When Should I Worry About a Rash?

When should I worry about a rash


A rash can be worrisome. Most of the time, rashes are caused by something relatively minor. However, there are instances where a rash is a sign of a serious medical condition that needs to be addressed immediately. Here is more information about common rashes and some ways to identify them so you can get an idea of what you’re dealing with.

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.

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 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 for Children

As a parent it’s entirely reasonable to be concerned when your child has a rash accompanied by a fever. While most of the time a rash isn’t a major medical concern, it could also be a symptom of a rare or life-threatening condition. If your child is acting out of character or lethargic, that can be a sign something is dangerously wrong. Conversely, if they are acting relatively normal, you may not need to worry.

A meningococcal infection is an example of a fatal fever-inducing rash. One defining symptoms is the rapid expansion of the rash and the development of a purple bruise. This, accompanied by a fever, is a telling sign. If you notice this type of rash affecting your child, you need to get to the nearest emergency center immediately.

A blistering rash on an infant’s skin could be the result of a herpes virus and could also be dangerous. If a child has a rash that looks like a peeled sunburn accompanied by low blood pressure and a fever, that could be a serious infection known as toxic shock.

When to Worry for Adults

Shingles, a virus that manifests as raised, red bumps with blisters, can be especially dangerous for adults. Also called herpes zoster, shingles is essentially the chickenpox virus reappearing later in life. This is an extremely painful condition that affects only one side of the body. Early treatment can substantially reduce pain.

Allergic reactions to food and medication can also cause dangerous rashes. Most allergic reactions will cause itching and general skin irritation, but a severe reaction that results in a terrible rash as well as mouth or respiratory tract ulcers needs to be treated as soon as possible.

Hives, which look like puffy welts, are a type of rash that can appear during an 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.