The 5 Most Common Causes for Skin Rashes


There are a vast number of causes of skin rash, but one of the most common is contact dermatitis. This type of rash may be acute or chronic and occurs when your skin comes in to contact with an allergen. Surprisingly, many women and men are unaware that some of the products or items that they use every day could be causing skin irritation. If you notice an unexplained skin rash, be on the lookout for these five common culprits.

1. Jewelry Metals

Nickel and gold are two metals more commonly found in jewelry, buttons, and clasps, yet they are also two of the most common causes for skin allergy. Individuals with nickel allergy may have chronic rash in several notorious areas, including the earlobes, the fingers, and just beneath the belly button.

2. Fragrances

Fragrances found in perfumes, colognes and even some food products can trigger an allergic skin reaction. An example is Balsam of Peru, a well-known allergen that is found in many perfumes.

3. Preservatives

Preservatives are found in many items that we encounter every day, including foods, medications, paper products, shampoos and nail polish. Formaldehyde and quaternium-15 are two skin-irritating preservatives that often cause contact dermatitis, yet are commonly found on household ingredient lists.

There are a number of treatment options for skin rashes, including topical creams and ointments, oral medications and phototherapy.

4. Neomycin Sulfate

Many first aid creams contain neomycin sulfate, a topical antibiotic that frequently causes skin rashes. Many people are surprised to learn that they may be allergic to over-the-counter antibiotic ointments, such as NEOSPORIN® and bacitracin. For this reason, dermatologists traditionally recommend treating wounds with over-counter-petroleum jelly rather than store-bought antibiotic ointments. Of note, neomycin is also found in some soaps, deodorants and other cosmetic products.

5. Cobalt Chloride

Cobalt chloride is a metal used in medical products, deodorant and hair dyes. It can also be found in leather, cement, some types of blue pigment, and metal-plated items such as buttons and tools. Contact with any of these items can lead to contact dermatitis in people who have a cobalt allergy.

If you’re struggling to manage an acute or chronic skin rash, talk to your dermatologist about the best treatment options for you. Patch testing is performed by many dermatologists and is one way of evaluating for patient sensitivity to commonly encountered allergens.