8 Skin Warning Signs to Worry About in a Rash

Medically Reviewed on 9/23/2020
Most of the rashes are harmless and may not indicate anything serious.
Most of the rashes are harmless and may not indicate anything serious.

Most of the rashes are harmless and may not indicate anything serious. However, if there are these accompanying symptoms along with the skin rash, it may signify something serious.

The eight skin warning signs that need medical attention include:

  1. Widespread rashes all over the body indicate an infection or allergic reaction.
  2. Painful rashes with fever may be a sign of herpes infection. This may need evaluation by a doctor. Other rashes with fever include measles, mononucleosis, and scarlet fever.
  3. Sudden onset and rapid spreading of rash (hives) all over the body may indicate anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction, which may be fatal if untreated.
  4. A blistering rash may be a sign of pemphigus vulgaris (an autoimmune condition) or a severe drug reaction. In both cases, evaluation by a doctor is a must.
  5. A sudden spread of purplish rash over the body may be a sign of infection by deadly germs or inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis).
  6. A rash that looks like large red or purple spots under the skin may be due to the failure of the blood clotting mechanism. Such a rash is called a purpuric rash.
  7. If there is a skin discoloration or changes in the skin along with the rashes, it can indicate something serious. Yellowing of the skin indicates liver disease or darkening of the skin could signify diabetes.
  8. Bruising or swelling around the rash needs medical attention. Such a rash may be a sign of poisonous insect biting. It may cut off the blood flow of the affected area.

What are other life-threatening disorders that have skin rash as a sign?

Life-threatening disorders that have a skin rash as a major sign include:

Meningococcemia: This is caused by Neisseria meningitides and is an infectious disease. A rash is preceded by headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and joint pain.

Rocky mountain spotted fever: This is caused by Rickettsia, which is transmitted to humans by the bite of a tick. Patients initially report fevers, chills, headache, cough, muscle aches, and malaise.

Necrotizing fasciitis: It is a bacterial infection that mainly affects the legs and penetrates the deeper tissues. It is most commonly caused by group A beta-hemolytic streptococci. Fevers and chills may precede skin rashes.

Pemphigus vulgaris (PV): PV is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s natural system attacks its cells.

Toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), also known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) or erythema multiforme major (EM): This is the severe form of an allergic reaction to antibiotics, anti-seizure medications, viral infections, and anti-HIV medications.

Drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS) syndrome: Certain anticonvulsant medications may cause the most severe form of skin eruption that starts 2 to 6 weeks after taking the medications. Other medicines that may induce DRESS syndrome include:

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS): Certain strains of Staphylococcus bacteria cause TSS. These bacteria release toxins into the bloodstream culminating in organ damage. Other infections that may lead to TSS include:


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Medically Reviewed on 9/23/2020