Scrapes, Rashes, and Blisters: When to See a Doctor for Irritated Skin

2016-03-24If you’ve ever experienced an itchy rash keeping you up at night or the constant pain of a bad scrape, you know skin irritations can interfere with daily life. Many skin rashes, abrasions, or blisters can be treated safely at home with a few items from the pharmacy. However, some conditions may require care from a physician. Learn how to care for skin irritations at home and the warning signs that indicate you should call the doctor.

Treating Skin Irritations at Home


  • For a scrape or wound, stop any bleeding by applying gentle pressure with a bandage or non-stick gauze for 20 minutes.
  • Clean the area gently with soap and water.
  • Cover the wounded area with a bandage to maintain moisture, which can speed the healing process. The bandage also prevents dirt from entering the area and possibly creating an infection.


  • Over-the-counter cortisone cream is one of the best treatments for many rashes.
  • If you suspect heat rash, keep you body cool and dry.
  • For rashes from poison ivy or poison oak, try applying a cool compress or taking an oatmeal bath.
  • Use gentle soaps, such as Cetaphil or Dove, and use as little soap as possible.


  • For blisters on the bottom of the foot, use a doughnut-shaped moleskin pad to provide relief and protection.
  • It’s best not to drain a blister at home due to the risk of introducing infection.
  • If a blister tears open, wash the area with soap and water. Do not use alcohol or other cleaners. Do not remove the flap of skin unless it is very dirty or torn. Apply a clean bandage over the skin.

Skin Symptoms that Require a Doctor’s Visit

If your skin irritation isn’t showing signs of improvement after a few days, or if you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s time to see a doctor.

  • If an abrasion has redness, swelling, increasing drainage, or continuing pain, it could be a sign of an infection.
  • Fever or pain with a rash could also indicate an infection.
  • A circular type of rash could indicate Lyme disease. Your doctor can order a blood test to confirm, and possibly administer antibiotics to prevent the disease from worsening.
  • A widespread rash could indicate an allergic reaction, especially if you have started any new medication in the past two weeks. Rashes like hives can also indicate food allergies.  
  • Blisters with a rash may be a cause for concern, unless you know you have been exposed to poison ivy.
  • Red streaks that extend away from a blister or drainage of pus from a blister may indicate an infection.
  • Shingles are raised dots that turn into painful blisters. It can cause your skin to burn, itch, tingle, or become very sensitive. If you suspect shingles, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Scheduling an Appointment

When you visit your doctor, let them know how long you’ve had the rash, blister, or abrasion; symptoms you are experiencing and treatments you’ve tried; and any changes in symptoms or skin appearance that you have noticed.

Primary care physicians and providers at LeBauer HealthCare have experience diagnosing and treating skin irritations and complications. Whether it’s a case of pesky poison ivy, an abrasion that’s slow to heal, or something more serious like shingles, the experienced LeBauer team can help. Contact one of our six convenient Triad locations to schedule an appointment today.

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