Pruritic Rash: Common Causes and Treatment Options

For those of us who are a little confused by the name of this condition, the term pruritic rash can be loosely translated into “itchy rash.” A closer definition would be that pruritus is the irresistible urge to scratch a patch of skin. If you’ve ever suffered from a dermatitis-like rash then you can probably sympathize with how uncontrollable the urge to scratch can be. If you suffer from pruritic rash on a regular or recurring basis and haven’t sought treatment from a doctor, then you’re probably pretty curious as to what might be causing your skin to form such an irritating rash. Furthermore, you’re also probably desperate to find a treatment that works or even preventative measures that you can use to stop the rash from coming back. Keep reading to learn of a few of the most likely causes behind this type of rash and how these conditions can be treated and even prevented.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that is well known for causing an unpleasant pruritic rash. There are two main types of contact dermatitis, irritant and allergic, but both varieties share one thing in common: the formation of an itchy rash after contact with a specific substance. Contact dermatitis caused by an irritant usually involves an item that has chemicals or acidic properties that result in a burn-like rash. Diaper rash, which most infants suffer from at some point, also falls into this category, due to the acid-burn that can result from exposure to urine for a long period of time. This type of rash usually pops up soon after the skin has contact with an irritant like hair dye, latex, chemical cleaners and pesticides, or harsh industrial detergents. The chemical composition of these items can trigger an immune system response in the form of raised red bumps and patches on the skin that itch, burn, and are generally irritated.

Allergic dermatitis is caused by skin-to-allergen contact, that is, when the skin is exposed to something that kicks off an immune system response. The rash that occurs with allergic dermatitis is often made up of red streaks or patches of redness that are extremely itchy. It can take one to two days after contact with an allergen for the rash to show up, which can make it difficult for a person to identify the allergen. The rash can develop fluid-filled blisters that pop and become crusty or the skin may thicken and take on a grayish flakiness. People with allergic dermatitis may experience an outbreak due to contact with detergents, certain fabrics, lotion and body wash, dry weather, nickel, and poison ivy.

The good news is that contact dermatitis will go away on its own as long as the irritant or allergen is removed. To prevent future contact dermatitis outbreaks, try to determine the cause or causes behind the reaction and avoid them in the future. Temporary relief from itchiness can be obtained through the use of hydrocortisone cream. Benadryl can be a huge relief in cases of allergic dermatitis.


Psoriasis is another condition that is well known for producing a pruritic rash. Psoriasis is a condition that can affect anyone of any age, but it tends to show up more in people between the puberty age and mid-thirties. It is not a contagious condition, but rather it is passed down genetically through family members. On a technical note, psoriasis is considered to be an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system detects generally harmless things and considers them to be dangerous toxins. This causes inflammation of the skin resulting in thickness, redness, and a white-colored scaly coating. One of the traits of psoriasis is that the skin cells are produced too quickly which caused excessive buildup of dead skin cells.

A psoriasis flare-up can be trigged by a number of things, such as stress, infections, medication, excessive exposure to sunlight, and alcohol. Although there is no cure for psoriasis, the symptoms can be managed and prevented through the use of creams and lotions specifically targeted towards alleviating psoriasis outbreaks. For severe psoriasis, a doctor may administer an injection or pills to reduce the immune system’s overzealousness.


Folliculitis is a condition that isn’t talked about a lot, but most of us will experience it at some point in our lives. It is also very likely to produce a pruritic rash on a significantly affected area.  This condition is caused by a hair follicle or series of follicles that become inflamed, usually as the result of clothing irritation, excessive sweating, pore blockage, and shaving. The rash caused by folliculitis produces fluid filled bubbles, redness, and swelling around the affected hair follicle.

For minor folliculitis, the area can be treated by applying a warm, moist towel to the skin. The warmth and moisture can help to draw out the infectious bacteria causing the pimple-like bubble to pop naturally. After this occurs, the area should be cleaned using an anti-bacterial cream or gel and allowed to heal naturally. Most soreness and irritation will disappear within a few days after the follicle has been drained. If warm compresses do not help or the condition becomes worse then it may be necessary to consult a doctor to obtain a prescription antibiotic.