Rash, Age 12 and Older - Home Treatment

Most rashes will go away without medical treatment. Home treatment can often relieve pain and itching until the rash goes away.

If you have come in contact with a substance such as poison ivy, oak, or sumac, immediately wash the area with large amounts of water.

After a rash has developed, leave it alone as much as possible.

  • Use soap and water sparingly.
  • Leave the rash exposed to the air whenever possible.
  • Do not scratch the rash.

If you have a rash, you should not be in contact with children or pregnant women. Most viral illnesses that cause a rash are contagious, especially if a fever is present.

Relief from itching

  • Keep the itchy area cool and moist. Put cloths soaked in ice water on the rash a few times a day. Too much wetting and drying will dry the skin, which can increase itching.
  • Keep cool, and stay out of the sun. Heat makes itching worse.
  • Add a handful of oatmeal (ground to a powder) to your bath. Or you can try an oatmeal bath product, such as Aveeno.
  • Avoid scratching as much as possible. Scratching leads to more scratching. Cut nails short or wear cotton gloves at night to prevent scratching.
  • Wear cotton clothing. Do not wear wool and synthetic fabrics next to your skin.
  • Use gentle soaps, such as Basis, Cetaphil, Dove, or Oil of Olay, and use as little soap as possible. Do not use deodorant soaps.
  • Wash your clothes with a mild soap, such as CheerFree or Ecover, rather than a detergent. Rinse twice to remove all traces of the soap. Do not use strong detergents.
  • Do not let the skin become too dry, which may make itching worse.
  • Take several breaks during the day to do a relaxation exercise, particularly before going to bed if stress appears to cause your itching or make it worse. Sit or lie down, and try to clear your mind. Managing your stress by relaxing every muscle in your body, starting with your toes and going up to your head, may help your symptoms.

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Nonprescription medicines for itching

Carefully read and follow all label directions on the medicine bottle or box.

Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:

Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Other symptoms, such as a fever, feeling ill, or signs of infection, are severe or become worse.
  • A rash lasts longer than 2 weeks.
  • Symptoms become more severe or happen more often.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

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