When to Worry About a Rash

Rashes & Skin Infections

Aug 26, 2015


A rash can be worrisome, but most of the time it is caused by something relatively minor. However, there are other instances where it can be a sign of a serious medical condition that needs to be addressed immediately. Here are some ways to tell if you need to get to your nearest Complete Care emergency medical facility.

What are rashes?

“Rash” is an umbrella term describing any type of skin irritation, discoloration or abnormal change in texture. Since it’s not a specific diagnosis, rash causes, symptoms, and classifications vary greatly. This is the reason why it can be difficult to determine whether a rash is serious or not.

Rashes may appear as discoloration, blisters, bumps, scales, itchiness or raised plaques. They can affect one area of the body or multiple areas at once; they may also be chronic or a singular event.

Types of Rashes

Rashes are generally broken down into two categories. Some examples include:

Infectious: Herpes, shingles, ringworm, yeast infection, chickenpox, and scabies.

Non-infectious: Allergic dermatitis, eczema, contact dermatitis, hives, and dry skin.

Signs a Rash is Serious

How do you know if a rash is serious? Signs of a serious rash include:

  • High fever
  • Extreme pain
  • Appearance in young infants
  • Full-body coverage
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Throat swelling or difficulty breathing
  • Sudden onset or rapid expansion of affected area
  • Infection

When to Worry About a Rash in Children

When a child has a rash accompanied by a fever, that can be extremely scary. Most of the time it is not a sign of something major, but if it is serious it can possibly be life threatening. If your child is acting out of character or is lethargic, that can be a sign something is dangerously wrong.

A meningococcal infection, for example, can be fatal, causing death within a few hours. The most telling sign is a rash that quickly spreads and turns into a purple bruise, and is also accompanied by a fever. If you notice this in your child, you need to get to the nearest emergency center immediately.

A blistering rash in an infant could be the result of a herpes virus, and could be very dangerous. If a child has a rash that looks similar to a sunburn that has peeled, and he or she also has low blood pressure and fever, that could be a very serious infection known as toxic shock. Again, fast medical attention will be necessary.

When to Worry About a Rash in Adults

One type of rash that can be a big problem in an adult is shingles, a virus that usually takes on the appearance of raised red bumps with blisters. This is an extremely painful condition that affects only one side of the body. However, early treatment can substantially reduce pain.

Allergic reactions to medications can also lead to rashes but they are usually nothing major. But a severe reaction that results in a rash as well as mouth ulcers needs to be treated as soon as possible.

Another condition that can cause a rash is hives, which is also a type of allergic reaction. If you have hives accompanied by a sudden drop in blood pressure or difficulty breathing, get to a doctor as quickly as you can.

Urgent Medical Care in Texas and Colorado Springs

As with any medical condition, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to rashes. If you or your child has a rash that is even a little bit concerning, don’t hesitate to seek out immediate medical attention. Complete Care offers urgent medical care throughout Texas and Colorado Springs without the long wait times of other ERs and urgent care clinics.

Find a Complete Care location near you today.