Rash Pictures

Pictures of Common Rashes

"Spongy" Hives

Rash Pictures - Hives. Photo © Heather L. Brannon, MD

Skin rashes can vary between life-threatening and just annoying. How do you know where your rash falls in that spectrum? This photo gallery shows many common rashes and explains a little about those rashes.

Hives are caused by fluid that leaks into the the top layer of the skin, the epidermis. Depending on the amount of fluid that gets released, hives can look very "spongy" like this. Compare this picture to the next one.

Hives on Abdomen

Rash Pictures - Hives. Photo © Heather L. Brannon, MD

This hives rash looks different than the previous picture. These hives aren't as thick or well-defined. Hives are diagnosed clinically based on their typical appearance. Most cases of hives resolve on their own so diagnosing hives doesn't usually require a lot of expensive blood or skin tests.

Impetigo Skin Infection

Rash Pictures - Impetigo. Photo © Heather L. Brannon, MD

Impetigo is a common bacterial infection of the upper layers of the skin caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria.

The most common form of impetigo often occurs on the face or limbs and is known for its "honey-colored" crust, which you can see here. This crust often looks like small blisters. There is a less common form of impetigo that causes large blisters, called bullae. This form tends to occur more in newborns and younger children.

Early Shingles Rash

Rash Pictures - Shingles. Photo © German Green Cross Association

This picture shows what shingles looks like early in the development of the rash.

Shingles is a painful rash caused by the reactivation of the chicken pox virus. This is an example of an early shingles rash. Notice how red the skin underneath the blisters is. Another characteristic of an early shingles outbreak is that the blisters are different sizes. Sometimes shingles might be confused with herpes, but the blisters in herpes are generally all the same size.

Early Shingles Picture

Rash Pictures - Shingles. Photo © Marie Griffiths

This is a photo of day 2 of a shingles outbreak.

When shingles erupts it causes the skin to turn red and then blisters begin to form. In this picture you can clearly see the redness under a crop of new blisters.

Athlete's Foot Picture - Tinea Pedis

Rash Pictures - Athlete's Foot. Photo © Dr. Gnu

Athlete's foot, or tinea pedis, is a common fungal infection. Athlete's foot is divided into 3 categories:

  • Chronic interdigital athlete’s foot
  • Chronic scaly athlete’s foot (moccasin type)
  • Acute vesicular athlete’s foot

This is an example of chronic interdigital athlete's foot, which is the most common type.

Ringworm Picture - Tinea Corporis

Rash Pictures - Ringworm. Photo © CDC/Dr. Lucille K. Georg

Ringworm, or tinea corporis, is a fungal infection that occurs on the body. The rash is typically round, red and raised. It's often scaly on the entire border of the lesion and sometimes in the center, too (as seen above). Ringworm can be effectively treated with oral or topical medications.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Picture

Rash Pictures - Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Photo © CDC

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a potentially fatal disease that occurs most often in Oklahoma and the South Atlantic states, although it has been found in most states. It is caused by an infection with the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii.

The rash associated with Rocky Mountain spotted fever usually starts around 4 days into the illness. It looks like small, red, flat spots starting most often on the ankles and wrists, and then moving to the palms, soles, and trunk. As the rash progresses, it becomes bumpier. Approximately 10% of those infected never get a rash.

Classic Psoriasis Plaque Picture

Rash Pictures - Psoriasis. Photo © iStockphoto.com/Tina Lorien

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that appears in many forms. The most common type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis and this is a picture of a classic plaque. Note that the borders of the lesion are well-defined. The hallmark of plaque psoriasis is thick, silvery scales on a red base.

Guttate Psoriasis of the Trunk

Rash Pictures - Guttate Psoriasis. Photo © A.D.A.M.

Guttate psoriasis is a common form of psoriasis in children. It is often preceded by a bacterial (often Streptococcal) or viral infection. In children, it typically resolves on its own after several weeks. However, it can persist longer in adults. Note that these lesions are well-outlined and have a small amount of silvery scale. This scaling is characteristic for psoriasis and often helps providers diagnose it.

Scabies Rash on Body

Rash Pictures - Scabies. Photo © CDC

Scabies often mimics other rashes. The person in this picture has scabies but the rash is also similar to dermatitis, psoriasis, hot tub folliculitis, and pityriasis rosea. To make the diagnosis, sometimes a healthcare provider will scrape off a portion of the rash and look at it under the microscope. Unfortunately, the mite is often not found in the scraping. If a rash is not improving as expected, the healthcare provider may do a skin biopsy to help decide what is causing the rash.

Chicken Pox - Typical Early Lesion

Rash Pictures - Chicken Pox. Photo © CDC/Joe Miller

These chicken pox lesions are in the early stage - around day three or four. Treatment options for chicken pox are limited. Unfortunately, it often just needs to run it's course. Since wide-spread vaccination began in the mid-1990s the incidence of chicken pox and its complications have decreased dramatically.

Chicken Pox - Close-Up of Day 6

Rash Pictures - Chicken Pox. Photo © CDC/J.D. Miller

This is a close-up of day 6 of the chicken pox rash. In people with darker skin, chicken pox lesions may look more atypical. For example, some of these lesions look more papular then vesicular.

Pityriasis Rosea - Herald Patch

Rash Pictures - Pityriasis Rosea. Photo © CDC

Pityriasis rosea is a common, itchy rash that resolves on its own. Often the rash starts with a "herald patch" as seen here. A herald patch is a single 2- to 10-cm round/oval lesion that often occurs on the trunk. The herald patch often looks like ringworm. Within a few days to several weeks, smaller lesions appear mainly on the trunk but can spread to the arms and legs. It rarely appears on the face, but has been reported on the face in children.

Herpes Pictures - Typical Lesions on Leg

Rash Pictures - Herpes. Photo © CDC/Dr. M.F. Rein and Susan Lindsley

This picture actually shows the three stages of the herpes rash. The initial rash is a cluster of vesicles on a red base. These blisters are delicate and open easily, creating an ulcer. In areas of the skin that aren't moist, the ulcer crusts over. There is usually no scarring when the crust falls off. This is also different from chicken pox, which may leave a scar after it heals.

PUPPP - Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy

Rash Pictures - PUPPP. Photo © Caliendo - Custom Medical Stock Photo

PUPPP, also known as polymorphic eruption of pregnancy (or PEP), is the most common rash that exclusively affects pregnant women (eczema also is common but it can affect anyone). PUPPP usually occurs in the third trimester. The rash appears like hives within the stretch marks and can spread over the thighs, buttocks, breasts, and arms. It lasts an average of 6 weeks and resolves on its own 1 to 2 weeks after delivery.

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