A rash on the skin can be caused by a range of inflammatory contacts. Called dermatitis, this condition often results in a flaky rash that itches or burns. The problem is often caused by allergic reactions to various consumer products, bug stings or caustic plants. Dermatitis can also appear as a result of any number of medical conditions, from eczema, psoriasis and shingles to lupus, arthritis and even chicken pox.
A flaky rash can appear on any skin surface when the oils naturally produced by the epidermis are not made. Cold weather is a natural cause of this problem, but only in a minor way. On the head, this can result in excessive dandruff. This condition is officially called dermatitis, but a more specific variety is called seborrheic dermatitis. The latter results in certain areas breaking out like behind the ears, over the eyes, around the mouth and nose, and on the scalp.
Various conditions can cause this flaky rash, from allegies to latex or rubber, alcohol-based lotions or shampoos, certain cosmetics products and clothing dyes. Plants like poison oak or poison ivy are iconic causes of dermatitis. This condition can become even more marked with age, emotional strain, oily skin and poor hygienic practices.
Dermatitis is only the first suspect. Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, typically manifests in a red flaky rash that often itches. Psoriasis is another common skin condition resulting in a rash at the joints and on the scalp and fingernails. Medications can cause allergic reactions that lead to a rash, as can the bite or sting of various bugs.
Some doctors may suspect a viral condition that is causing a flaky rash, particularly if other symptoms are present. Impetigo is a viral condition of the top layers of skin, creating painful red sores. Shingles, chicken pox, measles, rubella, hand/foot/mouth disease, roseola and scarlet fever all can create a flaky rash due to a bacterial infection, particularly if the areas are incessantly scratched and not properly moisturized.
According to the National Institutes of Health, some serious conditions also can cause this problem. Rheumatoid arthritis is one ailment that could result in occasional rashes. The autoimmune disease lupus erythematosus could result in a rash all over the body or, in about half of sufferers, in butterfly-like patches over the nose and cheeks. A childhood disorder called Kawasaki disease also results in a rash. With these more serious conditions, several other symptoms usually are present.