A rash is a skin condition that changes your skin’s appearance, such as its color or texture. Skin that feels hot to the touch is when an area of skin feels hotter than the skin elsewhere on your body.

There are several reasons why your skin could be having one or both of these reactions.

Different infections and skin reactions can cause rash and heat. Here are 16 possible causes.

Fifth disease

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Fifth disease in a young boy. Public Health Image Library
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Fifth disease in an infant. Gzzz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Symptoms include headache, fatigue, low fever, joint pain, runny nose, and diarrhea.
  • Children are more likely than adults to experience a rash.
  • It shows up as a round, bright red rash on the cheeks.
  • A lacy-patterned rash on the arms, legs, and upper body might be more visible after a hot shower or bath.

Read the full article on fifth disease.

Infectious mononucleosis

  • Infectious mononucleosis is usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus.
  • It mainly occurs in high school and college students.
  • Symptoms include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, headache, fatigue, rash, and body aches.
  • Symptoms could last up to 6 months but usually go away within 2 to 4 weeks.

Read the full article on infectious mononucleosis.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease

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Hand, foot, and mouth disease rash on hands and feet. weakiva/Shutterstock
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Hand, foot, and mouth disease rash on hands and feet. jade7117/Shutterstock
  • It usually affects children under age 5.
  • Painful, red blisters appear in the mouth and on the tongue and gums
  • It causes fever and flu-like symptoms.
  • Flat or raised red spots may be located on the palms of your hand and soles of your feet.
  • Spots may also appear on the buttocks or genital area.

Read the full article on hand, foot, and mouth disease.


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Child with chickenpox Grook da oger, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Child with chickenpox ANA VANESA GARCIA NARANJO/Shutterstock
  • It appears as clusters of itchy, red, fluid-filled blisters in various stages of healing all over the body.
  • Rash is accompanied by fever, body aches, sore throat, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
  • It remains contagious until all blisters have crusted over.

Read the full article on chickenpox.


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Cellulitis of the lower legs. Casa nayafana/Shutterstock
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Cellulitis of the lower legs. TisforThan/Shutterstock

Urgent care may be required

This condition is considered a medical emergency.

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  • It is caused by bacteria entering through a crack or cut in the skin.
  • It features red, painful, swollen skin with or without oozing that spreads quickly.
  • Skin is hot and tender to the touch.
  • Fever, chills, and red streaking from the rash might be a sign of serious infection requiring medical attention.

Read the full article on cellulitis.


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Measles on the torso of a child phichet chaiyabin/Shutterstock
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Measles on a child. Mike Blyth, 2002
  • Symptoms include fever, sore throat, red and watery eyes, loss of appetite, cough, and runny nose.
  • Red rash spreads from the face down the body 3 to 5 days after first symptoms appear.
  • Tiny red spots with blue-white centers appear inside the mouth.

Read the full article on measles.

Scarlet fever

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Child with scarlet fever and strawberry tongue, which is a bright red tongue with prominent papillae Pawel Wewiorski/Getty Images
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Child with scarlet fever rash badobadop, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • It occurs at the same time as or right after a strep throat infection.
  • There is a red skin rash all over the body.
  • The rash is made up of tiny bumps that make it feel like sandpaper.
  • There is a white coating on the tongue.

Read the full article on scarlet fever.

Rheumatic fever

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Facial erysipelas. CDC/Dr. Thomas F. Sellers/Emory University, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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Erysipelas of the ear. Evanherk, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • This complication is caused by an inflammatory reaction when the body starts to attack its own tissues, often after infection with group A Streptococcus bacteria.
  • Symptoms usually appear 1 to 5 weeks after a strep throat infection.
  • Carditis with inflammation of the heart valves is a common complication that may lead to chronic heart issues.
  • It causes joint pain (arthritis) and swelling that migrates from joint to joint.
  • Jerky, involuntary movements of the arm and legs, involuntary facial grimacing, and muscle weakness may occur.
  • Other symptoms include:
    • ring-shaped, slightly raised pink rash on the trunk
    • firm, painless nodules under the skin on bony surfaces
    • fever
    • abdominal pain
    • fatigue
    • heart palpitations

Read the full article on rheumatic fever.


