Skin Rashes

Identifying skin rashes… So you can treat them effectively

This is your guide to some of the most common skin rashes – how to spot which one’s which and what products you’ll find in the pharmacy to relieve your symptoms. If you’re in any doubt at all, just pop into your local LloydsPharmacy and we’ll be able to help.


Chickenpox is a mild, common viral illness that’s mostly seen in children under ten, although you can catch it at any age. The symptoms are a rash of red, itchy spots that quite quickly turn into fluid-filled blisters. These blisters burst then crust over to form scabs which eventually drop off. Some people have only a few spots, normally on their tummy, chest, back and face, but sometimes they can cover the entire body.

How you can relieve the symptoms

Calamine lotion, paracetamol to bring down any fever and antihistamines to control the itching.*


Caused by the same virus as chickenpox, shingles is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it. It usually affects a specific area on either the left or right side of your body and doesn't cross past the belly button. Most people feel unwell for several days before a painful rash appears which develops into itchy blisters.

How you can relieve the symptoms

Calamine lotion, pain relief and antihistamines to control the itching.* Sometimes you might be prescribed antidepressants for their pain relief qualities from your doctor.

Impetigo isn’t usually serious. It’s a really contagious bacterial infection of the surface layers of the skin that causes sores and blisters. There are two types:

  • Bullous impetigo – causes large, painless, fluid-filled blisters
  • Non-bullous impetigo –causes sores that quickly burst to leave a yellow-brown crust

    If you think you might have impetigo, make an appointment to see your doctor.

    How you can relieve the symptoms

    Antibiotic cream* or tablets from your doctor should clear the infection within seven to 10 days.

Athlete's Foot

This common condition is caused by a fungal infection, resulting in an itchy red rash in the spaces between your toes, particularly between the fourth and fifth toes. As well as being itchy, your skin may be scaly, flaky and dry.

How you can relieve the symptoms

Antifungal creams, ointments, gels and sprays. You can also help to prevent the condition with foot and shoe sprays.*

Fungal nail infection

This affects around three in every 100 people in the UK so it’s really common - around half of all nail problems are due to a fungal infection, and it’s about four times more common in toenails than fingernails. It can involve all or part of your nail, including the nail plate, nail bed and root. It usually affects adults, especially men, and becomes more common as you get older.

How you can relieve the symptoms Antifungal tablets available from your doctor on prescription and antifungal nail paints available from the pharmacy.*

Cold sores

Cold sores are small blisters that develop on your lips or around your mouth. They start off as a tingling sensation before turning into raised, red, painful blisters that can be filled with a white fluid. They usually clear up within 7-10 days.

How you can relieve the symptoms Antiviral cold sore creams and gels can be applied as soon as you feel the tingle.*


This infectious skin condition is caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin, causing an intensely itchy rash that’s worse at night. You can sometimes also see small silver threadlike vein lines where the mites have burrowed in the web spaces of the fingers and toes. It’s most common to find the rash around the midriff, underarms, buttocks, thighs and ankles.

How you can relieve the symptoms Malathion lotions and permethrin creams get to work quickly.*

Verrucas and warts

These are small, rough lumps on the skin that often appear on your hands and feet. They’re caused by a virus known as the human papilloma virus (HPV) which causes keratin, a hard protein in the top layer of the skin, to grow too much. This produces the rough, hard texture of a wart or verruca. A verruca is just a wart on the sole of the foot.

How you can relieve the symptoms

Acid-based products and freeze sprays will quickly deal with the problem.*


Measles is highly infectious and most common in children aged one to four, but it can infect anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated. The rash develops after three-to-four days of feeling unwell with cold-like symptoms. Small white spots inside the mouth are followed by a red-brown spotty rash, which tends to start behind the ears and spread to the face and trunk then the rest of the body. The spots disappear when you press them with a glass. You’ll need to see your GP to confirm you have measles and stay away from anyone who’s not already had measles or been vaccinated.

How you can relieve the symptoms

Painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen will ease the cold-like symptoms.*


This is a common fungal skin infection which causes a ring-like red rash that gradually spreads. The rash can appear almost anywhere on the body, but most commonly on the scalp, feet and groin being common areas. It isn't serious and is usually easily treated.

How you can relieve the symptoms

Antifungal creams are an effective treatment.*

*Remember always read the label and ask your pharmacist if you need anymore advice.
Make sure you get your rash checked… And put your mind at ease

Most rashes are easily treated with products you get over the counter in the pharmacy, but occasionally they can be a sign of something more serious, especially if you also feel unwell. So if you or your child has a rash, it’s just as well to get it checked out to make sure it’s nothing too serious and to start your treatments as soon as possible – just ask the pharmacy team for more advice.

If you suspect meningitis, seek emergency help

Meningitis is an infection caused by a virus or bacteria. It can cause swelling in the brain and around nerves, which can lead to blood poisoning, brain damage and even death. The bacterial infection is much more serious than the viral meningitis, which can appear with symptoms like a bad cold. Look out for the warning signs of meningitis in children which may include:

  • becoming floppy and unresponsive, or stiff with jerky movements
  • becoming irritable and not wanting to be held
  • unusual crying
  • vomiting and refusing food
  • pale and blotchy skin
  • loss of appetite
  • staring expression
  • very sleepy
  • fever
  • rash

Above all, trust your instincts. If you think your child has meningitis, see your doctor immediately or go to your nearest hospital A&E.

Skin Conditions
Healthy Skin
Childrens Skin
Skin Rashes