Many skin rashes appear similar to a heat rash and Shingles is one of them. It is caused by the herpes zoster virus that remains dormant in most individuals only to become active when the immunity is compromised. Shingles is characterized by red lesions that form a band which takes weeks to heal. The lesions are extremely painful and might continue to cause discomfort for weeks, even months, to come. Today we will study some rashes that are like shingles but are not.
Rashes that mimic shingles
Heat rash is often mistaken for many types of rashes and shingles is one of them. Other rashes similar to shingles rash include eczema, psoriasis, chicken pox, poison ivy or other allergic rash, contact dermatitis and hives. Let us discuss each of these in brief:
Heat rash- Heat rash is characterized by red inflamed skin, with tiny pustules. The rash is seen mainly on the neck, groin, upper torso, armpits and ankles. It occurs when the sweat glands are blocked due to bacteria and the natural cooling system of the body does not function as it should.
Eczema– This is an itchy rash that arises in patches and is accompanied by dry and irritated skin. These plaques of dry skin are bumpy and could be present on the hands, face, legs, and pretty much anywhere on the body.
Psoriasis– As with shingles, psoriasis rash also forms patchy, red and inflamed pustules on the skin. The rash also develops pus filled blisters. Also, as days go by, the rash shows no signs of fading; instead it turns even redder and scalier over time and could even bleed.
Allergies– Allergic rashes can arise due to contact with any foreign substance that your body is allergic to include harsh detergents, poison ivy or poison oak etc. Much like shingles, allergic rashes are bumpy and oozing.
Hives– Hives is also a type of allergic reaction characterized by red, itchy, painful and swollen pustules that look like heat rashes, shingles and other common skin rashes. This type of rash can occur when the skin comes in contact with latex, detergent, sea food, certain drugs etc.
Ringworm/Tinea Rashes– A fungus causes these rashes which may appear anywhere on the body. They are characterized by raised, red, scaly circular lesions. The lesions have a central clearing where the hair shaft in the area may appear bent or broken due to the infection. Like shingles, ringworm rashes take a long time to disappear.
In conclusion: there are many different types of rashes that look like shingles but aren’t. Here is a picture of a mild shingles rash:
Treatment for common rashes
The best way to deal with any kind of rash is to identify it first. Once you have a diagnosis, you can take the right steps to counter the rash and prevent it from recurring.
- Lotions and moisturizers– The best way to treat most skin rashes is with the help of moisturizers and skin creams or lotions. However, make sure that you use dermatologically tested products only. Many commercial skin creams contain harsh chemicals that could worsen the rash. Go for calamine based lotions for most rashes. For eczema, your doctor might prescribe emollients.
- Corticosteroids– Over the counter corticosteroids provide relief from pain, swelling and itching that accompany rashes. Do avoid prolonged use of such products as they can lead to side effects.
- Antihistamines– These drugs help relieve pain and itchiness caused by common skin rashes. Many of these are topical but you may even need to take them internally. You could get drowsy due to certain antihistamines, so be careful if you plan to drive or operate machinery.
- Antifungal creams– For ringworm and other fungal rashes, use an antifungal cream to curb the spread of the rash. Make sure you also wash the clothing and personal items in hot water.
- Essential oils- Many essential oils are soothing and their analgesic and anti-inflammatory action can soothe the pain, itch and swelling that comes with a rash. Oils like Lavender, Chamomile and Peppermint are some of the best oils for skin rashes. Make sure you purchase the pure varieties only. Also, you must dilute the oils with carrier oils like coconut oil before use. Many essential oils are very beneficial in prevent severe nerve pain that accompanies a bout of shingles.
Important dos and don’ts regarding skin rashes
- If the rash persists for over 4 to 5 days do visit a dermatologist. Many different tests are readily available which can help confirm the exact diagnosis.
- Do not scratch the rash. It will cause secondary infections and could take longer to heal.
- For heat rash, it is important to keep the skin cool. So stay indoors, take cool showers and drink plenty of water.
- In case of shingles rashes close to the eye, seek immediate medical attention as failure to do so can cause permanent eye damage.
Some rashes form immediately while others may take a few days to develop. Irrespective, you need to take them seriously as some rashes can indicate an underlying health issue. Shingles rash can also recur year after year. Talk to your doctor about ways to prevent them.