Skin rashes can be uncomfortable, causing patches of itchy, irritated, red, and swollen skin.
Rashes can form on any part of the skin, including the stomach.
In some cases, it’s easy to identify the cause of your stomach rash, like when you accidentally come into contact with poison oak or poison ivy.
Other times, it can be harder to know where the rash originated.
There are many possible causes of a stomach rash and many are not cause for concern.
But they all have something in common: If you’ve got a rash on your stomach, you probably want it to be gone!
In this article, I’ll tell you about some of the most common potential causes of a stomach rash.
I’ll talk about their symptoms, including serious symptoms to watch out for, and how these rashes can be treated.
I’ll also tell you when to see a doctor.
What Causes a Rash on Your Stomach?
Not all stomach rashes are the same.
They may develop quickly, or spread over time. A rash may indicate anything from an allergic reaction to an underlying infection.
There are many possible causes of a stomach rash, which is why it’s important to speak to a provider when you’re unsure about what’s causing your symptoms.
Possible causes of a mild stomach rash include:
- Pregnancy: During the third trimester of pregnancy, an itchy rash can appear in the stretch marks on the stomach. This is called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, or PUPPP. This rash looks like little pink pimples or hives inside the stretch marks. The rash usually goes away within 1-2 weeks of delivering your baby. A PUPPP rash can be very itchy, but it shouldn’t cause complications for you or your baby.
- Scabies: This pimple-like rash is caused by an infestation of skin mites. The human itch mite, or scabies mite, burrows into your skin and lays eggs. The resulting rash is very itchy, especially at night; the rash may also have scales. Scabies can be spread from one person to another via prolonged, skin-to-skin contact—institutions such as nursing homes and child care facilities are often the sites of scabies outbreaks. Scabies can be cured by a prescription scabicide—a product that kills the mites and their eggs.
- Ringworm: This rash is not caused by a worm, as its name suggests. Ringworm is caused by a fungus, and it usually becomes a red, scaly rash in a circular—or ring-like—pattern. You can get ringworm from contact with another person who has a ringworm infection, or from an animal or object that has the fungus. Athlete’s foot and jock itch are types of ringworm. If you have it on your stomach, it’s possible that jock itch has spread up from your groin area to infect your stomach. Over-the-counter antifungal treatments can help; if they don’t, contact a doctor.
- Scarlet fever: Scarlet fever is caused by the same bacteria that causes strep throat. If your child has a sore throat and a rash, they may have contracted scarlet fever. The rash usually starts on the neck, armpits, or groin, but can spread to other parts of the body, including the stomach. The rash will feel like sandpaper. Scarlet fever is more common in children, but adults can get it, too. If you or your child has scarlet fever, you’ll need antibiotics to clear the infection.
- Contact dermatitis: Contact dermatitis is a type of rash that can happen when your skin comes into contact with irritants, or if you have an allergic reaction to something you’ve touched. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include redness, itching, swelling and stinging of the skin. Other times, you may experience blistering or an oozy rash, like those caused by poison ivy, poison oak, and allergic reactions. Contact dermatitis is not contagious and cannot be spread through the fluid caused by blisters.
- Eczema: Eczema refers to several types of allergic skin conditions. Eczema rashes are often red, dry, and very itchy. They can appear on the face, hands, feet, inside of elbows, behind the knees, or on the stomach. Though experts don’t fully understand the connection, people with eczema are more likely to develop asthma or experience regular allergies. The severity of eczema may change over time, but it’s typically a chronic condition.
- Psoriasis: The stomach is a common area for a psoriasis flare up. Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder that causes thick pink or red patches on the skin, often covered with white or silvery scales called plaques. Psoriasis is caused by an immune disorder, and is often an inherited condition.
- Impetigo: Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection that is more commonly found on infants and young children. The main symptoms of impetigo are reddish sores that ooze. These sores usually form around the nose and mouth, though they can form elsewhere on the body, including the stomach. Antibiotic ointment or cream prescribed by a provider is required to treat the infection.
Possible causes of a more serious stomach rash include:
- Allergies to food or medication: Allergic reactions to medications can happen when a substance that you’re allergic to comes in contact with your skin or enters the body through the mouth. Some allergic skin reactions can be mild, while others may be more life-threatening. If you or a loved one is experiencing a severe allergic reaction, reach out to a provider or seek emergency care immediately.
