Rashes and Skin Ulcers

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The causes of rashes and ulcers of the skin in travelers include all of the common causes in non-travelers plus the rare "tropical" causes that are only likely to be encountered during travel to exotic locales. Distinguishing one from the other may challenge the skills of general practitioners who are not well-versed in travel medicine or dermatology. Here are a few generalizations for the traveler to consider:

Simple Rashes

There are a vast number of causes for rashes: some allergic in origin, some infectious, some related to physical conditions, such as heat, insect bites or stings. Some are itchy, some are painful, and some are not associated with any other symptoms. Many of these causes are self-limited. Determining the cause of such a rash depends on its appearance, its location on body, any associated symptoms, and the history of potential exposures.

Rashes and Fever

Many infections that cause fever may also have associated rashes. The appearance of the rash may be an important clue to the cause of the illness. For that reason, it is important to be evaluated by a knowledgeable physician when there is a rash in the presence of fever.

Skin Ulcers

Problems associated with persistent breaks in or ulcerations of the skin, particularly those that do not heal promptly, should be evaluated to determine whether they are caused by a "tropical" illness acquired during travel.


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