Skin rashes are most commonly caused by allergies, anxiety, bacterial or viral infections, friction, fungal infections, heatburn, contact with irritants, irritation, reaction to vaccination, skin diseases, or sunburn. Sometimes, several factors contribute to the rash. Most of the time, only one factor is necessary to create a rash, especially on sensitive skin. While rashes can appear as red, white, brown, yellow or even purple spots on the skin depending on the cause, the most common rash color is red. Often, the white rings found around the red areas or within red rings are just normal flesh that is stretched and looks whiter in comparison to the red rash; sometimes the whiteness is from scaling, as in psoriasis.
On occasion, red rashes surrounded by white rings might appear as alternating red and white rings. This rash can be a symptom of Lyme disease, and should be brought to the attention of a doctor immediately.
Perfectly circular raised red rings of rash that are very itchy usually signal ringworm. Again, you should see a doctor immediately if you notice this kind of rash occurring in one or more rings.
Many viral illnesses cause rash to appear on skin, but produce mostly generic lacy or pimply rash or bumps that tend to be red and itchy, and will disappear when the virus dies.
Rashes caused by allergies, anxiety and friction are best cured by dealing with the cause. However, other symptoms such as itchiness, or burning sensations can be alleviated by over-the-counter medication such as hydrocortisone. Applying cold or heat also relieves the itchiness, and cold can reduce the swelling. Heatburn, contact with irritants, irritation and sunburn should be treated according to specific procedures for heat and chemical burns.
Bedsores, diabetic ulcers, poison oak and infected herpes outbreaks can result in red lesions surrounded by white rings as well. These must be treated accordingly, with the skin kept clean to prevent infection.
Finally, and most frequently, the cause of itchy red rashes with white rings around them is insect bites. You can tell an insect bite because of the pain, redness, itching and swelling that lasts a couple of days, more if you have sensitive skin. Insect bites also usually have visible puncture wounds-one or two tiny dots or holes in the middle of the red bump. Single bumps are generally spider bites. Multiple bites are caused by ants, bedbugs, blister beetles, biting flies, fleas, kissing bugs, mites, ticks and wasps.
Contrary to common belief, black widow spider bites will not kill a person. Simply cleaning the wound well with soap and water will prevent infection from the bite. Sometimes, the victim might experience muscle cramps in the area of the bite. In such cases, take the victim to the closest hospital, especially a young child, who might be confined overnight for observation and treatment.
The spider bite to watch out for is from the brown recluse spider, which is sometimes called the violin spider or fiddleback spider because of a violin-shaped pattern on its head and neck. There are no markings at all on the tail-end of the spider, and it has six eyes rather than the usual eight. These spiders are native to Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Some related species imported from South America are found in California, the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, and Central California up to Merced and Fresno counties. None have been found further up north.
The bite of a brown recluse spider causes pain or burning and itching for about 10 minutes. The wound then develops into a bull's-eye, with a blister surrounded by a harsh red ring and a pale or white ring. An ulcer develops from the blister and eventually scabs over, but can enlarge and cause severe pain. The rest of the body often reacts with more itchy red rash within 1-2 days, along with fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, and destruction of red blood cells. The wound must be kept clean and treated with an antibiotic ointment. If the wound festers and does not heal, and nausea, vomiting and fever or rash occur, the victim must see a physician.
Spider bites by a group of poisonous spiders mimic the wound caused by a brown recluse spider bite, although to a lesser degree. These spiders are not usually seen or caught in the act, but can still cause wounds that can become severely infected. Without proper medical attention, the infection can spread and result in amputation of limbs or even surgical treatment. This group includes the hobo spider, jumping spider, orbweaver spider, running spider, sac spider, tarantula and wolf spider.
Regardless of the cause of the rashes, the basic rule to follow is: first, clean the area thoroughly with soap and water; second, treat the symptoms with topical applications or simple remedies; third, consult a doctor. It is always good to be sure of what you are doing, and whenever you are in doubt, defer to the experts rather than ignore the problems.