12 Common Skin Irritations: Their Causes, Treatment and Prevention


The primary defense of the body to protect itself from outside factors, including the elements, is the skin. The skin, to the surprise of many, is the body’s largest organ. Being the most exposed, it’s invariably the most susceptible to irritations and infections that can be caused by a wide variety of germs. Symptoms incurred can be mild which need little attention, to serious which would need medical treatment. The most common types of these irritations or infections are:

  • Allergies. Almost everybody has experienced this kind of irritation which can be caused by plants, reactions to foods or medications, and illnesses. The skin will manifest the occurrence through itchiness, bumps, redness, and more.
  • Bacterial. These are very common types of irritations caused by bacteria. The infections usually start with small red bumps which will gradually increase in size. The mild type if these allergies can be treated with topical antibiotics. For the more serious cases, the use of oral antibiotics will be required.
  • Fungal. The fungus is the main culprit for these kinds of infections. Tinea and Candida are two of the common fungi responsible for certain irritations. These organisms thrive well in the damp areas of the body. Most of these are not contagious and typically, are not life-threatening.
  • Parasitic. Such infections caused by certain parasites can go beyond the skin, entering the organs and bloodstream. They may not be life-threatening, but they can cause a lot of discomforts.
  • Viral. These allergies are caused by viruses, and their effect can go from mild to severe. The mild ones can be treated with over-the-counter medications and even home remedies. The more severe ones will require medical attention.


For those of us who are of age, we have gone through the acne phase. It’s an uncomfortable and embarrassing stage. Acne happens when the pores are clogged with oil and the dead skin cells become inflamed. Blackheads are related to this condition. Pores that stay open and become dark in color are blackheads, and those that are blocked are whiteheads.

Two culprits have been identified in triggering acne: bacteria and hormones. The effects usually prop up on your face, chest, and back. Pus-filled pimples and cysts are caused by the same. Keeping oily areas clean is an effective and easy way for control. Don’t squeeze as such may cause scars and infections.

Athlete’s Foot

This is a contagious fungal infection that thrives well in the skin of the feet although it can also find its way on the toenails and hands. The infection is prevalent among athletes as the name would suggest. It’s not life-threatening but often it can bring discomfort, and it’s hard to cure. Without proper care, it can recur. People who have an immune system that is weak should consult the doctor as soon as possible.

The tinea fungus is responsible for the occurrence of Athlete’s foot. This infection can be contracted by coming in direct contact with an infected person or by touching surfaces that are contaminated with the fungus. Topical over-the-counter medications can be used in treating athlete’s foot. If such treatments don’t work, the doctor may be prescribing prescription-strength antifungal medications which may be taken topically or orally. Recommended home treatments of the infection may also be considered.

Diaper Rash

This is another skin irritation that is common among babies. In the US alone, the condition is affecting about 35% of children who are under two years old. Almost no child is exempted from the condition as they will experience this at least once before they are finally toilet-trained. Diaper rash will cause discomfort and reddening when the infected skin rubs against the diaper.

When a child sits on wet or soiled diapers too long, diaper rash will occur. The condition can further be exacerbated if the child is suffering from diarrhea. Often, the first instance of diaper rash in children is brought about by the ingestion of solid foods for the first time or by the intake of antibiotics. Breastfeeding can also trigger diaper rash depending on what is passed on to the child by their mother’s diet.

Check on children now and then to see if they need diaper changes. Usually, they soil the diaper every three to four hours, and they need to be changed because the acidic nature of waste will allow yeast and bacteria to propagate. Also, note the diaper’s tightness. Improper fits will cause skin chafing, another form of skin irritation. Other causes of skin irritations on babies can include chemicals from detergents including the diaper’s themselves.

Creams that are derived from plants are recommended to prevent, or at least, ease the discomfort of rashes. Oatmeal cream, Aloe vera, and calendula can help against diaper rash, especially calendula, which is effective against the two most common causes of diaper rash, bacteria, and inflammation.

The usual ointments and topical creams are used to combat diaper rashes in children effectively. Antibiotic and antifungal creams are used to combat infections. Other medications that contain steroids should only be applied upon a doctor’s recommendation.


Eczema not only refers to a specific skin condition but is a general term referring to several conditions characterized by the inflamed, dry, itchy, and red skin. When infection sets into this condition, the skin can produce small bumps filled with fluids that would trickle out as a yellowish or clear liquid. This condition can be genetic as it may occur in families with allergy histories.

To this point, doctors are not sure what triggers out eczema, but they can have these reasons for their occurrence. These include irritants like soap, allergens, stress, and even climate changes. Areas where eczema usually occurs in between skin folds, hands, and elbows. Treatment can either be topical, oral or through injections.


The appearance of welts on the skin or tiny red bumps could mean hives. If the condition is acute, hives can last no more than six weeks or so. This type can be due to an infection or allergen exposure. Chronic hives can last beyond six weeks. Scientists are still unsure what causes this prolonged condition. But some factors like infections, extreme temperatures, allergy to medications, and foods can be probable causes of chronic hives.

Hive bumps could be uncomfortably itchy. They can burn and sting as well. The sizes vary and can sometimes occur together. They can appear anywhere on the body and may stay there for a few minutes to many days. Antihistamines are the most common medications to treat hives although skin creams can work as well.