- Lyme disease: Lyme disease is extremely common in the United States and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans (EM). The appearance of an EM rash can vary widely. It is generally described as target-like. It usually begins as a small bump or redness at the site of the bite and then gradually expands, sometimes reaching up to 12 inches in diameter.
- Kawasaki disease: Kawasaki disease (KD) is an extremely rare but serious disease that primarily affects children five years and younger. As few as 20 children in 100,000 in the United States have this condition. Though the exact cause of KD is unknown, it can cause fever for longer than five days, rash, swelling of the hands and feet, irritation and redness of the whites of the eyes, swollen lymph glands in the neck, and irritation and inflammation of the mouth, lips, and throat. Post-COVID multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), is a rare condition that occurs about one month after an infection with COVID-19 and can cause similar or identical symptoms. This may be seen in children up to 17 years old.
- Viral infection: Multiple viruses can also produce a rash. Viral rashes often come with additional viral symptoms, such as fever, diarrhea, runny nose, cough, or sore throat. Your healthcare provider can often recognize a viral rash based on its appearance and your other symptoms.
Symptoms of a Stomach Rash
A stomach rash can cause a wide array of symptoms, depending on the type of rash present.
Generally, a rash involves a change in the color, feeling, or texture of your skin.
Some symptoms you may experience with a stomach rash include:
- Dry, red, itchy skin
- Small blisters or bumps
- Thick, pink or red patches on the skin
- White or silvery scales on the skin
- Painful patches of skin
- General itchiness
Sometimes, a stomach rash can be a sign of a more serious condition.
In those cases, there may be additional symptoms present, like:
- Joint pain or stiffness
- Change in consciousness (including unresponsiveness or fainting)
- Purple-colored rash
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sudden swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
- Tightness in the throat
- Symptoms that do not improve despite treatment
If you or a loved one experiences any of the above symptoms, seek emergency care as soon as possible.
What are the Treatments for a Stomach Rash?
The appropriate treatment for a skin rash depends on the cause of your symptoms.
Speak to a provider to determine which treatment option, if any, is right for you.
Some skin rashes, including psoriasis and eczema, may be treated with prescription lotions, ointments, and/or oral or injectable medications.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications
In many cases, over-the-counter (OTC) medications like hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion can help to soothe your rash, no matter the cause.
Other OTC medications, like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), may help to alleviate pain associated with your rash. Antihistamines like loratadine (Claritin), cetirizine (Zyrtec), and diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can be helpful in treating rashes and itching.
Before resorting to home remedies, consult with a healthcare professional to determine whether certain home remedies will make your symptoms better or worse.
If your provider says they are safe, home remedies can help soothe the discomfort and pain caused by some skin rashes.
A cool bath with baking soda, uncooked oatmeal, or colloidal oatmeal can help soothe the itching caused with chickenpox, poison ivy, and poison oak.
Stomach Rash Prevention
Not all stomach rashes are preventable.
However, there are some things you can do to prevent certain stomach rashes, including:
- Practice good personal hygiene to help prevent against viral infection, including washing hands thoroughly
- Avoid perfumed soaps and laundry detergents
- Moisturize your skin with a fragrance-free moisturizer, especially in dry and colder temperatures
- Get vaccinated whenever eligible, including the rubella and chickenpox vaccines
When to See a Doctor
If you’ve developed a mild rash and are not experiencing any other symptoms, it’s OK to try some over-the-counter treatments and to wait a few days to see if your rash will go away on its own.
If the rash persists for a few days, spreads, becomes painful or infected, or you develop a fever, your rash may indicate a medical condition that requires treatment.
If you experience severe symptoms, or if signs of a new rash don’t go away on their own within one week, reach out to your provider.
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Pruritic Urticarial Papules And Plaques Of Pregnancy. (2021).
Scabies Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). (2020).
Scarlet Fever: All You Need to Know. (2021).
Association of psychological stress with skin symptoms among medical students. (2018).
Cutaneous signs in COVID‐19 patients: A review. (2020).
Kawasaki Disease. (2020).
Lyme Disease. (2021).