  • This is a bacterial infection in the upper layer of the skin.
  • It’s usually caused by the group A Streptococcus bacterium.
  • Symptoms include:
    • fever
    • chills
    • generally feeling unwell
    • a red, swollen, and painful area of skin with a raised edge
    • blisters on the affected area
    • swollen glands

Read the full article on erysipelas.


Urgent care may be required

This condition is considered a medical emergency.

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  • This develops when the body has an extreme reaction to an infection.
  • It presents as a continuum of symptom severity in someone with probable or confirmed infection.
  • Common symptoms include a high heart rate, fever, shortness of breath, extreme pain, clammy skin, and confusion

Read the full article on sepsis.

Lyme disease

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Erythema migrans, or ‘bull’s-eye’ rash, may appear as one of the first symptoms of Lyme disease HeikeKampe/ iStock
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Bull’s-eye rash on the arm with Lyme disease. CNX OpenStax, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Lyme disease is caused by infection with the spiral-shaped bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi.
  • The bacteria are transmitted through the bite of an infected blacklegged deer tick.
  • Lyme’s wide range of symptoms mimic those of many other ailments, making it difficult to diagnose.
  • Its signature rash is a flat, red bull’s eye rash with a central spot, surrounded by a clear circle with a wide red circle on the outside.
  • Lyme disease features cyclical, waxing and waning flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, fever, chills, body aches, headaches, joint pain, and night sweats.

Read the full article on Lyme disease.

Contact dermatitis

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Contact dermatitis of the arm. vvoe/Shutterstock
  • It appears hours to days after contact with an allergen.
  • The rash has visible borders and appears where your skin touched the irritating substance.
  • Skin is itchy, red, scaly, or raw.
  • There are blisters that weep, ooze, or become crusty.

Read the full article on contact dermatitis.


  • Mumps is an extremely contagious disease caused by the mumps virus. It spreads by saliva, nasal secretions, and close personal contact with people who have the virus.
  • Fever, fatigue, body aches, headache, and loss of appetite are common.
  • Inflammation of the salivary (parotid) glands causes swelling, pressure, and pain in the cheeks.
  • Complications of infection include inflammation of the testicles (orchitis), inflammation of the ovaries, meningitis, encephalitis, pancreatitis, and permanent hearing loss.
  • Vaccination protects against mumps infection and mumps complications.

Read the full article on mumps.


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Herpes Zoster (shingles) of left thorax Zay Nyi Nyi/Shutterstock
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Shingles of the left forehead S and S Imaging/Shutterstock
  • This is a very painful rash that may burn, tingle, or itch, even if there are no blisters present.
  • The rash is made up of clusters of fluid-filled blisters that break easily and weep fluid.
  • The rash emerges in a linear stripe pattern that appears most commonly on the torso, but it may occur on other parts of the body, including the face.
  • The rash may be accompanied by low fever, chills, headache, or fatigue.

Read the full article on shingles.


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Psoriasis of the scalp. Egor_Kulinich/Shutterstock
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Psoriasis on the knees len4ik/Shutterstock
  • It has scaly, silvery, sharply defined skin patches.
  • It is commonly located on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back
  • It may be itchy or asymptomatic.

Read the full article on psoriasis.

Bites and stings

Urgent care may be required

This condition is considered a medical emergency.

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  • There is redness or swelling at the site of the bite or sting.
  • There may be itching and soreness at the site of the bite.
  • You may have pain in the affected area or in the muscles.
  • You may feel heat around the bite or sting.

Read the full article on bites and stings.

Contact dermatitis is a condition that develops when your skin is exposed to something that irritates it, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. This can result in both a rash and skin that feels hot to the touch.

Examples of things that can cause contact dermatitis include:

  • cosmetics
  • clothing dye
  • fragrances and perfumes
  • hair care products
  • latex
  • scented soaps

Additional symptoms that may come along with contact dermatitis include:

  • itching
  • swelling
  • redness
  • dry, cracked skin.

