fabric softeners, sunscreens, and allergy are common reasons for skin rashes, and are usually recognizable to an experienced eye without biopsy or testing. If not caused by an infection, your doctor has options that include biopsy to identify a rash. Recurrent rash without obvious reason should justify a consultation with a dermatologist (a consultant in diseases of the skin). Occasionally, recurrent skin conditions or even isolated pruritus (itching) may serve as a bellwether for the presence of internal disease, so any rash or itch that recurs should be evaluated by a professional.

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