Gallery of Common Skin Rash Pictures

Pictures of Common Rashes

What Common Skin Rashes Look Like

Are you wondering what kind of skin rash you have—and whether it's simply annoying or something more serious? This photo gallery features many common skin rash pictures to help you figure out which one yours might be. (Of course, always consult a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.)

"Spongy" Hives

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

When something—such as an allergic reaction, stress, or an infection—causes skin cells to release histamine, capillaries (thin blood vessels) leak fluid into the top layer of the skin, the epidermis. This causes parts of the skin to swell and turn into what are called hives. Depending on the amount of fluid that gets released, hives can look very "spongy" like this. Compare this picture to the next photo of hives.

Hives on Abdomen

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

This hives rash looks different than the hives rash in the previous picture. That's because these hives aren't as thick or as well-defined. Hives are diagnosed clinically, based on their typical appearance. Most cases of hives resolve on their own, and 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 infection of the upper layers of the skin that's 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 generally looks like it's made of small blisters. There is a less common form of impetigo that causes large blisters called bullae to develop. This form of impetigo 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 look like when the rash is first developing.

Shingles is a painful rash that's caused by the reactivation of the chicken pox virus. In the photo, 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 is confused with herpes, but herpes blisters are generally all the same size.

Early Shingles Picture

Rash Pictures - Shingles. Photo © Marie Griffiths

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

When the shingles rash 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 three categories:

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

This photo shows an example of chronic interdigital athlete's foot, which is the most common of the three types.

Ringworm Picture - Tinea Corporis

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

Ringworm, or tinea corporis, is a fungal infection. The rash is typically round, red, and raised. The entire border of the lesion is often scaly and sometimes the center is, too (as seen in the photo). 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 in the Southeastern states, although it has been found in most states. It is caused by an infection with the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii.

The rash that's associated with Rocky Mountain spotted fever usually starts around four days into the illness. Small, red, flat spots usually begin appearing on the ankles and wrists, and then move to the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, and the torso. As the rash progresses, it becomes bumpier. Approximately 10% of those who are infected never get a rash.

Classic Psoriasis Plaque Picture

Rash Pictures - Psoriasis. Photo © 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 usually preceded by a bacterial (often Streptococcal) or viral infection. In kids, 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.

Scabies Rash on Body

Rash Pictures - Scabies. Photo © CDC

Scabies often mimics other rashes. The person in this picture has scabies, but the rash looks similar to dermatitis, psoriasis, hot tub folliculitis, and pityriasis rosea. To make the diagnosis, a healthcare provider will sometimes scrape off a portion of the rash and look at it under a microscope. 

Chickenpox - Typical Early Lesion

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

These chickenpox lesions are in the early stage—around day three or four. Treatment options for chickenpox are limited. Unfortunately, this rash generally just needs to run its course. Since widespread vaccination against chickenpox began in the mid-1990s, the incidence of chickenpox and its complications have decreased dramatically.

Chickenpox - Close-Up of Day Six

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

This is a close-up photo of day six of the chickenpox rash. In people who have darker skin, chickenpox lesions may look more atypical. For example, some of these lesions look more papular (​small, solid bumps) then vesicular (fluid-filled blisters).

Pityriasis Rosea - Herald Patch

Rash Pictures - Pityriasis Rosea. Photo © CDC

Pityriasis rosea is a common, itchy rash that resolves on its own. Many times, the rash starts with something called a "herald patch," as seen here. A herald patch is a single 2- to 10-centimeter round or oval lesion that frequently occurs on the trunk. The herald patch often looks like ringworm. Within anywhere from a few days to several weeks, smaller lesions appear—mainly on the trunk, but can also spread to the arms and legs. The rash 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 ulcers. In areas of the skin that aren't moist, the ulcers crust over. There is usually no scarring when the crust falls off. This is also different from​ the chickenpox rash, 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 is also common among pregnant women, but that rash can affect anyone—pregnant or not). 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 six weeks and resolves on its own one to two weeks after delivery.

Continue Reading