Winter is often very harsh on the skin and the cold and dry weather brings on a plethora of skin issues. The chilly air outside and heated re-circulated air inside destroys the natural lipid barrier of the skin making it susceptible to pathogens as well as the elements. The result: many people develop a rash that looks like ringworm which may or may not be the case. Today we will study causes of recurring rash in the same spot, and consider all those factors that lead to rashes that look like ringworm but without the itch.
Different types of cold weather rashes
There are many factors that lead to cold weather rashes. Cold dry weather and extreme temperatures indoors and outdoors are definitely responsible. Woolen clothing can also abrade the sensitive skin leading to rashes. In case of cattle or caged domestic animals, ringworm flares up in winters as the animals tend to huddle up together. This spreads contagious skin diseases which even their human handlers could develop. Many infections such as as ringworm are zootopic , meaning that they could easily spread from animals to humans. Below are different types of cold weather rashes and common winter skin issues in humans:
As cold air strips off the skin off its natural barrier to make up for the loss the skin’s sebaceous glands work overtime and produce more sebum. The hardened sebum reacts with bacteria and debris causing inflammation of the hair follicles. This results in acne which may be present on the face, back and buttocks etc. Fortunately though, acne is very different from ringworm rashes as it consists of pimples, pus filled cysts etc.
Hives often look very similar to heat rashes, ringworm and eczema. A hives rash could start on the neck and face and even spread to other parts of the body. Thankfully, unlike ringworm, hives are not contagious.
Eczema and psoriasis rashes could flare up in winters because of extreme temperatures, tight woolen clothes and dry air. Use a thicker moisturizer in winters to protect the skin and provide a natural barrier against the harsh elements. Winter is especially challenging to people with sensitive skin as the skin becomes very dry and experiences recurring skin rashes.
4. Nummular dermatitis
Nummular dermatitis is another rash that goes away and comes back and looks very similar to ringworm. Like ringworm this condition leads to round lesions. The coin shaped rashes or sores may appear after an injury anywhere on the body. Nummular dermatitis leads to itchy rashes which may be soothed by using antihistamines or body lotions. There is also a condition called nummular eczema that differs from atopic eczema and can produce round lesions anywhere on the face, neck or upper body. While there is no cure for nummular eczema, one could use prescription strength creams and pills that can provide much needed relief from itchiness and redness.
What to do for rashes that go and come back?
Most rashes can be treated with topical products. Here are some general precautions to take for rashes that look like ringworm but aren’t:
- Apply cream or ointment at least once daily until the rash disappears.
- Continue applying the product for a week even after the rash has gone. This is necessary to eliminate the pathogens causing the rash.
- Bathe in warm water to eliminate germs. Do not use very hot water as it dries up the skin making it more susceptible to the elements. Reduce your shower times in winters.
- In case of ringworm, remove the flaking skin while bathing. Discard used loofahs and wash all used towels in hot water and mild bleach. Do not share your towel with other members of your household. Whatever items you have not tossed out, wash them and iron them or at least hang them out in the sun to eliminate germs.
- Avoid using harsh antiseptic soaps all the time as they kill good bacteria and decrease body’ natural immunity.
- Avoid using steroidal creams unless prescribed by your doctor.
- If the rashes do not show improvement seek medical help.
Many recurring rashes respond to dietary changes. Drink plenty of water and herbal teas to throw out toxins. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, the more colorful they are, the better it is for your immunity. Avoid milk, cheese, red meat and refined flour for a few days to see if your skin clears up. Many people have seen improvement in their skin by eating organic and limiting intake of sugar and gluten based foods.
There are many recurring rashes that look like ringworm but are not as itchy. If your body does not respond to the above changes and home remedies, see a doctor. You might need prescription medicine and even oral tablets. Take these as directed for the said duration. Remember: most fungal skin infections need persistence in treatment to heal completely.