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Skin Irritation: Why Are You Red and Itchy?

You’re red, itchy, and have bumps all over your body. What’s going on? Chances are, you’re having some sort of dermal (skin) reaction. The key is figuring out if it’s an allergy, lack of moisture or something more serious.

Pruritus, the clinical name for itchy skin, is a major pain — literally. But it’s not the only irritation that patients present with.

Unless your red, itchy skin is accompanied by serious symptoms such as swelling, difficulty breathing or the feeling that your throat is closing up, a trip to the ER probably isn’t necessary. Keep in mind, those serious symptoms (swelling, difficulty breathing) often indicate a medical emergency. Whether you have a diagnosed allergy or not, get professional medical attention immediately.

When your skin condition is uncomfortable, but not severe, an urgent care clinic can help. What types of skin issues do these clinics routinely see? Take a look at the irritations that often irk patients.

Dry Skin

In extreme or serious cases, pruritus can cause symptoms that seem like more than a few flakes. Dry skin can cause redness, bumps, blisters, cracks or an overall scaly texture. It can itch intensely and even bleed. Bleeding is typically caused by excessive scratching.

Over-the-counter moisturizers and creams that can ease dry, itchy skin. But if these don’t work, a doctor or medical provider can prescribe a stronger topical solution. Along with helping to soothe the symptoms, the medical professional can also get to the root cause. The condition may have an obvious cause such as age, over-use of heating or cooling items, or taking long, hot showers. If the cause isn’t obvious, the doctor will need to investigate other possibilities.


If you had chickenpox, you could get shingles. The virus that causes chickenpox reactivates in the body, causing a blistering rash in one area or across your body. Even though the chickenpox virus cause shingles, chickenpox is not the same medical condition as shingles and does not look or feel the same.

Even though anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles, this disease is most common in older adults.

The symptoms of shingles often go well beyond simply itching. The rash may burn, tingle or feel overly sensitive. It’s common for the rash to blister and eventually scab over. Along with the red, itchy, blistery rash, shingle sufferers also often have flu-like symptoms.

The treatment of this disease depends on the severity. You may need pain relievers, corticosteroids, or anti-viral medication. After an initial diagnosis, you’ll likely have to follow up with a dermatologist or your primary care physician.


Unlike other dermatological conditions, scabies isn’t a reaction to something that has touched your skin. Instead, scabies is a reaction to something under your skin. Specifically, the Sarcoptes scabiei mite is to blame.

This mite is easily transmitted from person to person through direct skin contact. Mites are also passed on through bed linens, used towels, and shared clothing. If someone you live with has scabies, you have a high probability of also contracting it.

Scabies causes a pimple-like rash that itches. The itching may be worse at night. Scabicides are topical medications that kill the mites and the eggs. Only a doctor can prescribe a scabicide cream or lotion.

Due to the high likelihood of passing the mite on, get medical help right away. The doctor may also want to treat family members or other people who you live with or have come in skin-to-skin contact with recently.

Skin Allergies

There are a wide variety of skin allergies, caused by many different triggers. These allergies can range from small pumps or red patches to hives. Skin allergies often come from triggers that touch your body. This could include a lotion, perfume, body soap, laundry detergent, topical medications, or even jewelry.

Diagnosing the specific allergy is often challenging. Starting at the urgent care clinic can provide you with temporary relief until an allergist helps to make a definitive diagnosis.

Do you have a questionable skin irritation? Contact Premier Urgent Care Centers of California, Inc., for more information on getting relief.

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