This is a highly-contagious bacterial skin infection, and its most common victims are babies and children. Older people can still get the infection through direct contact with someone who has been infected. The Staphylococcus aureus bacteria is the culprit that causes impetigo. Although the infection is not considered serious, improper care can bring about complications.

The application of topical antibiotics can clear up impetigo in some days. Without treatment, the infection may clear up on its own, but there could be a greater risk of developing complications.


Psoriasis is one of the unsightliest skin conditions, and some can persist for long periods of time. The condition is characterized by red patches of thickened skin covered with silvery or white scales.

Doctors now know how psoriasis works. It’s caused by the immune system producing new cells but at a much faster rate. However, they still are in the dark on what causes it. Psoriasis patches can show up anywhere in the body, but the most common areas are the scalp, knees lower back, and elbows. They can be treated successfully but can recur, throughout one’s life.

There are various treatments available for psoriasis. These include creams, oral medications, ointments, injections, light therapy, and more.

Razor Bumps

These usually turn up after shaving. The sharp edge of a hair that’s been closely-shaved can curl back and grow into the skin. This may cause some irritation and discomfort and can result to pimples and on the extreme, even scars.

One can minimize the occurrence of razor bumps by taking a hot bath or shower before shaving. Shave to the direction of the hair’s growth and never stretch the skin when shaving. It’s recommended to use shaving foam or cream. Rinse using cold water after the shave then apply a good moisturizer.


This is a condition in which certain facial blood vessels enlarge, giving the nose and cheeks a flushed appearance. The redness can become deeper, and the appearance of blood vessels can be seen. Rosacea can result in bumps, pus-filled pimples, and thickened skin. Worse, it can even affect the eyes.

Experts still have no explanations on why this occurs but have enumerated related factors that may contribute to it. These include abnormalities in the blood vessels of the face and light skin color. Rosacea may also be caused by Demodex folliculorum, a microscopic mite or H. pylori, a bacterium. And finally, the occurrence may be genetics as patients may have a family history of rosacea. It’s best to consult with a doctor for this condition for a proper diagnosis of the cause and appropriate treatment too.


This skin infestation involves a mite known as the Sarcoptes scabiei. The parasitic mites can survive on the skin for long periods if the condition remains untreated. The nasty critters reproduce on the skin’s surface, then bury into it where they lay their eggs. Consequently, the host will develop red and itchy skin rashes. Scabies is highly contagious and can be passed to another person through direct contact. Using clothing or beddings used by carriers is another means of spreading the disease.

Although scabies can cause discomfort, it responds well to treatment. Killing the mites and their eggs is the best treatment. Being a highly contagious disease, doctors will often recommend that the treatment is carried out to people who are living together or are in constant contact with each other.


Singles is an acute, painful inflammation of the nerve ganglia and causes skin eruptions usually around the middle of the body. The eruptions can turn into blisters which can cause burning sensations on the skin. Itchiness, tenderness, and tingling of the skin will also be experienced.

The cause of shingles is the varicella-zoster virus or VZV which is the same organism that causes chickenpox. When the virus is reactivated, shingles will happen. Therefore, only those who have had chickenpox can develop shingles, usually later in life. However, it’s rare for people who have been vaccinated with the virus to develop shingles. Just like chickenpox, shingles will go away after some time. However, enduring the condition is a whole different issue.


This is another unsightly skin growth that plagues many people. Warts are small, hard, and benign growths on the skin caused by the virus papillomavirus or HPV. Although not life-threatening, they are ugly, contagious and politely embarrassing. At times, they can cause some pain. HPV comes in over 100 types. Almost all are not dangerous and usually appear on hands and feet. Few strains of HPV have been found to affect the areas around the genitals too.

Many warts can respond to treatments that are readily available at the drugstore. Over-the-counter treatments can include a concentrated cold air spray that is aimed at the wart. This will kill the skin and make it easy to scrape it off the surface. This is good for a single wart as it’s easy and convenient. But they may not be potent enough to remove many warts.

Another treatment involves patches containing salicylic acid which must be applied every day for a few weeks. The treatment becomes more effective if the wart is submerged in water a few minutes before applying the treatment. Sometimes though, warts can disappear without any treatment.

Common Risk Factors for Skin Irritations

Symptoms for skin irritations can vary and will depend upon the type of irritation. In general, the irritations involve appearances on the skin like redness and rashes. These generally are itchy, tender and sometimes painful. Consider the following when dealing with skin irritation issues:

  • Allergic skin irritations can be due to allergens or irritants.
  • Bacterial irritations are caused by the entry of bacteria into the body through skin breaks. If the immune system is weak, this can cause skin irritations or infections.
  • Viral skin irritations are typically caused by viruses. There are three common virus groups responsible for skin irritations: human papillomavirus, herpes virus, and poxvirus.
  • Fungal irritations are mostly due to the individual’s lifestyle and body chemistry. Both these factors can increase the risk of fungal infection.
  • Parasitic skin irritations are caused by tiny insects or organisms that burrow under the skin where they lay their eggs.

Preventing Skin  Infections

How to treat skin irritations will depend upon what caused the condition. Irritations can also vary from mild to severe. There are many ways of preventing or reducing the chances of developing skin irritations, and many are so basic, they’re done almost every day. Washing hands daily, for instance, is one of the best treatment to avoid contracting irritations. If conditions get worse and the pain becomes hard to manage, it’s best to consult a doctor. Diagnosis will best provide the doctor what kind of treatment is necessary for recovery.


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