Did you know there are literally hundreds of different types of rashes? And the same rash can appear differently on different people. That’s why you can’t look at a rash and say, “That looks like the same one my wife has. It must have been caused by the same thing.”

Three Categories of Rashes

Rashes fall into three general categories: infectious, inflammatory, and immune system-related.

  • Infectious Rashes – These rashes are most commonly bacterial, fungal or viral infections.
  • Inflammatory Rashes – There are many different types of inflammation. Acute inflammation comes and goes in a short period of time, while chronic inflammation stays for a long time.
  • Immune system-related Rashes – These rashes appear when the body’s immune system produces antibodies through the skin. For example, some antibodies cause a histamine release, which can result in hives.

Why It’s Important to See A Dermatologist

Like we mentioned previously, there are hundreds of rashes out there. Far too many to cover in a blog post, and even a book on the topic would be pretty long.

Because of the sheer number of rashes and the subtle differences between them, very specialized training is required to properly diagnose and treat rashes. Dermatologists spend three years learning about the skin in a rigorous training program. Only after completing this specialized training does a dermatologist become board certified. Dermatologists also have to go through new medical education and training each year to maintain that certification.

Related: When Should You Visit The Dermatologist?

A family practice doctor typically goes to medical school, followed by three years of training in family practice medicine. They’re trained in many different areas and provide an invaluable service to families when children or parents experience any number of medical issues. However, a family practice doctor typically receives limited training in dermatology, especially compared to a board certified dermatologist.

If you notice a rash and feel more comfortable seeing your family doctor first, by all means do so. Just be sure to follow up with a board certified dermatologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating skin conditions.