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Four Excellent Resources for Diagnosing Rashes



Chances are, you probably see a patient with a rash or bumps - or some kind of skin condition - at least once a day. In fact, about 10% of all outpatient visits include a skin-related complaint,1,2 and most patient visits for skin disease in the United States are to non-dermatologists.1 The key to accurately diagnosing skin conditions starts with the correct morphology, but if you didn't do your medical residency in dermatology, identifying a macule versus a papule can be difficult - and diagnosing and treating skin conditions can be stressful.

It doesn't have to be this way, though. We know doctors love to learn, and with the following resources, you can learn to love... diagnosing rashes!

While dermatology consultation is sometimes the best option, these tools can assist in diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions and help you determine if and when a referral to dermatology is necessary. Let's get started on your quest to love rashes.

  • 1. If you're a lifelong learner who likes to go at your own pace, try LearnDerm. With 5 interactive lessons, you can build a knowledge foundation in dermatology terminology and improve your pattern recognition skills. LearnDerm is a VisualDx resource available free online. The tutorial covers the basic skin exam, lesion types, distribution and body location, configurations, and an introduction to skin disease variation.
  • 2. If you like scoring points and seeing how you rank against your friends, gamification may be your best bet to learn to love diagnosing rashes. Rash Decision is a free app from a partnership with the University of Sydney and the Dermatology Department at Royal North Shore Hospital. Answer questions from 8 categories and analyze fictional patients to progress through the game. Earn mastery points, grow your reputation, and see how you rank against your friends. Rash Decisions is a free app avaialble for iOS and Android.
  • 3. Stanford University has created 2 rash education videos. The first walks through describing a rash, from basic morphology, to why color may be important, to second morphologies. The second walks through a live exam of a patient with multiple rashes to understand why certain rashes appear the way they do and if a rash can affect other rashes.
  • 4. And if you want a little more assurance and guidance, VisualDx's add-on feature DermExpert fits the bill. With this "take a picture" app, you can take a picture of your patient, have the rash morphology analyzed right on the phone, and then create a differential based on the patient's picture. DermExpert is available for iOS as an add-on to VisualDx, and the Android version will be available soon. You must have a VisualDx subscription - pricing can be found here.

No matter what your learning style, find the tool that helps you embrace rash diagnosis. By learning to love diagnosing rashes, you can provide even more robust care for your patients.



  1. Fleischer AB Jr, Herbert CR, Feldman SR, O'Brien F. Diagnosis of skin disease by nondermatologists. Am J Manag Care. 2000;6(10):1149-1156.
  2. Verhoeven EW, Kraaimaat FW, Van Weel C, et al. Skin diseases in family medicine: prevalence and health care use. Ann Fam Med. 2008;6(4):349-354.

About VisualDx

VisualDx is an award-winning diagnostic clinical decision support system that has become the standard electronic resource at more than half of U.S. medical schools and more than 1,500 hospitals and institutions nationwide.  VisualDx combines clinical search with the world's best medical image library, plus medical knowledge from experts to help with diagnosis, treatment, self-education, and patient communication. Expanding to provide diagnostic decision support across General Medicine, the new VisualDx brings increased speed and accuracy to the art of diagnosis. Learn more at