A: Skin conditions are among the most common reasons patients visit a primary-care doctor. About one in four Americans sees a doctor for skin disease each year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
“Rash” is a broad term to describe an area of irritated or swollen skin, often as a result of skin disease. Rashes can be contagious (ringworm, shingles, poison ivy) or noncontagious (eczema, hives, contact dermatitis), and they can have many different causes.
Although common, rashes present a challenge for some patients to be open with their doctors. Patients may find the location or symptoms of their rash embarrassing and may not want to talk about it.
But patients should not feel awkward talking about a rash or any other condition with their doctors. Having accurate information can help your doctor diagnose the rash and identify appropriate treatment options.
For primary-care doctors, most rashes are routine and treatable. Doctors are focused on treating the condition and not on judging the person behind the condition.
Patients also can take steps to ease their mind while visiting the doctor. The following tips can help patients become more comfortable sharing health information with their doctors:
Patients who do not seek treatment for their rashes risk their conditions becoming worse and posing a larger threat to their health. Primary-care doctors can treat common rashes and most skin diseases, but some rashes may be related to pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes or autoimmune diseases, and may require the expertise of a dermatologist or another specialist. Rashes can also be caused by insect bites or reactions to fabrics or chemicals, or exposure to plants or animals.
If you are experiencing a rash or another skin disease, talk to your doctor and be open about your condition.