There are also bacterial infections, viral diseases, insect bites, and chronic skin conditions that can cause a rash and itchy, hot skin. These include:

Finally, if you’ve spent some time in the outdoors lately, raised and heat-flushed skin may be a result of poison oak or poison ivy exposure.

If you have sensitive skin, you’re probably familiar with uncomfortable itchy bumps and skin that feels hot to the touch.

Having a profession that places you in contact with strong chemicals and solvents can increase your risk of developing skin rashes and sensitivities that cause these symptoms.

If these two symptoms are due to contact dermatitis, they will typically subside if you stop contact with the irritant and cleanse your skin with gentle soap and cool water.

A rash and skin that is hot to the touch can indicate the beginning of a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock. Seek emergency treatment if you also experience:

  • shortness of breath
  • throat swelling
  • confusion
  • facial swelling

Children who have purple rashes that closely resemble a bruise may also need immediate medical attention.

Rashes and skin that is hot to the touch can sometimes indicate a skin infection or a harmful insect bite. Contact a medical professional if you also experience these symptoms:

  • fever
  • joint pain or sore throat
  • streaks of redness around the rash
  • symptoms that worsen instead of improving

If you don’t already have a dermatologist, our Healthline FindCare tool can help you connect to physicians in your area.

Treatments for rashes and skin that feels hot to the touch will address the underlying condition. If your rash is the result of a more complicated allergen or biting insect, your physician may refer you to a dermatologist who specializes in skin disorders.

Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream can help relieve some itching and heat. You can also take an antihistamine or other oral medication to reduce the effects of an allergic reaction. However, these medications may not be strong enough to reduce your symptoms.

A doctor will likely be able to determine what is causing your rash and skin irritation. Based on the cause, your doctor may prescribe a prescription antihistamine or hydrocortisone cream or recommend phototherapy to reduce your discomfort.

Home care

When you experience a rash and skin that is hot to the touch, keep the affected area clean and dry.

Refrain from scratching. Pat the area dry after cleaning it to avoid abrading the skin. Do not put any cosmetics or scented lotions on the affected area to avoid worsening the allergic reaction.

You can apply a cool compress using a soft washcloth dipped in a few tablespoons of baking soda. Once your rash begins to heal, you can use a hypoallergenic emollient lotion to create a barrier between your skin and your clothing. This will keep the area from becoming irritated again.

Choosing fragrance-free products is wise if you are prone to allergic reactions. When you go outdoors, protect yourself against ticks by applying insect repellents that contain anywhere from 20 to 30 percent DEET.

Taking a shower immediately upon coming inside and checking your body thoroughly for ticks can help to protect against Lyme disease.

If you’ve been outdoors in an area where ticks are present, tumble drying your clothes for at least an hour after wearing them can kill any remaining ticks on your clothing.

Things to avoid

There are several ways to avoid a rash and skin that feels hot to the touch. Avoid skin products and cosmetics that contain harsh chemicals and known allergens.

There are many products on the market today specifically created for people with more sensitive skin. If your skin is easily irritated, consider these options.

In some cases, the cause of skin irritation is dietary. Even if you don’t have an allergy to food components like dairy and gluten, you may still have a sensitivity.

Metals, such as nickel, also can cause contact dermatitis. Avoiding any materials known to cause a rash, such as latex and cleaning chemicals, can also help.

Once you have determined what’s causing your hot and itchy rash, it will be a lot easier to figure out how to get rid of it. Though these symptoms are uncomfortable, they rarely result in skin damage.

By keeping the affected area clean, dry, and away from allergens, it won’t be long before your skin feels back to usual.

In some cases, continually recurring dermatitis can result in patches of itchy skin that do not heal. Continual scratching or exposure to an allergen can worsen the condition of the skin. If the skin is not able to heal the way that it should, an infection can result.

Keep an eye on your symptoms and make sure that they resolve properly with treatment.