What's That Rash?

When cold weather ushers in dry, red, itchy skin, you probably feel like an unlucky contestant on a rash-guessing quiz show: Is it dry skin...or some exotic flesh-eating bacteria you heard about on the news?

Credit: Dermnet.com

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Looks like: Anything from scaly, dry patches to gooey blisters and dry, leathery areas.
Caused by: There is no proven cause, but European scientists have found that people are genetically susceptible to it, and triggers can include certain fabrics, warm clothing, deodorant, soaps, excessive bathing or perspiration, and stress.
Feels: Intensely itchy.
Where: Often on the inside of knees and elbows, face, and neck, but can crop up anywhere.
Contagious: No.
Treatment: Keep skin moist. Take brief showers with warm (not hot) water. Apply moisturizer immediately after bathing when skin is still damp. Slap on the heaviest ointment you can manage. Over-the-counter anti-itch lotions and topical corticosteroids can soothe skin.
See a doctor if: It doesn’t clear up after vigilant moisturizing efforts, or skin is cracked and painful.

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