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 area of skin feels hotter than the skin elsewhere on the 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.

Warning: Graphic images ahead.

Fifth disease

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  • Headache, fatigue, low fever, sore throat, runny nose, diarrhea, and nausea
  • Children are more likely than adults to experience a rash
  • Round, bright red rash on the cheeks
  • Lacy-patterned rash on the arms, legs, and upper body that might be more visible after a hot shower or bath

Read full article on fifth disease.


Infectious mononucleosis

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Image by: James Heilman, MD (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Infectious mononucleosis is usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • It mainly occurs in high school and college students
  • Symptoms include fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, headache, fatigue, night sweats, and body aches
  • Symptoms may last for up to 2 months

Read full article on infectious mononucleosis.


Hand, foot, and mouth disease

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Image source: Image by: KlatschmohnAcker (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Usually affects children under age 5
  • Painful, red blisters in the mouth and on the tongue and gums
  • Flat or raised red spots located on the palms of the hand and soles of the feet
  • Spots may also appear on the buttocks or genital area

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


Chickenpox

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  • 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, and loss of appetite
  • Remains contagious until all blisters have crusted over

Read full article on chickenpox.


Cellulitis

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This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

  • Caused by bacteria or fungi entering through a crack or cut in the skin
  • Red, painful, swollen skin with or without oozing that spreads quickly
  • 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 full article on cellulitis.


Measles

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By Photo Credit: Content Providers(s): CDC/Dr. Heinz F. Eichenwald [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Symptoms include fever, sore throat, red, watery eyes, loss of appetite, cough, and runny nose
  • Red rash spreads from the face down the body three to five days after first symptoms appear
  • Tiny red spots with blue-white centers appear inside the mouth

Read full article on measles.


Scarlet fever

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  • Occurs at the same time as or right after a strep throat infection
  • Red skin rash all over the body (but not the hands and feet)
  • Rash is made up of tiny bumps that make it feel like “sandpaper”
  • Bright red tongue

Read full article on scarlet fever.


Rheumatic fever

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Image by: CDC/Dr. Thomas F. Sellers/Emory University [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
  • This complication is caused by an inflammatory reaction when the body starts to attack its own tissues after infection with group A Streptococcus bacteria.
  • Symptoms usually appear two to four 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, muscle weakness, and emotional outbursts may occur.
  • Other symptoms include ring-shaped, slightly raised pink rash on the trunk; firm, painless nodules under the skin on boney surfaces; fever; abdominal pain; fatigue; and heart palpitations.

Read full article on rheumatic fever.


Erysipelas

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Image by: James Heilman, MD [CC BY-SA 3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons
  • 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; and swollen glands.

Read full article on erysipelas.


Sepsis

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Image by: James Gathany Content Providers(s): CDC/ James Gathany [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

  • This develops when the chemicals released by the immune system into the bloodstream to fight an infection cause inflammation throughout the entire body instead.
  • It presents as a continuum of symptom severity in someone with probable or confirmed infection.
  • Common symptoms include a heart rate higher than 90 beats per minute, fever above 101°F or a temperature below 96.8°F, breathing rate higher than 20 breaths per minute and confusion

Read full article on sepsis.


Lyme disease

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  • 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 full article on Lyme disease.


Contact dermatitis

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Image by: Afrodriguezg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Appears hours to days after contact with an allergen
  • Rash has visible borders and appears where your skin touched the irritating substance
  • Skin is itchy, red, scaly, or raw
  • Blisters that weep, ooze, or become crusty

Read full article on contact dermatitis.


Mumps

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  • Mumps is an extremely contagious disease caused by the mumps virus It spreads by saliva, nasal secretions, and close personal contact with infected people
  • 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 full article on mumps.


Shingles

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  • Very painful rash that may burn, tingle, or itch, even if there are no blisters present
  • Rash comprising clusters of fluid-filled blisters that break easily and weep fluid
  • Rash emerges in a linear stripe pattern that appears most commonly on the torso, but may occur on other parts of the body, including the face
  • Rash may be accompanied by low fever, chills, headache, or fatigue

Read full article on shingles.


Psoriasis

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  • Scaly, silvery, sharply defined skin patches
  • Commonly located on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back
  • May be itchy or asymptomatic

Read full article on psoriasis.


Bites and stings

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

  • Redness or swelling at the site of the bite or sting
  • Itching and soreness at the site of the bite
  • Pain in the affected area or in the muscles
  • Heat around the bite or sting

Read full article on bites and stings.

Contact dermatitis is a condition that develops when your skin is exposed to something that irritates it. 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, and 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.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some people are more at risk for this experience than others. Infants are the most susceptible to rashes on their skin. People with long-term health conditions such as HIV and Parkinson’s are also more at risk.

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, or 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

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 to 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 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 that are 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 determine 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 the skin feels normal again.

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.

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